Monday, November 8, 2010

A Wanderer Goes Home

I've been wandering for two months. I've covered the eastern U.S., up and down the coast from Vermont to Florida. I've been driving a lot. And tomorrow I go home.

And so I feel like I'm standing at a portal, poised to enter a different world. The flight home will be long and complex, a sometimes senseless series of rituals. Women in uniforms will draw wands over my body, signs will be enigmatic, spaces will shrink, and the sky will be contained in a square window. At the end of it all, I'll unhitch my body from its tight ride, walk into a throng of people, and be embraced by the woman I love. I'll breathe a long, long sigh.

And I'll miss the people I left behind here.

This is the season of longing, as Jupiter and Uranus have returned to the soft, dreamy sign Pisces. They are traveling together, and they are both high-energy, boisterous planets. They usually feed off each other's enthusiasms, but in Pisces, they drown in each other's fantasies. Pisces represents the gentle and open state in which there are no boundaries, no labels, no limits. It's the universe, it's the womb, it's the perfect place for creative fecundity. Imagination makes everything happen.

And here in Washington DC, in this post-election moment, you can definitely hear the wistful fantasies of Pisces in the words of the newly elected officials. They come on TV, itself a very Piscean medium (since it is all about creative illusion), and talk vaguely about balancing the budget. They assume they can do this while retaining tax cuts, keeping two wars going, and funding the programs that are most popular in their states.

They have the hero fantasy. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, Uranus the planet of change, and so there is an ongoing need to grapple heroically with the community's problems. But with Jupiter and Uranus retrograde, there's a return to the solutions of the past, and in Pisces, these solutions are based on formless desires rather than a pragmatic acknowledgement of the problems. Heroes don't need to compromise, and fantasies expand endlessly in any direction you choose.

Traveling in the U.S., I feel that hero mystique that grips everyone here. The endless highway, the power of the engine, the solitary traveler going from place to place. It's a Lone Ranger kind of reality. And yet I haven't fixed anything, or saved the day, anywhere I've been. Rather, I've immersed myself in all these different lives, felt them from the inside, tasted the flavor of the tears shed, rocked with the laughter. It's been very Piscean for me too.

And now I go back home. Who will I be, once I'm there? I'll find that out tomorrow.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to the Basics

I was going to keep it a secret that I hurt my back.

Why? Because a backache doesn't fit into my picture of myself. I have no problem admitting all kinds of frailties - an unreliable sense of direction, a lack of phone skills, and a tendency to go out without combing my hair - but a bad back isn't one of them. I see myself as having a strong, flexible, healthy back at all times.

I was really indignant. I do yoga! I stretch all the time! What's up with this?

There is nothing one feels as possessive about as one's body, especially as one gets older. I have spent almost sixty years living in this body, and it reflects me so faithfully, both in negative and positive ways. I've created it as it is - sometimes by stretching and walking and dancing and swimming, sometimes by ignoring and neglecting it. True, the basic physical matter was a gift from my ancestors, and from the earth herself. But for a lot of what's happened since then, I can take the credit or the blame.

So when I bent over to pull that pan out of the oven, I never suspected that that sharp twinge would become an insistent pain by the end of a very busy evening. We were giving a party, I had been on my feet all day, I was excited and having fun, I was thinking about a million things at once. But by the time the last guest left, I couldn't bend over any more.

Yes, it's Saturn. It's generally Saturn.

The Saturn/Jupiter opposition, in orb now for about four months, has signaled an economic downturn. This aspect shows the clash between Saturn's caution and Jupiter's extravagance. Saturn asks for everything to be grounded in reality, while Jupiter is busy taking it all to the next level. Jupiter is usually high and happy, while Saturn has a well-deserved reputation as a downer.

Pundits who celebrated the return of a healthy economy are now saying that it looks pretty bleak. But currently Saturn is moving away from the opposition to Jupiter, and so that should help the recovery - at least until next spring, when this aspect forms again.

As Saturn moves away from Jupiter, it moves towards an opposition to my natal Jupiter. So it's getting personal for me now. And I can say it's definitely been about economy. Economy of movement, today. Doing everything with my back absolutely straight. Avoiding sudden movements. Finding out about limitations that I didn't even know I had.

Jupiter and Saturn are the planets that anchor us to our world, our society, our community, but they do it in opposite and often antagonistic ways. Jupiter has to do with the ways we grow through community, and help the community grow. It fosters the belief that everything is possible. And, in this ever-expanding universe, perhaps it is, one way or another.

Saturn has to do with the restrictions which society imposes, and the ways we limit each other as well. We all believe things that we've been trained to believe, things that our ancestors passed down as valuable truisms. For example, the belief that when you get old, you get stiff and have trouble moving.

But there's Saturn saying, "Oh yeah? That's a myth, huh?" Then I hear that dry, kind of papery Saturnine laughter that always makes me want to throw a rock at something.

Yes, you're right, Saturn. These limitations aren't just arbitrary. They're based on something real. They are the lessons taught by experience, by the passage through this world. I look back and see a long train of my ancestors, learning these same lessons, reminding each other of what works and what doesn't.

All the other planets allow you to transcend this worldly frame, one way or another. The sun does it by feeding your ego. ("I've got a really healthy back, and if it ever does hurt, nobody is going to know about it!") The moon does it by offering a support system. (This is when I crawled into bed and let my spouse know how pitiful I felt.) Mercury does it by bringing up other perspectives and ideas. (I'm doing a great job of distracting myself, writing this.) Venus does it by offering ways to have fun. (That's why I didn't recognize how much pain I was in until everybody had left the party.) Every planet has its way of taking you away from mundane reality, and in that process, helping you create one that's less mundane.

But Saturn never does that. It keeps coming back to our inexorable connection to the cycle of life. Everything that's born decays. Everything that's physical will someday crumble. That's the way it is. And so Saturn keeps us humble, keeps us grounded, keeps reminding us that there's one thing that's stronger than the will. And that thing is time.

But don't worry about me. I can already feel it healing. And that too takes time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Through a Mercury/Neptune Aspect, Darkly

Astrologers are pretty good at predicting individual movements. Show me a natal chart and some transits, and I can give make a pretty good guess about where the impulse energy is taking a person. I understand that they still have plenty of freedom to withstand their own impulses and to shape a new direction. But I can see the direction of the current, the depth of the water, and the strength of the flow.

But mass events are another thing entirely. And I don't know of any astrologer who is good at predicting these.

It's not that we can't see that something big is going on. Clearly, the current planetary patterns are dramatic. And I can see it operating in lots of individual lives. People are leaving homes, leaving jobs, taking risks, challenging themselves in new ways. I see it all around me.

But my blind spot is that I can't see the scope. When I read about that accident at the Love Parade in Duisburg, Germany, I thought, "Well, of course." It absolutely makes sense that that would happen, given the forming Mercury/Neptune opposition. People in charge of traffic control were confused and communicated badly, and the result was a stampede through a narrow tunnel. The Jupiter/Pluto square was also virtually exact, with Pluto representing pressure and stress, and Jupiter representing excess.

Nineteen people died, and for those nineteen people and their families, this was an enormous tragedy. But what makes the difference between events in which nineteen people die, and other events that kill hundreds? The aspects are not necessarily any more dramatic or powerful.

Maybe it's just that astrologers see hundreds of individuals, and we get a feel for the patterns on that level. But we're all living in one single time-line, and, even when we study several centuries of history, we still don't have enough of an overview. We can look back on things that have already happened, read the symbolism, and understand that the event perfectly embodied the spirit of the times. But predicting what will happen next, that's another thing.

But we keep trying. We're fascinated by the unfolding picture.

The Mercury/Neptune opposition is exact today, and that may be why I'm caught in this "wondering" mode. Mercury is about the conscious workings of the mind, while Neptune takes us into a more amorphous and intuitive realm. Neptune is the planet of fascination, so it figures that I'm writing here on this blog. I want to understand. But in order to understand, first I have to enter that foggy place in which I become aware of all the things I don't know.

And I have to wander around here, in this dream landscape, for a while. My mind relaxes and allows me to travel outside this chair, this desk, this monitor, this cup of tea. I find myself in a large misty field. The grass is soft and wet under my feet. I hear voices, but they are just echoes, and the words are indistinguishable.

I walk a while, and then I come across a goal-post. Sitting under it is an old woman, shrouded in a shawl. As I walk up to her, she looks up and says, "Nobody can win this game." I nod, but I wonder then why the goal-post exists.

I turn and walk through the lowering fog towards the other end of the field. And as I come closer, I hear people calling, cheering, exhorting. And there are people playing, kicking a ball around. Sweat flies, muscles flex, legs kick. I move quickly, getting out of the way just as a mass of players charges towards me. But a strange thing happens as the players rush towards the goal-post where the old lady sits. They move more and more slowly, until they are hardly moving at all.

I see what she means. Nobody can win this game. I recognize the old lady as Saturn in Libra, the Crone, the wise woman. Perhaps she is expecting these eager players to give up their idea of winning, and come to a place of cooperation and compromise. But they are so excited. And they are on a playing field. There is a goal post. How can they become what they are not?

I look back at the players. There is an abundant supply of them, tussling and fighting over the ball, running towards the Crone, and then freezing when they get close to her. There's someone on the team who keeps trying new things, plays that have never been attempted before. This must be Uranus in Aries. Now robots are moving towards the Crone. But they still slow down, and stop before they reach the goal.

And now a figure goes over to the join the Crone. I peer through the mist, and see glimpses of a beautiful, androgynous person. At one moment, I think I am looking at Venus, and at the next, I think it's Mars. But it's Mars in Venus' sign, Libra. And she is glaring across at the wild boisterous play of the other team. I have a feeling she's going to forsake her usual gentleness and courtesy, and kick some serious ass.

And suddenly I am back in my chair, noticing that my tea has gotten cold. What did I see? What does it mean? What will happen when Mars in Libra comes over to join Saturn, and gets involved in the Aries/Libra opposition? Mars is a volatile planet, and this is already a volatile configuration. All that action on one side, all that stasis on the other.

This configuration is just taking shape. During the last days of July and the first days of August, there will a group of exact aspects involving all these players - wise and critical Saturn in Libra, just and inexorable Mars in Libra, excitable and excessive Jupiter in Aries, changeable and inventive Uranus in Aries. And squaring them all, powerful and stressful Pluto in Capricorn. I didn't see Pluto on that misty playing field, but I think she was there, skirting the shadows, conveying some intense but invisible pressure.

So what kind of mass event could occur? Something to do with war and competition. Something to do with justice. Something violent, and something that suddenly ends violence. The pressure to change, and absolute resistance to change. Will it be the earth that explodes, or some man-made object like a roof or a floor? Or will a group of people suddenly catch fire and do something they've never done before?

Will it be something that we hardly notice at the time - a law passed that slowly but definitely changes history, a court judgment that tips the balance of power, a statement that makes hundreds of people see more clearly? Is there someone in some cellar, at this exact moment, inventing something which will put us all into a completely different world?

This Mercury/Neptune oppositon is a fleeting influence. It will be over tomorrow. It's acting as a portal. But nothing it shows me is absolutely clear. I still don't know where the winds of change will take this world. I know that they're blowing. I know it will be different.

And maybe that's why I can't see what's coming. Maybe it's too different from what I'm used to. Maybe the future refuses to be contained in the words and concepts of the past. Maybe it just needs the freedom to become.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Virgoan Moment

I've been leading a rather monastic existence, with my spouse at a conference in the U.S. I work, I eat simple meals, I go for walks, I am asleep before midnight.

Right now, there's a stellium of four planets in Virgo. So it's no wonder that I was at the farmer's market this morning, before sitting down to my computer. It's no wonder that, when I opened up my mail page, the first thing I saw was "Trending: health care". It's no wonder that my teenage jock nephew has started doing yoga with me.

This Virgo stellium is like an Amish buggy going through the expressway of my life -really, of all our lives. It gives us time to look around and go, "Well, well. So that's what's growing on the side of the road."

So the oil gusher has been capped? That's another thing I read this morning. It's about time. Well, it's way past time according to all our harassed sensibilities. But clearly, this is the time, this Virgoan moment in which things can be fixed, patched, mended and healed.

Although the water and its living things will take a lot more healing, I know.

And this is only an interval. Right now, the moon, Saturn, Mars and Venus are all in earthy, practical, service-oriented, health-conscious Virgo. But in about four hours, the moon will enter Libra. In about five days, Saturn will enter Libra, and stay there for the next two and a half years. Mars will wait till the end of the month to enter Libra, while Venus won't do it until early August.

But that first degree of Libra is a pivotal point. It's as though I'm watching them - the moon, Saturn, Mars and Venus - amble through a nice grassy meadow. The moon is chomping on wheat straws. Saturn is saying wise things about preserving the soil. Mars is gamboling. Venus is picking flowers. And they don't notice that they're just about to walk off a cliff.

Yes, right at the first degree of Libra, they will all encounter the opposition with Uranus, the planet of change, in the fire sign Aries. Uranus' symbol is the lightning bolt, while Aries is known for flash fires.

So all this pleasant tranquility may be coming to an end. But hey! This could be good. Libra is a cardinal sign. It's the sign of justice. How many reformers have had important Libra placements? Eleanor Roosevelt and Fannie Lou Hamer had the sun in Libra, Elizabeth Cady Stanton had Venus and Jupiter in Libra, Aung San Suu Kyi has the moon in Libra, as did Flora Tristan.

Of course, I feel compelled to add, looking at my lists: not everybody with important Libra planets is a reformer, at least not in my terms. It gives a strong sense of right and wrong, but that may not jibe with my own sense of right and wrong. I like to think I have an unclouded sense of justice, but I'm just as partisan as the next Western lesbian feminist baby boomer.

And that is a very Libran thing to say. I adjust to the other. They may not think like me, but they're right in their own way. Live and let live.

Will we be able to stay in balance when Uranus comes zapping down? Will our lack of balance be a good thing, will it bring needed changes that could never exist without that Uranian stimulus? Will we be challenged to say who we are, what we believe, and where we're going next?

And I'm reminded that the Fool in the tarot deck is not a bad card. We are all innocents, and that's what keeps us open to spontaneous possibilities.

Okay, I'm ready. I think. Let me just admire the wildflowers a little longer.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Leading Vibration

I was actually sweating this last weekend. This doesn't happen all that often in north Germany. Some friends from Atlanta were visiting, and for them, this was weather as usual. They probably got tired of us saying, "I don't know what's going on! We NEVER sweat in Bremen!"

I am not one of those astrologers who can predict the weather. Maybe if I knew when a particular cloud was born, I could figure out whether it will rain on us or drift away. Astrology is definitely a study of beginnings. Amorphous things that blend into each other, like weather systems, evade our graphs and angles.

During the last couple of days, the moon has been traveling through Aries, conjoining Uranus and Jupiter, and that has made everything more exciting, not to mention occasionally unpredictable and nerve-wracking. Our Atlantean friends were catching a train to Frankfurt yesterday morning, and it broke down and blocked the tracks, so that the next one didn't arrive either. When they came back to our place, we said, "Amazing. The train always comes."

They're probably going to go home and tell everybody that northern Germany is a swelteringly hot place with unreliable trains.

The cardinal energy is still strong today. The moon is still in Aries, as are Jupiter and Uranus. Mercury, Juno, the sun and the south node are in Cancer, and Pluto and the north node are in Capricorn. All these planets in cardinal signs quicken my blood, make me eager to mark my place in the world. That's probably why I've returned to this blog this morning, promising myself an hour here before other commitments.

I've been thinking a lot about the energy we lead with, as we plow through the world. This is a very Aries-influenced train of thought. Aries is about the thrust towards the future. So I've been checking in with myself more often, thinking about my dominant emotion. What drives me at any particular moment? Sometimes it's joy, sometimes it's irritation, sometimes it's eagerness to experience something, sometimes it's curiosity, sometimes it's a sort of fatalism.

Those of you with strong Aries planets, or (like me) many planets in the 1st house, are probably feeling this increased self-awareness. It's stimulating. It's heady - naturally, since Aries rules the head.

What do we lead with? Doesn't it have a lot to do with where we're going?

Right now, I'm leading with excitement. Mixed in with the excitement is a sense of struggle, as I look for the words that will hold my meaning, as I reread what I've written, as I delete and reorder and rewrite. This struggle - the challenge of writing - holds the excitement, gives it something to do, keeps it with me.

And I feel good doing this. It feels right to me to be writing this blog, in this moment. I'm not feeling the resistance I felt last time, when the Mercury/Saturn square dogged my words.

We are all composed of a clamor of voices, needs, and drives, and they all compete to be the leading vibration. Pragmatism may come forward, with the authority of an earthy Saturn, and then suddenly be bounced by the emotional hungers of a watery moon. And then your Venus jumps in and says, "But hey, girls just want to have fun!" And for a moment, that's what you're doing. Until a cool airy Mercury moves in with a bemused overview.

And if two planets are in hard aspect to each other, one is more likely to jump in when it sees the other in the forefront. "No! Get that moon out of there! She'll just muck things up!" This is Saturn talking, when there's a hard moon/Saturn aspect in your chart. Saturn naturally wants to get in front and get everything back in order. But if she pushes the moon too harshly to the side, the moon will need a lot more comfort and reassurance when she finally manages to be the leading vibration again. And she will.

This is one reason it's good to make peace between your planets in conflict. Your vibration can be purely one thing - just the red anger of your fiery Mars, or the soft vulnerability of your watery moon - but it's often a hybrid. It can be the restrained wisdom of your airy Saturn coupled with the sensuality of your earthy Venus, so that you're having a great time but are also aware of your limits.

But that's different from holding your vibration back. Sometimes you have the energy right there, in the forefront, moving towards the future, vibrating like a house afire, making something happen. And some other part of you is saying, "No, no, that won't work," without putting anything new forward. Saturn can do this a lot.

You gotta love Saturn. You really have no choice about this.

And so when you catch Saturn doing this, you have to recognize that this negativity comes from somewhere. Suppose you've thought of something you really want to do, something incredibly interesting and time-consuming, and then suddenly you get a little depressed because you know you don't have time to do it. This is Saturn nixing that vibration. "Don't even think about it. You've got to finish XYZ first!"

So what do you do? You give Saturn what she wants, mainly Time.

You tell her, "It's there. It's beautiful, this idea. And I'll do it when I have time."

So there she is, right there in the leading vibration. There's Saturn. You can throw anything else in there with her. As long as you make sure there's Time.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I've Been Meaning to Do This

I had a great first line ready for this blog. It was: "Now that the sun is in Gemini, I think more and more about blogging." But it will have to remain a facebook update. The sun is no longer in Gemini.

Why am I starting a blog, when there are so many other astrology blogs in the world? For many reasons, but the main one is that I want to heighten my own consciousness of sky patterns. And writing does that, at least for me. When I write about something, I come to know it in a deeper and more intimate way.

And so in writing, I want to learn, and in learning, I want to make change. I've been an astrologer for forty years, and I love my work. But I also want to examine the assumptions that all of us astrologers make, and to see if I can use my own experiences to break through into new ways of thinking.

And so I am starting this blog even though Mercury is making some mean-looking aspects today, squaring Saturn and moving towards the square of Jupiter/Uranus.

And the Mercury/Saturn square is living up to its reputation in many ways.

For example, my spouse just called me from the office and told me that she is swamped with work, and had to reschedule her physical therapy appointment.

And I just updated my website and spent a fruitless hour trying to link something to something on the same page. (When I searched for the answer, I found out that it's a limitation of the program I'm using.)

And I haven't studied German yet today, and Saturn is scolding me for that. ("Why are you doing this? You should be studying German!") I live in Germany, so I try to make studying German a daily thing.

So clearly the Mercury/Saturn square is affecting me, and yet I plug on, writing this blog. Because even though Saturn, the stern Crone planet, wants me to stick to my language lesson routine, this blog is also something I've been meaning to do for a long time. It's about time. Saturn reminds me that my time in this skin is finite, bounded by days and years. If I don't write this now, I might wake up one morning and say, "I always meant to start a blog. I wonder why I never did?"

And in the middle of that last paragraph, my spouse called me to ask my opinion on an email she was writing. Was it worded too strongly? I told her this morning that Mercury was coming up to the conjunction of her Mars and she should watch out for conflict-prone situations.

Back to the blog. What's that I was saying? Oh yes. Mercury and Saturn. Delays relating to communication. Questions. Insecurities. Organizational hassles. Inaccessible information. Systems with limitations. Overly rigid rules.

But Saturn is also about structure. Saturn builds things that last.

This is such a powerful moment in time, and that's why I'm starting this blog now - even though I have lots of very Saturnine doubts about whether it will really work. But in two days, the full moon will bring a lunar eclipse. Six planets, plus the nodes, will be in early cardinal signs.

Mercury, the sun, and the south node will be together in Cancer. (Juno is there too.) Ranged across from them will be the moon, Pluto and the north node in Capricorn. At right angles to them will be Jupiter and Uranus in Aries. And on the other side of the wheel, Saturn in Virgo is still a player, turning this configuration into a grand cross.

Only Neptune has bowed out of this grand cross. And she has her own little coterie, as she's conjunct Chiron and the Black Moon Lilith.

When have I ever seen so many of the outer planets involved in a grand cross? No wonder astrologers everywhere are running around in a frenzy. It seems clear that we are at a pivotal historical moment.

(Aside: the Mercury/Saturn square wrenches me back to the present moment, as I realize that my usual way of cutting and pasting text doesn't work here. I laboriously retype a paragraph. I wonder if I'm spelling "laboriously" right and look it up. This could not be more Saturnine.)

So, let me find my way back to the pivotal historical moment. Which way will we pivot? The closest planet to the full moon will be Pluto, and Pluto rules power, transformation, and yes, oil. Is this oil spill the spark that changes the way we deal with power? Or have we turned an ecological corner, and damaged more than we can fix?

I know something new is starting. I have to say that that Jupiter/Uranus conjunction really turns me on.

Okay, now it's clear that this blog is going to be for fellow astrologers! Am I limiting myself too much? There's the Mercury/Saturn square again, questioning everything, refining the structures that I'm putting into place.

But it does turn me on. That Jupiter/Uranus conjunction is beautiful. It's exciting pioneer energy, it's a new beginning, it's rash and crazy and reminds me of my misspent youth. Here I am, a white-haired woman of almost sixty, quite respectably married to my partner (although we wouldn't be so respectable if we lived in the US, since we're both women). But why am I getting excited by the rebel energy of that Jupiter/Uranus conjunction? What do I expect it to do for us?

Am I assuming that there will be a hero? Aries is the sign of heroes. Do I think someone will come charging out on a white horse and save the day? (I am actually fantasizing a tribe of Amazon aliens, if you must know.) Or do I think we will all become a little more heroic?

And this is a grand cross. Every planet is dealing with several hard aspects. Can Jupiter/Uranus in Aries cope with the heavy weight of Pluto in Capricorn? Will it be broken by the pressure? After all, Capricorn is the sign of Time itself. Capricorn has the weight of centuries of tradition, and this is where Pluto is drawing its power. Can the fresh young energy of Jupiter/Uranus in Aries break through that?

Time will tell. It's always time that does the telling. And so that's why this blog is going to be about time.