Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hello 2014

Goodbye, 2013.  It was a good year for lesbians in the US, with marriage equality established in so many new states (starting with Maryland), and with DOMA being struck down by the Supreme Court.  And it was a good year for me and Marisol, as we got married for the third and probably the last  time. 

I know a lot of other lesbian couples who’ve experienced multiple marriages.  And there are still a lot of my friends who are experiencing the schizophrenia of being married federally but not locally.  These are the long-time couples who leave their Florida or Georgia homes and take a little vacation in New York City, announcing their marriages obliquely on facebook. 

 There are still other rights and protections that we gay people need, but marriage rights are a huge piece of the puzzle.  After all, what sets us apart is our choice of partner.  Of course, gender identity questions are connected to this as well, but hey, they’re connected to everything.  To me, gender stereotypes and misogyny are the most basic sources of social dysfunction, along with racism.   

 But what makes you gay is the romantic, emotional and sexual connection to someone matching your gender, regardless of who you each are as individuals.  And so when this attachment is seen as legitimate, we’ve won this particular battle. 

 And, yes, I know that the level of suffering has risen for gay people in Nigeria, Uganda and Russia.  I know that same-sex relationships must still be hidden in many parts of the world, as well as in parts of the U.S.  There are still people who don’t dare to love, for fear of losing their jobs, alienating their communities, or being turned out from their families.   But still I’m heartened by the progress we’ve made, enormously heartened.  And I say that 2013 has brought us further along, further towards winning this battle, than any year in U.S. history.

 Love is an enormous healing force.  When humans have the right to love – without being mistreated or harassed around it, without having to deny or hide it  – then there’s a rush of well-being that travels like a soft wind, and affects everyone, no matter their political stance.  Unhappy people are unhappy parents, children, siblings, neighbors, workers, drivers, shoppers, cops, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and salespeople -  and if you’re next in line, you may be the person who gets the brunt of that misery.   There is really no down side to providing safe passage for love. 

 And what about 2014?  How does the coming year look for gay people, and for all people?  

 Neptune continues in its own sign -  the gentle, spiritual sign Pisces, where it’s been since early in 2012 -  and this is about blurring boundaries and erasing divisions between people.  I think Neptune’s sign has had a lot to do with the burgeoning acceptance of the right to love freely.  Historically, gay relationships have required a great expertise in sleight of hand, and Neptune is the planet of magicians and shape-shifters. 

 So I think these trends will continue, and perhaps the most homophobic countries will experience a gentling of attitudes as 2014 goes on.  Neptune in Pisces also indicates a rise in spiritual awareness, and this has nothing to do with established religion.  Pisces has more to do with the barefoot saint, the holy ones who see beyond the sharp angles of the material world.  Look at our current Pope, who stresses the truly spiritual qualities of humility and acceptance, rather than the power, control and stern judgment associated with the office. 

However, there are definitely some hard edges to the coming year.  The changes begun in 2011 and 2012 will continue to manifest, sometimes in abrupt and controversial ways, as the Uranus/Pluto square is still strong in the coming year.  This gives a revolutionary urge to dismantle existing structures. This breaking-down process can doesn’t always lead to any kind of liberation, and sometimes the effects are tragic.  And sometimes it means that the existing powers find stronger defenses for their corporate and governmental institutions. 

Uranus is in Aries, the sign of individuality and direct action,  while Pluto's sign, Capricorn, stands for the power of government and corporations.  So there’s a David and Goliath feel to the situation, with the brave individual and the powerful giant. 

On the one hand, it’s the primeval struggle between father and son for power, a basic theme in patriarchy.  On a broader level, it’s the process of dismantling all tight, limiting structures for newer and freer systems.  The danger is that in a violent reach for power, only the strongest survive, and then the new systems they create tend to be more repressive than before. 

 In the world we live in, the US is seen by many as a behemoth, an arrogant and unconscious power.  This encourages young men to become the Hero of the story, to become David, even when the sacrifice is the ultimate one.   This is when it becomes obvious that both the brave individual hero and the giant institution are male entities, and so this is a father/son fight.  We all know that more women in the picture corresponds to less posturing, and moves us all closer to compromise and peace. 

 Is the US a behemoth, an ugly giant?  This country’s saving grace is the ebb and flow of democracy, which prevents it from becoming totally calcified.  With this, it becomes more responsive to the voices of women, people of color, gay people, and immigrants.  However, it incurs the wrath of those white men who call themselves the Tea Party, and who would rather drown democracy than share power with those who are unlike them.   Like the terrorists throwing themselves against the walls of this institution, they are also funded by men who maintain a strong but rigid structure.

 Where is the true individualism?  Where do we see it?  It doesn’t show up much in the newspapers, or in the shifting balance between the larger powers.  We will have to look closely to see it in 2014, but it will be there.  And of course, as always, the best place to look is within.

And for gay people, as we become freer to love, we are freer within ourselves.  What do we do with this freedom?  What do we do with this newfound strength?  It can be such a relief to blend in, to be like everyone else, to be accepted, and we may not feel the need to go out and get involved in any kind of social or political struggle.  And yet, as long as we live in a world of dueling patriarchies, none of us are safe. 

The challenge in 2014 will be to recognize how much our lives are woven into certain larger structures, while at the same time recognizing that constant spark of freedom within ourselves.  We have the right to think for ourselves, and to act for ourselves.  But in everything we do, interconnecting structures are formed, undermined, and formed again.  Let us do this consciously. 

And so happy new year!  May 2014 be a year of peace, of growing understanding between us all.  May we spread our love around.  May we love many.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lights and Action

Here in the northern hemisphere, the seasonal celebrations do make sense.  It’s scary when the sun begins to disappear, and so people need to compensate with brightness and glitter.   I can imagine the conversation going like this, as those early Europeans hung out in front of their caves, whittling goddess figures with bits of flint.

“Is it just my imagination, or is the sun leaving us a little earlier every day?”

“OMG, you’re right!  Have we offended it, do you think?”

“Maybe we should get out some shiny things that look like the sun.  If it sees pictures of itself, it will want to stay longer.” 

 “Great idea.  I’ll put some torches up in the trees, and you go get some iridescent rocks.”

 We still do this.  The effort gets more and more frenzied until we get to the winter solstice, and then, miracle of miracle, it works.  The sun takes note of our homage to its brilliance, and begins to stay longer. 

This is also the season dedicated to the two-thousand-year-old sun god, Jesus.  It seems that Jesus was a gentle, peaceful figure for the most part, with a message about forgiving everyone and not owning anything.  In its checkered history, Christianity hasn’t always promoted this approach.   What happens when a religion is embraced by the wealthy and powerful, when it’s used to judge and punish?  It’s corrupted – with less and less of the original poverty, humility and compassion.  

 However, some vestiges of the original Jesus story pop up now and then.  The Pope, for example, said, “Who am I to judge?”  This is not to say that the Pope and I agree on a lot of things, but it’s nice that we are both trying to be less judgmental.  We all know that Jesus was not into casting stones.   I also appreciate the ministers who have been quietly urging their congregations to support and sign up at the government health care website.  I’ve heard that Jesus was into taking care of the sick.

 In our society, there’s a pressure towards excess at this time of year, because we live in a world that equates commercial enterprises with success.  Spiritual practices – including Christianity – can offer a different set of values, ones that are older and more powerful. 

 It’s a contradictory time, partly loud and boisterous, partly quiet and meditative - and that makes sense since the sun is moving through one of the double signs, Sagittarius, and soon Mercury will be there too.  Sagittarius is the centaur - half human and half animal - and this sign is always trying to get away from itself, and concurrently trying to get itself together.  Inner peace and balance are not easy to achieve when the horsy part of yourself is always eager to run, to leap, to chase ecstatically through the fields.  Whenever anything is good, more is better.  Whenever anything is tough, there’s always the temptation to run away.     

 But during the next month, the impulsive fire of Sagittarius is tempered by more watery influences. Water is not as strong as it was in November, but  Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune are still in water signs, so there continue to be a lot of strong feelings.  Intuition is acute, delicate sensibilities more pronounced, and there are deep sympathies that can dissolve the usual divisions between people. 

 A balancing influence during the middle of December is the trine between Jupiter in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio.   Jupiter expands and Saturn contracts, so these planets have opposite effects most of the time.  They are the two social planets, with Jupiter encouraging social connections, rewarding people for their gifts to the community, while Saturn demonstrates the social limits, and scolds people who flout traditional taboos. 

 This harmonious aspect shows more responsiveness between the two.  When they are in trine, Saturn is less cautious and fearful, and Jupiter less ambitious and extravagant.  They take turns, each allowing the opposite principle to operate.   Jupiter expands until it no longer makes sense to go further, and Saturn contracts until it no longer feels good to guard the limits.   Each rescues the other from extremism.  And so we may see everybody being more reasonable, especially around the time this aspect is exact on December 12. 

 However, this is followed by the full moon on December 17, in the fast-moving signs of Sagittarius and Gemini, on the same day that the rebellious planet Uranus goes direct.  A lot of energy is unleashed at this time.  It’s a time when things can run away, catch on fire, or get hit by lightning, so it’s not the best time to do anything wild and crazy.  If you can stop yourself.     

 And this begins a tumultuous few weeks.  The harmonizing Jupiter/Saturn trine recedes, like a couple of maiden aunts edging away from a murder scene.  And Mars engages with the Uranus/Pluto square.  Mars represents the urge to action, and it’s currently moving through the peace-loving and justice-seeking sign Libra.  Thinking of the pope, I’m moved to ask if we can seek justice without making judgments.  It has been done before.  Think Nelson Mandela.  It requires the ability to forgive, while not forgetting. 

 Even in the idealistic sign and generally moderate sign Libra, though, Mars is forceful.  And it will be leaping into a long-running  war – the Uranus/Pluto square, the conflict between new rebellious forces and old entrenched interests.  Old systems, ways of dividing people based on class, race and gender, are crumbling, and this is mostly a drawn-out process.  But this is one of those times when there’s more and faster movement, and when the resistance is also stronger.  Battle lines will be drawn.   

Mars is going to be in Libra till next spring, since it retrogrades here, and it will engage with the Uranus/Pluto square twice more.  And so the message will be writ large, and then underlined a couple of times.  Mars in Libra asks how we choose to treat each other, how we can cooperate, how we can live peacefully together in this world.  And because it’s Mars, it doesn’t always ask politely.   

These are the questions that come up, loud and clear,  as we move through another solstice, and towards the end of another calendar year.  It’s one of those times when several cycles come together, and these times are always unstable but highly creative.  Mars, as a catalyst, will point unerringly towards the next collective change – and it will be about balancing the scales.   

Friday, November 1, 2013

Silent Change

Everything changes so completely at this time of year.  One week, I stand on the walkway in front of our house and see green trees all around me, and the next week, the yard has become gold with dropped leaves.  When did it happen?  There was no particular moment of shift.   The change was both dramatic and imperceptible.

 This is not uncommon.  We are living through a time of extreme changes, but it’s hard to say when one phase ends and the next begins.  We just passed the fourth exact square of Uranus and Pluto, the middle of a four-year shift, but it won’t be till sometime in the future that we’ll be able to look back and see exactly what happened during this time.

 As November begins, Mercury is retrograde, so it’s a time of reflection, of taking stock, of checking to see what damage has been done.  For the Republican party, there’s been plenty, and so there’s a general shifting of allegiances as the more moderate politicians disassociate themselves from the lunatic fringe.   

For the government (and by extension, the Democrats) there are also embarrassments.  For one thing, the spying program is getting a lot of publicity, and it’s definitely not used to this.  All countries spy on each other’s citizens, and by tacit agreement, nobody says anything about it.  There are always groups of people who know what’s really going on, while the rest of us just sit around reading thrillers and watching spy films and feeling very little affected by the real thing.

 Many surveillance programs were put in place with the Patriot Act, a bill that garnered a great deal of liberal outrage when it was signed by George Bush.  Basically, it said that the government doesn’t need any excuse (or a warrant)  to read your emails or listen to your phone conversations, because, after all, you might be a terrorist.  And if you have nothing to hide, what are you so upset about?
Now it’s ironic that the Act is biting a Democratic administration on the butt.  But since it is, maybe all the conservatives who rallied for it in the first place will take steps to revise it. 

And these revelations about surveillance – and the answering outrage – fit in well with the astrological picture, since this is a time when the sun, Mercury, Saturn and the north node are all in Scorpio, the sign of secrecy.  Scorpio rules not only the process of hiding things, but also the inevitable point when they are revealed.  It’s the sign of death and rebirth, dedicated to shape-shifting.  Nothing ever really dies, although many things are buried.  Now is the time when some of these things return.  And if you had a lot of zombies stopping at your door last night and asking for candy, you saw this in action.

The drone program, too, has been largely undercover.  Sleek planes zoom out of a blue sky and kill people in a chillingly surgical way.  Better than bombing cities and slaughtering hundreds, right?  And also easier to ignore, until a couple of Pakistani children testify to Congress about watching their grandmother murdered before their eyes.

 Halloween always happens with the sun in Scorpio, the sign which takes everyone closer to that breath-catching portal between the worlds.  But this year, there are stronger Scorpio influences, with Saturn and the north node – both karmic pointers – in this sign.  And so we are all using this time of stasis, when Mercury is retrograde, to go deeper, to learn the things that we aren’t sure we want to know. 

 Scorpio is associated with deep, moist places – caves, cellars, deep wells, and the unconscious.  Often the things that emerge from these places are moldy, and they smell like anger, fear, paranoia, anxiety, and obsession.   With the intense concentration of Scorpio elements, a lot of very old stuff is being dug up right now, released to the healing influence of fresh air.   Often there’s good stuff underneath the crust   – courage, desire, self-preservation.  How to reclaim it? 

 This process is ongoing at this moment in our history.  There are still a lot of truths to uncover, and many of them will emerge during the second half of the Uranus/Pluto square – from now until 2015 – as the world slowly takes a different shape.   Later on, we’ll ask, “How did we not know that?  How is it possible that we couldn’t see it?”  But we can only see what we are ready to see.  And when we finally learn to see into the shadows, we’ll know how to live in the light. 
Meanwhile, change walks among us on silent feet.  The ones who are screaming loudest are not the ones who are directing it these days. 
So don't be afraid of what's been hidden.  When you brush off the dirt and mold, sometimes you find old lessons about surviving together on this planet.   Learn what you can.  And if you live in Winchester, Virginia, vote for my brilliant brother, Larry L. Yates, for delegate.  He's been a truth-teller and a change agent all his life. 



Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Roving Lesbian Astrologer
October 2013

So they did it.  They shut down the federal government. 

I admit to being a bit of an anarchist.  I sometimes fantasize about a world in which people could live without laws, guided by a sense of justice, tempered by kindness.  However, I don’t think this is the way to get to that place.  Having a fully functional government on Friday and shutting it down on Tuesday – well, that’s a bit abrupt.  I don’t think we’re quite ready to do completely without it, guys.

But tell that to those Republicans. 

It’s funny how this party that was once so cautious, so straight-laced, so resistant to any kind of change, has become a bunch of flaming anarchists.  They’re definitely a different animal, and I don’t think anyone could call them conservative any more.   They’re the red flags, the wild-eyed ones, the revolutionaries. But wait, don’t revolutionaries have to have some kind of unifying principle?  What is it, for them, exactly? 

It’s pretty unclear.  Are all these contortions just their resistance to the first African-American president?  Pathetic but possible.  Is it all part of a well-funded master plan to eliminate the inconveniences of democracy entirely  - by weakening government and strengthening the power of corporations? Lots of evidence pointing that way. 

Astrologically, this is all about the Uranus/Pluto square, the revolutionary aspect I’ve been writing about since it first went into orb with Occupy Wall Street in 2011.  The Tea Party is the flip side of Occupy in some ways, perhaps a reaction to it.  But it succeeds, not just because it’s got some deep pockets to draw from, but also because it speaks to a collective sense that something is intrinsically wrong.  A lot of people, struggling to make their budgets, need a villain of some kind. 

Gay people had that spot for quite a while, but now we’ve been revealed to be fairly harmless.  Nobody could see that many people squealing with happiness because they’re getting married, and still think of us as a threat to the fabric of society.

So it’s the government, like a bad parent, that gets the blame.  And this fits perfectly with the symbolism of the Uranus/Pluto square.  Pluto is in the parental sign Capricorn, while Uranus is in the sign of young blood, Aries.  It indicates an epic battle:  fathers against sons, Zeus vs. Cronus,  established structures against sudden new impulses. 

And right now this ongoing aspect is being triggered by the sun in Libra, turning the square into a T-square, opposing Uranus and squaring Pluto.  Libra is the sign of law, and in the sharp angles of this figure, law is threatened.  The main law that’s under attack right now, of course, is the Affordable Care Act.  But we can see from this configuration that this is only one prong in an assault on our current approach to law-making, with its emphasis on compromise. 

Most  laws are hammered out over time, by people with fundamentally different belief systems, and the effect is to bring change along slowly.  Too slowly, often, and sometimes people die because of that.  They die because there’s not enough justice in the world, or because there are insufficient social safety nets, or because a useless war generates its own momentum.  But when enough people care enough about the problem, change happens.

And it’s codified in law.  Of course, not every law is good, and I could point to hundreds of U.S. laws that have been purely awful, through the centuries.  But given the flawed democracy that we have, there is still some accountability, and living by law is still better than the alternative. 

So how long will this shut-down last?  The sun/Pluto square is exact on October 1, while the sun/Uranus opposition is exact on October 3.  So there will probably be a lot of fussing, fuming and general unrest until the end of the week.  On Friday night, there’s a new moon in Libra, and I think that will move Congress towards facing its problem – mainly that it’s made itself redundant. I can see a scurrying in the corridors, and people asking each other whether this has gone on long enough.  Then the Tea Party will decide that it’s made its point, whatever the heck it was, and Ted Cruz will figure he’s famous enough, at least for the duration. 

In the early part of next week, Mercury conjuncts Saturn, and this could be called the “sadder but wiser”  aspect.  Everybody has to work extra hard to get it all put back together.  If by some chance the new moon doesn’t bring a compromise, then this could be called the “major depression” aspect.   It is always possible, because the Uranus/Pluto square is getting stronger all the time, and won’t be exact until November 1. 

So we are going to see a lot of agitation, and yes, raising the debt ceiling could be another knock-down drag-out fight.  There’s some creeping uncertainty associated with that, since there’s a Mars/Neptune opposition going into orb right around the October 17 deadline.  This is a Halloween aspect, the kind in which you feel someone breathing down the back of your neck, but you’re not sure if anyone is really there.  I assume this will be the general state of mind at that time, an ongoing anxiety.

But just when everybody is getting accustomed to living on stress medication, Mercury goes retrograde on October 21.  And it actually does this in a pretty benign spot, close to the trine of Jupiter.  So at that point, I think the feeling will be that we dodged a bullet, and hey, c’mon, let’s celebrate.  It will be short-lived, but it will help people relax and take Mercury retrograde in stride.  So you miss an appointment or two?  You’ve still got your health!    

Mercury will be retrograde for three weeks, giving everybody time to clean up from the messes we’ve made.  Government workers will put their equally stressed-out philodendrons back on their desks, and try to catch up on overdue work.  Sex scandals will be back in the news. Obamacare will chug along, with a few glitches which will make the House hyperventilate.  And Republicans, who will still feel the urge for blood, will have to make do with ripping apart their weakest members.

On Halloween, the moon will be in Libra, faintly echoing the current T-square, and so people will think about what law and government mean to them.  At root, government is agreement.  And yes, at root, we need it because we can’t always trust ourselves to do the right thing.  Will we ever be able to live without laws?  Even the birds have their ways of agreeing on territory. 

I think the only way to eliminate laws and government is to completely eliminate scarcity. Maybe that would do it.  And until then,  I’m happy with any laws that take us – however slowly -  in that direction.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On Syria

Roving Lesbian Astrologer
September 2013
On Syria


Syria is in the news these days, and the question that arises is whether the country should be bombed, as a response to their use of nerve gas.  Punishment?  Deterrent?  Would it really function as either of those things?   Is it likely that Bashar al-Assad will respond by saying, “Okay, you got me -  I won’t do it anymore!”  Or is it more likely that hurling a bunch of bombs would be like throwing a match on an already full-blown fire?      

I’d like to say that cooler heads will prevail, because of the harmonious Saturn/Pluto sextile.  Saturn is the planet of wisdom, while Pluto is about transformation.  Ideally, there could be an understanding in the U.S. government that bombing a country is never just a symbolic act, but an actual means of inflicting death on a population.  It’s not pretty.  Ideally, Bashar al-Assad will wake up one morning, smack his forehead, and say, “Whoa!  I’ve accumulated some bad karma!  I’d better cut this out.”   

Well, maybe it won’t go that far.  But Saturn is a cautious planet, mostly conservative when it comes to taking action.  The president’s lobbing of this hot potato to Congress is a case in point.  And it’s true that, with Saturn in sextile to Pluto, a generous helping of basic caution could be a catalyst for some important changes.  If the debate stays in the public eye, without an easy resolution, people will start to think about the underlying issues. 

The other day, I went out with my family to see the newest film hit, The Butler.   It’s the story of one man, a butler in the White House, but also the story of the Civil Rights Movement.  In some ways, it’s a feel-good movie, because people in the U.S. can say that we’ve come a long way since those primitive days when Ku Klux Klan goons overturned buses full of idealistic young people.  On the other hand, I think this film also brings up some very uncomfortable feelings. It reminds us of the atrocities we are capable of inflicting on each other.   

And I think it’s good to be reminded of this occasionally, especially when we’re on the verge of bombing a population that seems intrinsically foreign to us.  In astrological symbolism, Pluto is about The Stranger, that shadowy figure who seems to embody everything we are not, and yet who lives in our psyches.  People spend a lot of time trying to root out the Stranger (also known as the Devil).  Pluto is also about power, and a harmonious aspect involving Pluto can give an opportunity to find new (wiser and more cautious) ways of using our power, and owning our shadows. 

At the same time, this aspect is realistic, and it doesn’t make the underlying problem go away.  What responsibility do we have, when we see humans subjected to abusive behavior in other countries?  At the least, we have the responsibility to protest, to express outrage, and to publicize the truth.   And when we pay attention to outrages in other countries, we may also take the harder step and admit that injustice, oppression and deep crevices of fear still exist in our own country. 

A few weeks ago, I went to the March on Washington, the anniversary of the one in which Dr. King gave his most famous speech.  There was a good crowd of people, celebrating, reminiscing, underlining a message that had been given fifty years before.  I walked along under an array of purple balloons, happy that lesbians and gays are included in the dream.   

But with all the things that have changed in this half-century, it’s still clear that some things haven’t.  There are underclasses in the United States;  there are underclasses everywhere.  And the destruction caused by institutional violence helps to create and maintain these marginalized populations, one way or another. Sometimes it’s bombs and tanks, crumbling people’s houses.  Sometimes it’s police or neighborhood vigilantes, too quick to fire.  Sometimes it’s the static violence of prison.  All these things are supported by financial interests, and all the financial interests are safely away from the violence enacted. 

So what will the Saturn/Pluto sextile of October do?  What can we hope for?  Maybe a pause, before we lift the heavy hand of power?  Maybe an understanding of what we do, so often and so thoughtlessly?  I’m hoping so. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cozy in Canada


Roving Lesbian Astrologer

August 2013





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.