Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lost on This Earth

Every day before lunch, I go for a short walk along the creek, down to the bridge.  Even on a cold, soggy day like today, I know it will be beautiful.  There are the bare branches all tangled against the sky, the muted orange and gold of the fallen leaves giving a crinkly texture to the ground, and the raindrops forming perfect concentric circles in the water.   

And I see a lot of squirrels, looking pretty fat and healthy, and busily ferrying nuts around.  They don’t seem unduly anxious about the coming winter.  They have a plan, the same one they’ve had in past years, and it hasn’t failed them yet. 

How are we humans doing?  Do we have a plan?  Today in Paris, leaders from all over the globe are meeting to discuss saving the planet for future generations.  This is a new thing, earthlings working together, attempting to use collective knowledge for the collective good on such a large scale.  But clearly we have to change our approach in a very basic way, partnering with the planet instead of competing against natural forces.

At this moment in history, most of us are a little lost.  We are passive, disconnected to our own power and agency.  Unlike the squirrels, we don’t have a clear connection between our day-to-day activities and the things we truly need to survive.  

We are all quite dependent on machines and technology which we don’t fully understand.  Many of us spend all day working at jobs which do not directly contribute to anyone’s well-being.  Some people create useful objects, but often do it in unhealthy, dehumanizing environments.    

And here in the US, a great deal of money and energy is dedicated to turning us into consumers, those who buy great quantities of stuff.  And as we buy things, we know that these objects are made cheaply, designed to fall apart as soon as possible, so that we will buy the same objects again.  In other words, even as consumers, we are not respected enough to be offered real value.   

All of this is bad for us and bad for the earth.  To survive on this planet, we’ll have to give up these mindless activities, along with all the garbage they produce.  It seems clear, looking around at the things the earth makes, that beauty and harmony are her choices in most situations.  If we learn to live in harmony with her, it will be because we echo her creativity, ingenuity, and style.       

Ambiguity, uncertainty and passivity relate to the planet Neptune.  And addiction is also a Neptunian thing.  When you don’t have a sense of power, you just reach for whatever feels the best, because it doesn’t much matter what you do.  When you’re not grounded on the earth or in your skin, then the best choice is to find an overpowering sensation and let it take you over.  And our society provides many choices of addiction, one to suit every personality.     

Right now, Neptune is strong in its home sign, Pisces, and it’s making a hard aspect to Saturn.  Saturn is the planet of limitation and scarcity, so this mix produces fear.  There’s an ongoing sense of threat, but no clear sense of its origins.  Our passivity feels wrong, but there’s still no clear signal for action.   

The attacks in Paris generated a lot of fear; they were felt as an electric shock here in the US.  Fear has been used as a cynical campaign tool for quite a while, but this approach has been escalating with the candidacy of Donald Trump, who is the master of social scapegoating.  Feel powerless?  It’s their fault, whoever “they” are.   And, in the twisted logic of a bully, these scapegoats are both capable of terrible things, and at the same time, weaklings and “losers”.    

This incendiary speechifying has resulted in a spate of domestic terrorism, such as the recent shootings at the Minneapolis Black Lives Matter rally, and the attacks on Planned Parenthood.  Fear makes people attack anyone who seems alien in any way, even if that person is an orphan child coming from a war zone. 

These issues will be with us for a while, although the Saturn/Neptune square will weaken as December goes on.  But this is just the first pass of an aspect which will be a big player in 2016.  It will return in the spring, and be in orb for about five months.  So we will have a lot of opportunities to work on this question of amorphous fear.  We will have to identify these terrifying figures in the mist, and that means coming closer to them.  It can mean stripping off their masks and seeing someone you thought you loved, or perhaps seeing yourself. 

During hard Neptune aspects, you have to find a way to move through the fog, towards whatever light you can spot.  The Paris talks are a beacon, although we still don’t know if they’ll succeed in any real sense.  Is the world too far gone?  Have we destroyed ourselves already? 

Neptune is not just the planet of confusion and ambivalence.  When we’re driven crazy by illusions and deceptions, we go inward, and so Neptune leads us to the still small voice of truth within.  This is our connection to the cosmos, which is both inside us and around us.  Neptune dissolves ego barriers, sometimes painfully, and puts us in touch with a greater consciousness. 

And Saturn is the voice of experience, telling us what hasn’t worked in the past.  Facing that can be flattening, but it’s a necessary first step to living more fully and wisely on this planet.  We can work together to build lives that are healthy, grounded, and accountable.  Some of us are doing this, without any sense of certainty, with just enough faith to keep on.  But some of us can’t find that, and are just howling in the wind. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

After This, I Promise, No More Political Predictions

A couple of nights ago, I watch the Republican debate in Boulder.   I haven’t watched any of their other debates, but my grandmother-in-law was curious.  And so my wife brought home a couple of six packs, and we all made a drinking game out of it.  Every time they said they’d cut out a major department or program – the Education Department, the IRS, etc – we drank.  Every time they mentioned Nazis, Communists, or Benghazi, we drank.  When anybody told a lie, we drank.  (We missed quite a few, though, as I found out later.)  

 I was drinking hard cider, Marisol was drinking beer, and my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law were drinking non-alcoholic beer.  We were all pretty tipsy by the end of the evening. 

And although I can’t form a real opinion until the Bad Lip Reading version comes out, it did make me start thinking.  It is very, very tempting for an astrologer to make predictions about the election based on the aspects at the time.  And I’m not that kind of astrologer, I don’t generally go around predicting things.  I talk about the options.  I describe all the different possibilities that each transit can bring, and the various ways you can make good use of the energy. 

No astrological transit is absolutely good or bad, and there’s no way to be specific about how it’s going to manifest.  Most events have many nuances, with rippling outcomes over time.  If an astrologer tells you you’re going to walk out of your house and get hit by a falling anvil, and it happens, then they’re very psychic.  Or they happen to know your upstairs neighbor is an Olympic medalist in the anvil toss.    

Still, I couldn’t help it.  I had to look.  And I have to say it looks pretty good for Hilary on Election Day 2016.  Uranus in Aries is trining her Saturn, and this is a transit that brings together the new and the old.  This could mean that her years of political experience will take her to a new beginning.  It  doesn’t look like an aspect that signals retirement. 

And there’s more.  Saturn in Sagittarius will be trining her Mars/Pluto conjunction, and this Mars/Pluto conjunction is what gives Hilary her stubbornness, her grit, and her ambition.  This doesn’t necessarily mean winning an election, but it does indicate that she is going to be really focused and strong around that time.  She’s not going to make a false move.

On Election Day, the asteroid Juno will be at the first degree of Sagittarius, the sign of vision and inspiration, and it will conjunct Hilary’s Jupiter.  This is a fitting aspect for the first female president.  Juno has been found to show up a lot in charts connected to social leadership and public service, and it’s important in Barack Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s charts as well.       

So then naturally, I’m wondering who her opponent is going to be.  At this point, it could be anybody.  None of the Republican candidates seem particularly viable to me, but that’s just my perspective as a middle-of-the-road lesbian feminist, somebody who doesn’t believe that guns are the most effective deterrent to government overreach.    

So let’s look at the Republican convention in Cleveland next July, and see what kind of aspects these folks will be fielding. 

First of all, there’s an element of surprise.  The moon/Pluto conjunction that introduces the convention indicates intense power-brokering, still going on as it starts, and during the event, there are hard aspects to Uranus (planet of change) from the sun, moon and Mars.  So they may do something daring, mainly nominate someone who doesn’t look like your mainstream white male candidate. 

Uranus in Aries will be squaring Trump’s Saturn, and that looks to me like a very large speed-bump. He’ll actually hit this around the middle of May, when it will occur to him that he’s spending a heck of a lot of money, and not having as much fun as he thought he would.  (Pluto will be squaring his Jupiter too, not good for finances.)  

I think Chris Christie will bow out in January, when Saturn squares his sun, when he’ll be dealing with issues around health or money.  John Kasich is also likely to take a reality pill and bow out early in the year, although he’ll have a good time at his party’s party in July.   Huckabee will have his groupies following him around at the convention, with Pluto sextiling his Saturn and inconjunct his Jupiter, but it’s not his time to rise. 

Things look pretty intense for Rand Paul, with Pluto conjuncting his sun.  Mainly, he’ll be going through an identity crisis of some kind.  Has he compromised his principles?  What are his principles?  Who is he?  This hits early in 2016, but he may try to ride it out.  If he makes a bargain with his devils, he’ll still be a contender at convention time.  But because the aspect comes back more strongly at that time, the stress could get to him, and he could start resorting to strong drink.

Rubio has some nice aspects going for him, although they’re not as dramatic.  But with Pluto opposing his Juno, I don’t think he’s getting the top spot.      

Jeb Bush is a lightning-rod, with Pluto opposing his Uranus and Uranus opposing his Neptune.  If he doesn’t make it to the end, it’s because he has that feeling of being a pawn in the game.  He’s already complained that it’s not the gentleman’s game that his dad and brother got to play.  My sense is that he will be passed over.  However, Saturn is trining his Venus, so he may end up being the compromise candidate, the one considered most solid, and he’ll be most appreciative.    

Ted Cruz’ aspects are actually pretty good at convention time.  Pluto is trining his Saturn/Juno conjunction, so it seems like he’ll be influential.  Neptune will be trining his Mars, giving momentum.  Pluto is also squaring his moon, and so he’ll get a lot of flak from a particular bloc of people – like women.  It could hurt his feelings, but it may not derail him.   

Things look fairly exciting for Carly Fiorina.  There will be several aspects to her Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto, some easy and some challenging, so she will also be a lightning rod at that time.  I think she has a chance to get on the ticket, probably as vice-president.   

Ben Carson has Saturn trining his Jupiter, so he could also be a compromise candidate.   The Republican voters could get behind the idea of a more tractable African-American, after Obama.  They could also calculate that it might get African-American voters to stay home.  Uranus stations right at the inconjunct of Carson’s sun in July, and this could throw him into the limelight.  However, there is a chance he’ll self-sabotage right around the time of the convention.

So, yeah, I think a Carson/Fiorina ticket is possible, and it would be a way for the Republicans to try to get back onto the moral high ground as far as diversity goes, without compromising their core value of shoring up corporate wealth.  And of course, I don’t think anybody is going to fall for that.  I hope.   

Well, now I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve made predictions.  I can never help myself. 

This coming month, there’s a Neptune/Saturn square in mutable signs.  Saturn is about what binds us, while Neptune is about our desire to be unbound, to connect with some beautiful, elusive cosmic goodness.  Neptune can be very escapist, and we all need to get away from reality at times.  But how far away do we get?

So November is a month of flux, of nervous energy, of sudden surges of faith and hope.  Just like all those Republican candidates, everyone has their little pet beliefs, often at odds with reality.  As the month goes on, these beliefs will become fuzzier, attracting the lint of allied convictions. 

At the Republican debate, we learned that if you say everything with confidence, categorically deny whatever is inconvenient,  and make abundant use of scapegoats (like the press), you can “win the debate”.   But can you win the people that easily?  Of course, these candidates don’t need to convince most of us.  They just need to make it all seem clownish, irrelevant, stressful or confusing enough so that most people won’t vote.  And that is what generally happens.  Most folks stay home, symbolically expressing their sense of exclusion from the corridors of power.   

Pluto will be in Capricorn for eight more years, and they will be lean ones, with a focus on maturity, responsibility and accountability.  These are the years in which we fulfill a promise to our descendants, by redesigning our social structure so that it can endure.  In November, our beliefs and illusions bump up against pragmatic realities, and we could sustain a few bruises.  But this is just the beginning.  We will have many, many occasions to separate truth from lies, during the coming years. 



Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Truth of the Earth

I’m not an earthy person.  I’m watery.  But today, I’ve definitely spent too much time in the water;  I’ve been driving around doing errands in the rain all morning.  I’ve been hypnotized by the patter of the drops, the sweep of the wipers, the creeping traffic going from one fuzzy light to the next.  Hurricane Joaquin is apparently lashing this whole side of the country with its soggy low-pressure systems. 

And today I had to give up my sandals, and switch to shoes that actually covered my feet.  Just a week ago, I was in shorts, and now I’m wearing two sweatshirts and three pairs of socks.  I feel sad as I close all the windows, trapping the air until it’s time for the warmth to return.        

I’m not earthy, but I have to be realistic, to face facts.  And that’s what this month’s main aspect, Jupiter’s trine to Pluto, is all about.  With Jupiter moving through Virgo, sign of the carpenter, herbalist, greengrocer, and bee-keeper, there’s an emphasis on dealing with what’s really happening.  The weather is changing.  Quit your whining and handle it, I tell myself. 

Pluto has been in Capricorn for the last seven years, and its focus has been on dismantling, exposing, and rebuilding fundamental structures.  Often, this has been violent, met with powerful resistance.  With Jupiter trining Pluto, this work gets a little easier this month, and this is good for practical activists.  That is, it’s good for people who prefer real-life results to ideological victories. 

And when it comes to earth politics, it seems that we have reached a new level of consciousness.  New energy technologies are being developed and put into use all over the world.  They’re getting cheaper, they’re becoming easier to use, and the momentum is building.  With the scientists, the Pope, and the Democrats all sticking pins in it, the air is hissing out of the climate-change-denial balloon.

But is it just about technology?  New technology is like a rope reaching down to someone who’s hanging off a cliff.  First, you have to get the person back on solid ground.  But then you have to address the person’s tendency to fall over the edge every once in a while.  What’s going on here?

The problem is that we earthlings are still holding onto some basic belief systems which denigrate and disrespect the earth.  Look at these words:  earth, fertility, nature, woman, childbirth, passivity, receptivity, instinct, innocence, emotion, support.  And then look at these:  sky, intellect, man, activity, reason, aggression, dominance, war, leadership, confidence, experience. 

Of course, there are plenty of passive men, earthy men, intellectual women, and aggressive women.  But the male/female opposition, as it’s experienced today on much of this planet, is the wallpaper of all our lives.  We’re so familiar with it that we don’t see it.  And until we can unlink these concepts, we will continue despoiling the earth.

It seems clear to me that men need to become more like women.  I know that it terrifies them, because of the woman/victim connection which they themselves have propagated.  But until we women are seen – and see ourselves – as whole, the earth will also be seen as nothing but a backdrop for war and conquest.  We must respect the earth as our brother, our sister, all at once - active, reasonable, aggressive, fecund, nurturing, creative, knowledgeable.  The earth is all these things.

Jupiter in Virgo deals with the little things we can do, in the process of this healing work.  And every small shift in consciousness and in behavior helps.  Every time somebody refuses their customary label, and instead honors their more authentic self, it moves us towards a healthier way of living.  And there are lots of small actions that promote this, from a man washing the dishes, to a woman speaking her mind in a crowd. 

It’s not an entirely earthy month.  There is water as well, in Neptune in Pisces.  Virgo and Pisces are opposite signs on the zodiacal wheel, and the concrete practical approach of Virgo is opposed by the mysticism and emotional sensitivity of Pisces.  Neptune has been in Pisces now for about three years, and religious enthusiasm has become an ever-stronger force in our world. 

Neptune in Pisces represents the human ability to be hypnotized by our stories about ourselves.  These stories are often amazing, beautiful, and profound.  There is poetry in heartbreak, and many religious myths are powerful expressions of our most basic sorrows. But there is always a contrast between these elaborate tales, and the simple reality of a leaf, or a piece of wood, or a human hand. 

And right now, in this moment in history, there is an ongoing struggle.  The religious right is telling stories that are about the destruction of the earth, and meanwhile, is ignoring the very real physical changes that will leave us with less water, less land, and fewer resources.  Meanwhile, they see themselves as the victims of a war waged by scientists and atheists.

Religious expression is just going to get stronger while Neptune is in Pisces, and it will be here for the next ten years.   But the world is becoming a smaller place, as people move around more, and as they become change agents in different cultures.  And so we are all brushing against each other’s sacred stories, threatening the spells that we’re under. 

When you’re hypnotized by a story, there is only one story, and anyone who suggests differently is breaking you out of your trance.  It’s like being in a movie, and somebody jostles you, and you’re annoyed.  Neptune in Pisces is the film, and this month’s Virgo planets – Jupiter, Mars, and later Venus -  are the various jostling hands. 

“Hey, don’t you think it’s getting awfully hot in this movie-house!”

“Be quiet!  Look at the screen!  He’s just about to save us all!”

But there is a change happening this month too.  With Pluto trining Jupiter, reality will lend a hand.  Maybe it won’t be necessary for the whole movie-house to come crashing down in flames.  Maybe we can turn away from our fantasies, acknowledge the fear and need and terror that gave birth to them, and really look at each other.  And maybe then we can acknowledge that we really do live or die together, on this planet.  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Turning Points of September

 September?  When did September get here?  Although summer is still here by the calendar, it feels like it’s driving away, leaning out the window, waving goodbye.  Off to the Southern hemisphere.

This month is the turning point of the year.  Right now, everything is still lush and green, with just a touch of yellow here and there.  But buried in every leaf is the imprint of its inevitable cycle, a cycle that exists in me as well.  Each of them will eventually make that spiraling journey to the ground. 

This is the time of year when we all hear a little voice in our heads saying, “Prepare.”  We know we must get ready for the leanness of winter.  I don’t have to chop and stockpile wood, or mash berries into jam, or turn over the fields.  I live in a world of central heating and well-stocked supermarket shelves.  But there’s still something in me that listens to that little voice, and that makes ready for change.  

This September is a turning point composed of several pivotal events.  For one thing, there are two eclipses, a solar eclipse on September 13 and a lunar on September 27, and eclipses always signal important new beginnings.  These are chances to throw off some outworn aspect of your life, and begin again.  The solar eclipse occurs in Virgo – where Jupiter is also positioned -  so it’s especially good for changes in health practices, work routines, and daily patterns. 

Virgo is the sign of practical work, of tools, of herbs and grains, and of service to the community.  For our ancestors, this was the time when we worked together to gather and dry and preserve the things that would keep us healthy through the winter.  We shared knowledge about healing techniques.  We made sure that everyone would have what they needed to survive the cold days.  It was a time of industry and efficiency.

This eclipse will bring many people back to an innate sense that things need to be done, and done well and thoroughly, before the season changes.  It will guide people away from the abstract and towards the immediate and practical.  And so it can mean working together towards specific, measurable goals.     

The challenge of Virgo is that it’s a sign of discrimination.  The ability to discriminate is vital to doing a good job;  you have to know what works and what doesn’t.  But old, deeply-held prejudices can give a limited sense of community, so that these Virgoan good works don’t go as far as they could. 

At this solar eclipse, the sun and moon are inconjunct the rebel planet Uranus, and so there’s some tension around the Virgoan tendency to control, define and limit.  Uranus is constantly pushing to open up the dialogue, to act upon a passionate desire for liberation.  But in this new chapter signaled by the eclipse, liberation requires a definite agenda, a set of tasks, a to-do list. 

We see this most clearly in the Black Lives Matter movement, where there’s been success in getting the basic message out, and directing attention to the problem of racist policing.  But continued momentum requires more specific goals, along with a structure that will support these.  That will be the next turning point.  Ecological activists, too, will focus more on tools and techniques, and on finding ways to make them fit seamlessly into ordinary people’s lives. 

When it comes to feminism, the movement has been pretty diffident in the last few decades. The focus has mainly been on health and work issues, rather than on larger, more inclusive messages.  The Virgo solar eclipse underlines this tendency, but it can also mean some significant gains in these areas.  The recent concentrated attack on Planned Parenthood can be fought from a widespread awareness of the practical, immediate value of the organization.  And the battle makes it clear that the right wing is trying to take away some of the tools that women use in our everyday lives.  

The Virgo solar eclipse supports a candidate like Bernie Sanders, who tends to be pretty specific and practical in his approach.  (He has the sun, Neptune, and north node in Virgo.)  When politicians speak in generalized sound-bites, they become much less relevant, and so I think the Virgo emphasis of September will narrow the field. 

On September 17, Jupiter and Neptune face off across the Virgo/Pisces axis.  This axis holds the tension between faith and reason. 

On one side, you have the mystical, transcendent Neptune in Pisces, and on the other, you have the community workhorse, Jupiter in Virgo.  The question that keeps emerging is:  what do you believe?  This question drives Jupiter in Virgo crazy.  For Virgo, if a system works, it’s good, and if it doesn’t, it’s not so good.  It’s not so important what you may believe.  But the right wing is living in a climate supported by a fervent set of beliefs.  And when it pins political stances to questions of faith, the right doesn’t have to make sense.  These beliefs don’t have to “work”.

The right wing largely mobilizes around a rejection of gay marriage and the right to abortion.  People weren’t going to get hot and bothered about tax issues and the rights of corporations, so the party core found something else to get people demonstrating, voting, and donating money.  Something that relates to deeper questions around sexuality and identity, and so feels a lot scarier to those who believe they’ve figured these things out. 

With September’s Jupiter/Neptune opposition, this faith vs. works question is going to be highlighted.  Of course, the best solution is for both sides to identify their areas of faith, as well as their commitment to particular areas of community work.  And this is happening, as social justice movements find religious allies.  Even the Pope has turned out to be an ally in certain struggles. And many right wing religious organizations do practical work in their communities, helping to feed the hungry, so there’s a point of connection there too.  

But when faith is connected to deeper fears, it’s more pointed, more feral.  As Mercury goes into its three-week retrograde phase, right after this Jupiter/Neptune opposition, we are all thrown back into the unfinished business of the past.  Old struggles are re-fought.  Old prejudices and assumptions have to be addressed and vanquished.  And because Mercury is in Libra, there will be some legal battles along the way, and some people will be held accountable.   

And at just about the same time, Saturn enters Sagittarius, the sign of inspiration, philosophy, global awareness and community activism, where it will spend the next two years.  Sagittarius gives an overview.  It hangs a banner high up in the room in which all the Virgo workhorses are doing their thing.  This banner is a call for adventure, a call to create a new future. 

Quite a few revolutionary figures were born with Saturn in Sagittarius, among them Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emma Goldman, Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Maria Montessori, Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Eartha Kitt, Elie Wiesel, Cesar Chavez, Maya Angelou, Sidney Poitier, Che Guevara, Martina Navratilova, and Ellen Degeneres. 

This is not to say that everyone born with Saturn in Sagittarius has had a progressive agenda.  It gives passion for a cause, but not all causes are equally benevolent.  Everybody will be more zealous during the next couple of years, and so there will be some fiery clashes between different world-views. 

But one thing that Saturn in Sagittarius will do is remind us that it’s important to keep moving, to keep envisioning and creating a better world.  There will be times when we’re all trying to do this, while operating at cross-purposes, and there will be a lot of commotion without change.  But there will be other times in which inspiration runs through us.  Each person lights up, and in turn, passes this light to all the people they can reach.  And we can all reach a lot of people.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Love Letter to Michfest

So I’m getting ready to go to Michigan, the fortieth and the last Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.  I haven’t started packing yet, although I leave the day after tomorrow. 

I remember my first Michfest, twenty-seven years ago.  It was 1988, and Marisol and I had just gotten married that spring.  It took a long time to get in the gate, and the sun set before we found ourselves on the land.  We were tired and dispirited as we walked along, carrying all our gear, peering into the shadows, looking for a place to camp.  Marisol was the expert camper, I was a novice, so I was mostly holding the flashlight while she struggled with the various tent pieces. 

The next morning we thought it was raining, but when we poked our heads outside the tent, we found we’d camped right next to the showers.  There were a row of naked women laughing and squealing, since the water was icy cold.  It was endlessly entertaining.  We already felt better about being there. And later on, when we got in the water ourselves, we experienced something akin to being inside a Sno-Cone.

Sometime between now and then, they added heaters to the showers, and so women don’t necessarily sing out when they get into them.  Michfest has changed, grown up.  They used to have a special over-40s area, and at some point, it became over-50s.  Camping has gotten harder for me as I’ve entered my 60s, and Marisol has completely given it up. 

But I still go once in a while.  When I’m there, I still give astrology workshops, as I have since 1988.  I soak up the feeling of being in a woman’s village, a place where women are absolutely safe from predators (except mosquitos).  A place where women can get away from the male ego, and its tendency to demand all the space and all the attention.  A place where we support each other, listen to each other, and give each other room to create.  It’s not like all women are the same, but we do have a culture of our own, and it’s hard to see this in the ordinary world, where the harsher light of male culture drowns it out. 

This is not to say that Michfest has been a peaceful Eden all these years.  Women do differ, and there have been vehement disagreements over all aspects of feminism, sexuality, gender, race, and cultural appropriation. Fierce battles have been fought with words, with the ultimate goal a collective raised consciousness.  It’s an ongoing process, sometimes as shocking as those cold-water showers, but many of these conflicts have led to changes in the way the festival is organized.

In the last few years, Michfest has been embroiled in the most virulent conflict of its life, from a group of MTF transgender activists who say the festival discriminates against them.  They initiated a boycott against Michfest and the artists who performed there.   The conflict may have begun as a desire to be included, but ended up as a campaign to destroy. 

I remember when S/M women felt that there was no place for them at the festival, back in the day, and now there is an area where they can play all night long.  There were signs that this same process of assimilation was happening with trans women, but we’ll never know how it might have played out.  Michfest is ending. 

And from my point of view, there’s still a terrible need for it in the world.  Lesbians are more assimilated than they were in 1988, but feminism hasn’t progressed all that much since then.  There is no other place where several thousand women can live for a week without men. There is no other place where we can discover who we are, and what kind of world can be created without patriarchy. 

The aspects during the coming week show a time of great jubilation, and a time of mourning and sadness, all at once.  Venus, Jupiter and Mercury will be together in the bold, exuberant sign Leo, and this is perfect for getting up on there on the stage and giving everything you have to give.  It’s a wonderful planetary grouping for a week-long celebration, in which every woman dresses in whatever gives her most joy.  It’s great for group hugs and kisses, and campsites festooned in banners and ribbons. 

But all three planets are squaring Saturn, the planet of limitation.  Saturn is about knowing when it’s time to give up, to let go.  Saturn turns out the lights when the party is over. 

And so I expect to see a lot of laughter and a lot of tears, during the coming week.  I’ll be going through my own emotional roller-coaster too, because Michfest has given me so much.  It’s not heaven, but it’s a better world.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oregon Coast Perspectives

June was a runaway month, in more ways than one.  And I’ve run away to Oregon.  As the waiter at Zach’s Bistro said yesterday, I’ve swapped coasts.  And now the ocean is on the wrong side, and everything seems like the inverse of what it was before.

Yesterday I was sticking my toes in the well-chilled waters of the Pacific, thinking about how the US has undergone a sea-change in the last few weeks.

It began with the horror of the AME chuch killings in Charleston.  Like everyone else in the country, I lost something precious when those good people were murdered.  I was ready to bow out as a member of the human race.  Or maybe to pull a Rachel Dolezal and stop being white.  And to retire as an astrologer, too, because I was expecting good things from the Jupiter/Uranus trine.     

But it just brought home that there are really no good or bad aspects in astrology.  The Jupiter/Uranus trine was a release of held-back energy, and it manifested in a lot of ways.  The murderer in the church was a pent-up mass of old fear, guilt and prejudice, and he expressed all that.  He was trying to start a race war, but instead he shocked a lot of white people out of denial.  He represented a demonic undercurrent, a social shadow, and when he brought this shadow out into the light, he forced  people to recognize it.  And so with the energy he unleashed, he destroyed his own flag. 

President Obama, in his eloquent speech at Rev. Pinckney’s funeral, said that the murderer was being used by God -  to bring the flag down, to make a deeper reconciliation out of all that grief.  I can echo that, although I would say “fate” instead of “God”.   What the murderer set in motion was larger than him, larger than the hate he carried. 

Other kinds of held-back energy were released as June ended.   First, Obamacare was upheld by the Supreme Court, and the result was a mass exhalation of relief all across this land.  Worried people everywhere, people with low incomes and sick family members, could rest a little easier.

Then came the gay-marriage decision, followed by a cascade of joy in my community.  Social media exploded with celebrations, not just from my lesbian and gay friends, but from all our allies.   For me and my wife, this means we can live anywhere in the US, without forfeiting any rights.  We can fantasize about moving to Florida when we get old, just like millions of creaky old straight couples. 

And of course, the current doesn’t just stop with us, the gay and lesbian community.  Lots of anti-gay-marriage people have been caught in the same vortex of energy, and are expressing it in the opposite way:  talking about seceding, about getting divorces, about moving to other countries. 

I read a long, hilarious stream of comments from people complaining that the Supreme Court was not taking God’s law into account.  Of course, the first thought that always crosses my mind is how can these people presume to speak for God?  Isn’t that the definition of hubris?  And the second one:  don’t these people know that the Supreme Court is legally required to ignore God, as well as Buddha and Allah?  But as ignorant as these people are, they’re caught in the same whirlwind as me, and, like me, they feed it with their emotional responses.   

So the energy keeps moving, keeps circulating.  None of us can hold a line, in the face of such dramatic social forces.   As we look across the circle, at the people on the other side, we see that they are also rocked.  Those faces that seem so unfamiliar – and sometimes terrifying – are human beings, being summarily shaken out of their stasis. 

As July begins, Venus is slow-dancing with Jupiter, and you can see this lovely conjunction in the western sky after sunset.  We also have a full moon on July 1, further encouraging an outpouring of energy.  With this full moon close to the US’s natal solar position (exact on July 4), this is a chance for everyone to celebrate their own particular take on this country – what it means, what we care about, what we need from our communities, where we are going. 

July doesn’t have the fast pace of June.  Jupiter moves quickly away from the trine to Uranus, although Jupiter represents different things than she did before this aspect happened.  The social contract is a different one these days.  Gay men and lesbians have a little more dignity, a little more visibility -  and we are a little more ordinary than we were before.  (Of course, this takes some getting used to!)  There will still be lots of celebrating all through July, as Jupiter continues in Leo, but there’s also preparation for a more sedate and sensible approach in August, when Jupiter will enter Virgo.

Venus is moving slowly all through the month, because she will go retrograde on July 25, for about six weeks.  During her retrograde phase, Venus will bring back old friends and lovers, old hobbies and pleasures, and old creative inspirations.   This gives everybody plenty of time to chew over the changes that we’ve seen.  Options have opened for everyone in the gay and lesbian community, and that will mean a lot of personal decisions.  Rush to the altar?  Or wait?   As Venus slows down, there’s time to consider what it all means on the most intimate level. 

So in July, there will be a certain sense of arrested energy.   This also gives us all time to think about the earth, our home, as the globe heats up.  In mid-July, there are four planets in Cancer, all bringing up security issues.  Mercury and Mars in Cancer will be opposing Pluto in mid-month, so some deeper concerns will emerge.  What makes us safe as a world?  Trying to avoid everyone who’s different from us?  Or working together to ensure drinking water for our grandchildren?  Piling up riches?  Or helping each other stay healthy? 

The larger picture was drawn for us in June, and now it’s time to fill in the details.  How do we take care of ourselves, each other, and the earth, all at once?  We all have different answers to this question, and sometimes the answers are directly inverse to each other. 

Here, in Oregon,  as I watch the waves break on the shore, I wonder about the profound, subtle changes that cause this constant motion.  One thing is clear though.  We all feel it.  No matter where we stand, no matter which coastline we track, the deep water is common to all of us.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fragments and Splinters

Yay for Ireland!   Here in the US, there’s a tendency to sentimentalize and stereotype Ireland as the old country, the land of leprechauns.  Now it’s shown to be a vital, courageous, cutting-edge place, with a more inclusive social awareness than we have here in the U.S.

In the US, we are getting there.  I’m not going to complain about the progress we’ve made.  As a lesbian, I feel safer and more included every day.  I recently received an official document referring to Marisol as my spouse, and I read it over and over, and took a picture of it.  All the language in the document was purely formal, even robotic, yet it warmed my heart so much. 

Gay rights are good for everyone, but especially for women, since they allow us to exist outside rigidly defined gender roles.  We – both gay and straight women - have fought for centuries for the right to say who we are.  And for at least the last fifty years, lesbians have been the forefront of the feminist struggle, although not always welcomed in that position.

This spring and summer I’m going to three all-women events.  I’ve already been to the first, a lesbian writers’ conference in Georgia and in June, I’ll go to a womyn’s spirituality conference in Pennsylvania  In August, I’ll attend (very sadly) the final gathering of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. 

So I’m getting a good dose of women’s energy – also spelled womyn’s energy or womon energy in our community – and discovering some interesting things.  One of the things I’m finding is that, as mainstream society finds more ways to include and accept us, many women are bowing out of the traditional categories.  They’re breaking it down, smudging, dissecting, experimenting, testing, redefining, rewording. 

After the conference, I found myself sitting in a room with three women who I would’ve called lesbians, but only one of them actually defined herself that way.  The others had chosen alternate genders and more inclusive sexual definitions.  This doesn’t mean that if a man had walked into the room, he’d have had a chance in Hell with these two.  He probably would’ve seen all the piercings, turned pale, and left.  But who knows?  They weren’t actually ruling it out.  They weren’t ruling anything out. 

Maybe it’s a social law, that every border must break down, and every wall must fall.  Or maybe it’s happening more these days, with Neptune going through the amorphous, ambiguous sign Pisces, and the sun, Mercury and Mars all in the multi-faceted sign Gemini. 

And tomorrow there’s a full moon in mutable signs.  This is like a crystal breaking down the light and sending it in a thousand directions.  There is no certainty with this full moon, but there is lots of movement and much communication.  I feel sorry for people who make their living espousing absolute dogmas, especially during the next couple of weeks.  Only those with quicksilver minds will be heard. 

Feminist lesbians – now considered a venerable elder population by many younger and genderqueer women – do have some insecurities around all these shifting definitions.  We’ve worked hard to own the word “lesbian”, and to honor everything womanly.  Believe me, this has taken some work in this androcentric world we all still live in.  And it’s not like the work is done.  Women are still endangered, belittled, and condescended to, even here in the US.  And there are many countries in which our situation is much more critical. 

Transgender people have done some good work in getting the message out about male privilege, since they’ve experienced treatment as both genders.  But there’s also been a pitched battle between some transgender activists and the longstanding traditions of some lesbian communities.  There are many women who are not ready for the splintering of our self-definitions, especially imposed from the outside.    

There is a lot of grief in womyn’s community around the ending of the Michigan Womyn’s Festival.  For forty years, Michfest has been a week-long protected space for thousands of women, but it’s been attacked quite virulently by trans activists who feel that it does not honor their experience.  Still, that leaves a lot of women who’ve found a safer home there than anywhere else in the world.   I’ll be going to give a workshop on astrology this year, and I know I’ll be encountering a lot of tears, everywhere I go. 

But that’s in August.  In June, I’ll be going to a goddess festival, and most of the women around me will be lesbians, feminists and/or pagans, with a hunger for a womanly image of the divine.  And that’s what I’ll be looking for too.  I want to find my inner strength and wisdom right there alongside my femaleness.  I want to combine these things, fractured early on by the world in which I live.    

The shape-shifting properties of June will continue strong until the summer solstice.  At that point, a fiery Jupiter/Uranus trine gathers all the energy up and looks for some exciting ways to express it.  Whatever happens around the solstice has great potential for creative change.  We may see heroes, villains, clowns and avatars, all a little larger than life.  

As June comes to an end, there will be many large gestures – extravaganzas, festivals, performances, celebrations, fireworks -  as Venus and Jupiter come together in the exuberant sign Leo.  There’s also a lot of emotional energy, with the sun and Mars together in the family-oriented sign Cancer.  This lends itself to reunions, block parties, and other ways to give energy to the places and people who have nurtured us. 

So June ends on a high note, but the questions remain.  There are no pat answers, just fragments of old definitions, and jagged points of difference.  These need to be worn down with use, like chips exchanged in a poker game.  The play goes on, and it will happen over time.  And then the next set of definitions will be broken down in their turn, and then the next.   



Friday, May 1, 2015

Spelling Truth

As I write this, the justices are debating marriage equality.  And my people have a hero.  People are buying T-shirts that say, “Ruth Badass Ginsburg”, “You can’t handle the Ruth!”, and “You can’t spell truth without Ruth!”

It feels strange, though, that nine people I don’t know are debating the validity of my most intimate relationship.  Of course, in many ways it won’t affect us.  Marisol and I will wake up in the morning, tie our sneakers, post our facebook updates, make a few bad puns – not necessarily in that order – and begin our days.  After twenty-nine years, we are who we are, and together is one of the things we are.

What marriage does, though, is allow us to take care of each other a little better.  Each law that bends in our direction gives us a little more protection.  And the older we get, the more we appreciate that.   

So I’m sending some of my psychic energy towards the Supremes, thinking about the outcome.  Whatever happens, we’ll still be married here in Maryland.  But if they decide in our favor, my community as a whole becomes stronger, and all over this country, people wake up in the morning, tie their shoes, eat their granola, and find themselves a little more equal to the people who live next door. 

May looks slower than volatile April, partly because the sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars all make hard aspects to Saturn this month.  Saturn is in Sagittarius, a sign of justice and freedom, and so it will be the quest for these things that slows everything down. 

The Supremes’ decision about gay marriage is just part of that.  As I write, the city of Baltimore is reacting to the news that six police officers have been charged with manslaughter or assault, in the death of Freddie Gray.  This is not yet justice, but it is an honest quest for justice.  It’s more than most victims of police brutality have received.  And while the trial goes on, passions will flare, but everyone will wait.  The structure will hold.    

While we wait, however, everyone will be talking and writing.  There will be an ongoing war of words, with Mercury, then Mars, and finally the sun in Gemini.  Gemini is the most verbal sign in the zodiac, so people will be writing fiercely, talking constantly, spreading the information that seems most relevant to them.  With all these ideas and opinions circulating, we will all be exposed more often to other viewpoints, and that may open up a little more space between different communities.

We all know we’re right.  We all believe in certain things.  But the planets in Gemini will help us go beyond that, and deal with the actual information at hand.  On a smaller scale, that’s what will be happening in the courtrooms of May. 

But there will be some strain, no doubt about it.  We see this too from the inconjunct aspect from Jupiter in Leo and Pluto in Capricorn.  This is the conflict between the hero and the plutocrat.  Pluto in Capricorn represents bureaucracy, and the weight of old tradition, which masquerades as destiny.  It’s powerful, but not omnipotent, and is indeed always changing at a deep level.

However, Jupiter in Leo is not Everyone, not the ordinary human on the street.  Leo is the sign of royalty, of authority.  So we are looking at people who are superstars, who are confident enough to spit in the eye of the dragons of tradition.   Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Or Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney.

Are we happy to have heroes?  Just check out my mug that says, “The Ruth is out there.” Of course, our heroes are often there because we chose them, one way or another.  Bill Clinton wasn’t perfect, but he’s the one who put Ruth on the bench.  And the people of Baltimore voted for Marilyn Mosby.   
Of course, on the right too, there are plenty of people looking for superstar status, as they jockey for the ultimate coronation.  And so we might see some tension between Republicans and the plutocratic power structure, as well.  They will need to differentiate themselves, to become champions of actual people.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out, and whether a dramatic presentation – an assumption of kingship -  will fool enough of the people enough of the time. 

And then we also have a Mercury retrograde during the last third of May.  It begins on May 18, but even now, in the beginning of the month, Mercury is already slowing down.  Because it’s retrograding in busy, verbal Gemini, this won’t stem all the talk and writing.  But it could mean endless circling, byzantine complications, and it might delay results. 

And lots of information from the past could start surfacing, especially as May comes to an end.  Of course, the past has a million faces, a million stories, and everybody can find those that illustrate their own point of view. 

Michelle Bachman is calling for the Rapture, any day now, and if it happens, she’ll be the hero, leading her little band of Christians into the stars.  Nobody would object to this fantasy if she wasn’t mean about it.  She keeps saying the end-times are the fault of us gay people, plus Obama of course.  What I don’t understand is - why isn’t she thanking us for our part?   

But we do live in confusing times.  Saturn in Sagittarius is trying work out what freedom and justice mean, but it’s going to take some doing.  The words have been juggled and batted around so often that it won’t be easy to hold them still and really look at them.      

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Electric April

I can hardly see the computer screen, because of the glare of the sun through the window.  But I don’t want to draw the curtain.  I need all this sunlight, to remind me that warmer weather lies ahead.  I need it, to set the crystals on my desk on fire and to cast rainbows on the wall behind me.  Sunlight is fuel, and for us here in the Northern Hemisphere, a little extra fuel can help a lot right now.   

One thing I’m grateful about, right at the moment, is that we’re coming to the end of the tense and combative Uranus/Pluto square.   This has been in orb – off and on, but mostly on – since June 2011.  It doesn’t officially end – given a 2° orb - until March of 2016, but the last exact aspect has just passed, and it will never be at peak strength again.  Now it just has to do some long, slow winding down.

But will it do it this month?  No, not really.  Even though it is generally becoming less powerful, it will be stimulated by the total lunar eclipse on April 4.  The sun will conjunct Uranus, and Pluto will square both the sun and moon, so many the issues of the Uranus/Pluto square will be revisited all month.  It’s as though we’re walking down a stormy road at night, and we have strokes of lightning to light our way.  We have to keep jumping out of the way, but we are also dazzled by sudden bolts of enlightenment.    

So what has this turbulent aspect brought us, through the last five years, and where are we now? 

Uranus, the planet of sudden new beginnings, is in the most hot-blooded and impulsive of signs, Aries, and so there’s been an increase in revolutionary acts, audacious rebellions, and military maneuvers.   Pluto in Capricorn holds an internal contradiction, since Pluto deals with deeper transformations and yet Capricorn is one of the most conservative signs in the zodiac.  So Pluto upholds Capricorn values, but at the same time, breaks them down in order to change them on a deeper level. 

How can you both uphold something and uproot it?  Actually, this is the way it always works.  Everything is changing – or you could say, evolving -  and when you give attention to something, you accelerate the process of change.  The deeper and more intrinsic the change, the longer it takes. 

Capricorn institutions are well-established, one might even say hoary.  Age gives respectability and authority.  There are structures in place which make those in power feel comfortable.  But everything breaks down in time, and all the Uranian threats to Capricorn institutions have accelerated that process. 

But as we can see, it hasn’t been just an either/or proposition, with the hot-heads on one side and the establishment on the other.  Sometimes it’s been that way. But we’ve also seen a hybrid spring up, with attributes both of Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn.  This is the conservative radical.   

Of course, this phenomenon is not new.  Ronald Reagan was one of the founding fathers of this approach.  But it’s really proliferated under the Uranus/Pluto square:  groups that claim a conservative mantel, an allegiance to tradition, and yet are intent on redrawing the contours of the world, with lots of blood and artillery. 

We see this in the Tea Party, which is rebelling against (mostly imagined) government oppression.  Since this is a democracy, albeit a very imperfect one, this rebellion has ended up in a number of Tea Party activists having positions in Congress.  That means if they do anything useful at all, they end up as the Government Oppressors, so they’ve been most forced to spend most of their time fuming, and trying to get rid of as many laws and regulations as possible. 

This has been pretty frustrating for them, and they could use more fresh air.  Hopefully they will be replaced soon, and they can spend their time practicing with their muskets, and telling tall tales of all the things they did in Congress.   

We also see this phenomenon in the Arab world.  Here we have people who have been fighting a battle over succession since the 7th century, and are still very wedded to the authority conveyed then.  Here in the US, it’s hard to imagine traditions that old, or a sense of rightness that runs that deep.  Taking those centuries of religious commitment, and driving them out into the world with bombs and guns, is the focus of several groups of conservative radicals.

In the end, you do have to follow the money, and the power is not in the past, but very much alive in the present.  But these traditions are not just a pageant, but a real cry for some vanished authenticity.  At the same time, there’s a violent rejection of the modern world, and this negation of present-day realities is what makes these conservative radicals dangerous to other human beings, not to mention the planet.    

They can’t go back, but they can go backwards.  We’ve seen it happen before.  There’s always a Renaissance eventually, but it’s really a drag to have centuries of torture, plagues, and a lack of indoor plumbing before it comes around again.

But would all these shock troops exist, if established power wasn’t so deeply threatened, if it wasn’t breaking down?  I don’t think so.  Of course, many of these conservative radicals are well-funded by those firmly in power.  But I would say that the establishment has never really had control of them, and that’s why there’s so much fighting going on these days.  As I write this, the wars in the Arab world are shifting, growing, developing new branches, as oil-rich governments move to claim their authority over smaller militias.   

Coming back to the U.S., the Uranus/Pluto square has also brought some radical action on the progressive side.  There’s the Black Lives Matter movement, which carries the fifty-year-old mantel of the Civil Rights Movement, and so a claim to history.  At the same time, it’s all about the need to make sure that the Movement doesn’t get calcified into a powerless monument, but rather is recognized as an unfinished work.

And then there was Occupy, which raised a lot of important class issues on a global level.  The class structure underpins everything else, and so it will take a lot of work to have any progress at all in this area.  But the Occupy people began by raising consciousness, and this is always the first step. 

On the other hand, we in the gay and lesbian community have won enormous ground during this Uranus/Pluto square.  As a lesbian, one of my biggest challenges now is getting used to using the word “wife” instead of “partner” or “lover” to describe the woman who’s been at my side for almost thirty years.  I personally feel a much stronger sense of social support than I did five years ago.

Looking at the current situation in Indiana, I’m actually heartened.  There was a time when there would’ve been no response to a law pitting right-wing Christians against gay people.  And now there are a lot of people, all over the spectrum, in our corner.  For once, the homophobes are on the defensive. 

So a lot has changed during this period, and some momentum has been established in various areas.  But there are still quite a few live wires out there, and we’ll have to be careful not to step on them during April.  And there are some parts of the world which will see even more explosions. 

The upcoming total lunar eclipse, which sets a tone for the next six months, is in Aries/Libra, the zodiacal axis that has to do with relationships.  So although everyone’s needs are strong and immediate, we all need to learn more about negotiating.  This is our work:  to find a balance between our own urgent changes, and the rights and needs of others.  As we do this, we give our own lives more meaning, and we learn, step by step, what it is to be peaceful.   It may still be a while coming, but just like the buds of spring, it’s on the horizon.