Friday, December 1, 2017

One Change Revisited, One Change Coming

Well, Jupiter in Scorpio is definitely doing its work.  Do you remember a couple of months ago when I wrote about deep personal and social traumas coming to light under this sign? 

And now, old wounds have opened for many women.  This happened to me too, although it’s been many, many years since I was the victim of a sexual assault.  But when I wrote “me too”, memories came pouring back, and I found myself depressed and angry.  As more and more women wrote those two little words, emotions built and swept over all of us.  We stopped seeing it as our personal Waterloo, and understood – not just intellectually, but emotionally – that it really had little to do with us as individuals.  

It was the way it was back then.  It was the backdrop, the wallpaper that nobody notices because it never changes.  All women dealt with this, mostly by becoming more suspicious and more self-protective.  We didn’t talk that much about it, because there was always some shame attached to these experiences.  After all, we were told over and over back then that if men did anything to us, it’s because we “let them”.  And so for men, there were rarely any consequences to this ubiquitous form of harassment and control. 

For men, rapists fulfill the same role that the KKK does.  Not all men are rapists, just like not all white people are in the KKK.  But the effect is that all women are terrorized, just like all Black people are.  It’s rare for any young woman to feel that she is safe in this world, and that her body is entirely her own. 

But currently, we are seeing some consequences, and I hope this trend continues.  Of course, the consequences are still meager in relation to the problem.  And I’m sure this is shocking to a lot of men, who are suddenly seeing a dramatic public shift in what’s acceptable and what isn’t.  They’re forced to see these situations through the eyes of women, and they don’t end up looking like such studs.    

But hey,  Jupiter went into Scorpio, and we’ll see a lot more of this kind of thing.  It’s only been two months, and Jupiter will be in this incisive water sign for the whole year.  This is the time to go down deep into our psyches, and work on cleaning up the toxins that we’ve been living with throughout our lives. 

And yes, I know there will be some backlash, but I welcome the conversations this engenders as well.  Some people will feel sex itself is being attacked, and they’ll write long blog entries to defend passion and urgency.  And this will inspire other people to write and talk about how it really works for them, and where to draw the lines in mutually respectful ways.  I expect the S/M community to have a lot to say about all of this, since they’ve been dealing with issues of consent and permission for years. 

One thing that’s shocked me, in all of this, was reading that men so often thought sexual contact was consensual, when their partners experienced it as unwelcome.  Why are so many men so bad at reading their partners?  That doesn’t say much for any of their sexual experiences.  But maybe this is the essential work:  that men have to recognize that women’s realities and experiences are as valid and important as their own.  And that’s the basis of equality, no matter what subset of humans you’re looking at.    

And now, this month, we have another big change, as Saturn also moves into another sign, after two and a half years in Sagittarius.  Right around the winter solstice, Saturn enters Capricorn, the sign it rules.  Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign:  pragmatic, ascetic, disciplined, formal, traditional, responsible, and goal-oriented.      

At the moment of the solstice, Saturn and the sun will be very close together in the first degree of Capricorn, and the first degree of a cardinal sign is especially powerful.  It’s a gateway for new energy.  As cardinal earth, this gateway is about a fundamentally different relationship with the planet, with material forms, and with practical tools for survival.  We will all be dealing with a lot more reality. 

And yes, I’ve predicted an economic downturn for Saturn’s time in Capricorn.  As I’m writing this, the Senate is debating the Tax Bill, and this would increase the division between rich and poor in this country.  It seems to me that all of us will be tightening our belts, while the public good is distributed more and more unevenly.  Communities will have to come together to figure out the resources for their most vulnerable members, while most of the country’s cash reserves are tied up on foreign islands, doing nothing useful for anyone. 

How could this work out in the best way possible?   We’ve seen in the “Me too” trend that ideas can break like waves over everyone, and change both perceptions and outcomes.  And so there are ways in which we can reassess what is valuable to us, and what isn’t.  And we may find that we can provide what we need for each other, and that it’s better than the shiny packages advertised on TV.  We may find that we can live comfortably in reality, solving the practical problems that come up, leaning on each other, and in the process, build a different kind of world.

And probably, it will go both ways.  There will be people in hardship, people still fighting the old fights, in prisons and army bases.  And there will be people who are able to build.  They’ll build something that looks poor and humble right now, but will someday be remembered as the gateway to a stronger, healthier, more equitable world.   



Thursday, November 2, 2017

From Zealotry to Austerity

I was in New York City a couple of days ago, when Sayfullo Saipov, a young Uzbek man, drove his truck into a group of random people, mostly Argentine bikers enjoying a school reunion.  In one of the world’s most international cities, he could have hit practically anyone. 

I wasn’t near the scene of the crime, but I could feel the mood of the city shift from the cool alertness typical of New Yorkers, to shock, and then to sadness, anger and determination.  I read it on the faces of people walking by, and especially those on bikes. 

I don’t have Saipov’s birthdata, but his age is given as 29, so he was probably born in 1988, when Saturn and Uranus were traveling together, mostly in the fire sign Sagittarius.  Saturn is the planet of respectability and structure, while Uranus is about change and rebellion, so it’s not an easy pairing. There’s a tension between the desire to establish oneself solidly in society, and the equal urge to break out and do things your own way. 

Sometime in the last year, Saipov had his Saturn return, that time when a person assesses his life, and tries to figure out if he’s on the right path.  At this point, he was looking for a larger meaning, and there were people there to convince him that his God would be pleased by some random bloodshed.  Human sacrifice has a long history, after all. 

Saturn is currently in Sagittarius -  a passionate fire sign, associated with religious and political zealotry.  It’s the expansive sign of gods and heroes.  It’s about action inspired by a greater faith.  When Saturn – the planet of responsibility -  is in Sagittarius, then to act heroically is considered a basic requirement, the price you pay for your ticket here on earth.  

Many brave people have had Saturn in this sign.  This includes some of the most dynamic freedom fighters of our times – Emma Goldman, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou, Paul Robeson, Eartha Kitt, Cesar Chavez, Mary Daly, Martina Navratilova, and Ellen Degeneres.  And Osama bin Laden was also born with Saturn in Sagittarius, and so was Yasser Arafat. So it doesn’t really say which side of which struggle you’re on.  Just that you believe in something greater, and are willing to throw yourself into the fight.    

Just nine days after Saturn entered this sign in 2015, more than two thousand people died during a stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  These were pilgrims, people who just wanted to fulfill a religious duty, and they didn’t intend to be the human sacrifices of the day.   But Saturn doesn’t give anything without charging heavily for it, although the price is not usually one’s life. 

During Saturn’s time in Sagittarius, we’ve had a great many terrorist attacks and suicide bombings.  They’ve happened at a peace rally in Ankara, an airport in Istanbul, a concert in Manchester, a street in Mogadishu, a gay nightclub in Orlando, a promenade in Nice, and throughout Paris – and many more in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. People have given up their lives for that burst of glory, and to us, it looks meaningless, because nobody was saved, nobody was rescued, nothing changed for the better.  But for the perpetrators, it was a last-minute lunge for a glory that they couldn’t find elsewhere. 

November is Saturn’s last month in Sagittarius, and then it will move on to the practical earth sign Capricorn.  Capricorn is the sign of the survivor.  It’s an ambitious, goal-oriented sign, so it’s purposeful -  but each step is measured, careful, and pragmatic.  It tends to be cynical, rather than hopeful.  There is no rushing ahead.  There are no frills, and nothing is wasted.  Old things are reused, and that includes old traditions and principles – and because of that, Capricorn tends to be formal, respectable, and well-established.

Does this mean that things won’t change as quickly while Saturn is in Capricorn?  They are more likely to reel backwards a bit.  For example, Saturn was in Capricorn when Carrie Nation started her crusade against alcohol.  She had the sun in Sagittarius, so she was personally very zealous, but her mission was essentially a negative one.  We can expect some backtracking to a more socially conservative time, although since Saturn will only be here two and a half years, I don’t think the gay community will lose too much of the progress we’ve made - hopefully. 

Saturn was also in Capricorn when the first Texas oil gusher was discovered, leading to a huge economic shift.  Oil, as the decomposed bodies of marine animals, is both very old and very useful, and so it’s connected to efficient Capricorn.  But Capricorn is also about building blocks, so perhaps alternate energy forms will become more practical, codified, and formalized while Saturn is here.  

Capricorn is business-oriented, and there are a lot of savvy people who recognize the potential of future-oriented businesses, and who will do well.  But there will also be even more people who cling to the businesses of the past, such as coal-mining, and I expect we’ll see quite a bit of suffering around that.  Profiteers will try to hang on to their profits, while workers try to hang on to their livelihoods, and both will go down slowly, like frogs boiling in a pot.     

Saturn was in Capricorn during the first years of Great Depression, 1929 to 1932.  Unemployment reached millions in the US and Europe, and in Germany, the Nazi Party took hold.  They promised both survival and a return to a glorious past, much like Trump’s message today.  But it was also during this time that Gandhi began to practice civil disobedience, the Vietnamese Communist Party was established, and the NAACP started its anti-lynching campaign.  So there were some that saw survival as a group effort, requiring structure and organization.  And these efforts, though very strenuously opposed, eventually bore fruit.       

I’m not a specialist in economics by any means, and it’s true that there isn’t a major overturn every time that Saturn enters Capricorn.  There have been times when the things hummed along economically, and the sign has just shown itself in a more conservative, conformist social atmosphere.  However, there is often a chilling contrast when a planet moves from rambunctious, enthusiastic Sagittarius into lean, hungry Capricorn.  In 2008, we saw the economy take a sudden hit when Pluto moved from Sagittarius to Capricorn. 

Capricorn is also a sign of wisdom, because it’s connected to age and experience.  The best manifestation of Saturn in Capricorn would be a populace who is no longer fooled by the falsities of the ruling class – such as “tax reform” that mainly benefits the rich.  And if things do get bad, the best manifestation would be a return to survival skills of the past, and to a simpler but more satisfying way of living.  We’ve already seen this trend under Pluto in Capricorn.   

And do I think Saturn in Capricorn will bring down Donald Trump?  Yes, probably.  It’s a humbling sign.  But do I think that will do a whole lot of good?  No, not really.  At least not immediately.  I think it will take another six or seven years before we have a truly progressive political agenda. 

And will the spate of suicidal zealots slow down while Saturn is in Capricorn?  Zealotry is more conducive to violence than despair, it’s true, but some people will still throw away their lives and the lives of random others.  In a world of deprivation, a world of climate change refugees, some people will die just to spare their families another mouth to feed.   

All we can do is stick together, and keep working out solutions to the many practical problems that are part of our existence here.  We can work for a world in which there are many ways to find meaning.  This means small steps, not big glorious gestures.  But Saturn in Capricorn is all about small steps.  Our mission is to survive, to learn from our elders, and to keep ourselves pointed towards the future.   

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A New Year: Jupiter Enters Scorpio

My wife and I have just come back from vacation, from drifting in the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  Now we’re back to our usual routines, starting a new work week.  And yet not quite.  There’s always an inner change after immersion in the sea.  As we drift, we loosen our bones, forget our worries, surrender everything to the rhythm of the waves.  It feels so necessary to do this once in a while. 

And now here we are, the same and yet different.  And the year is also about to go through a sea-change.  On October 10,  a new year begins, in astrological terms, as Jupiter enters its new sign.  For the next year – until early November 2018 – Jupiter will be in the water sign Scorpio. 

Scorpio is a water sign, but not a placid one, and so I’m not seeing a particularly mellow year ahead.  This is the sign of deep water, and it relates to the powerful currents that move us without our knowing:  memory, yearning, desire, resentment, hatred, ambition.  These things spring from unseen caves in our psyches, and run unimpeded, unrecognized.  Sometimes we feel the steam coming up from these underground caverns, but we generally close them off quickly.  There be monsters in those unexplored depths.

This is a year when some of those monsters will come to light, one way or another.  For some people, this will mean remembering traumas that they would just as soon forget, and undergoing the work of healing.  People will become aware of horrible things that have been done, as these jagged wounds are exposed to sunlight.  There will be clarity, acknowledgement, and perhaps even some level of forgiveness. 

Social traumas will also be revealed for all to see, and this is not a year when we can sweep all past atrocities under the rug and pretend that we’ve always been noble and heroic.  Nope. No healing can happen without truth-telling.  And so this will be a year in which some naked, ugly truths move through the community, and there will be plenty of people screaming foul, cringing, or refusing to believe.  And there will be others who have their realities vindicated, at last. 

For those who have had thorough early training in projecting our fears outward (like our current president), Jupiter in Scorpio will increase paranoia.   Scorpio is a sign of excesses, and some people will lose the battles with their demons.  There will be more murders and suicides than before, and this is a hard thing to write when mass murder has already become such a common thing in our world.  And yes, some of this will be a response to harder economic conditions.

But, in helping people open up to the truths within themselves, this Jupiter sign can also help people understand each other.  It’s not a particularly idealistic sign, but rather one that focuses on emotional truths and basic survival.  When you strip away pretenses, it all comes down to an acknowledgement of our shared vulnerability in this rocky world. 

Jupiter in Scorpio will also spawn its share of art.  Scorpio is an imaginative, creative sign, since all this emotional energy has to express itself somehow.  And so it may be a year of large, dynamic, explicit art work.  Sexual themes could be expressed quite overtly.  Of course, the public response to this will be mixed, and some people will feel justified in responding violently to artistic visions that they don’t share.  

There will also be a stronger interest in the occult, and this will probably include a real range of philosophies.  There will be more of us wiccans, focusing our energy on healing the earth, but also a spate of demonologists conjuring up more mischievous forms.  People will be looking for deeper sources of power, and won’t be afraid to go through the curtains that separate different realms of existence.  And so there will be more people haunted, mesmerized, transfixed by private ghosts, but there will be also more folks working with elemental earth energy.    

Other people will reject the noisy materialism of the world entirely, and move towards a state of Zen purity.  Scorpio is a sign of strong desires, and it can also manifest in the desire to completely renounce desire.  And on the other side of the spectrum, there will be more sexual openness, as people look into themselves, stumble over the body-hatred that poisoned so many of our ancestors, connect this to the poisoning of the earth, and find ways to cauterize these wounds.        

This Jupiter sign gives a relentless need to understand, so it’s good for all kinds of research.  There can be breakthroughs in medical research, biology, genealogy, chemistry, and atomic physics.  It’s a time when people become obsessed with solving mysteries.  And it’s also good for cleaning up cesspools in government, so we will probably see quite a bit of public corruption come to light.  Jupiter’s entrance into Scorpio might see Trump impeached, or it might not, but I have no doubt that a bunch of his henchmen will go down.   

The main contradiction in Scorpio is that it can be a quiet, reticent, self-controlled sign, and it can also be one of volcanic reactions and dramatic outbursts.  Self-knowledge is key to handling these intense energies.  It’s not a choice between repressing them or letting them explode like a grenade.  It’s about becoming familiar with the salty taste of your own tears, and the primal rhythms of your own happiness.      

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Visit to Winchester

I live near a city of great museums, but I recently drove in the other direction, to Winchester, Virginia, so I could visit the Museum of Veiled History.  It’s a small, unassuming storefront museum, run by an old community organizer.  Yes, he happens to be my brother, Larry Yates. 

Inside, a large room is divided, and tacked to all the wall dividers are photos and artifacts, each with a story attached.  There are photos of slavery’s atrocities – the instruments of torture, the auction block.  And there are also stories of lost heroes, like Robert Milroy, the abolitionist general who ran Winchester for a few months and helped thousands of formerly enslaved people move north before the Secessionists came back.  Of course, many heroes have remained nameless, such as the Black soldiers who risked everything to head back south and fight their former oppressors.   

After the war, there was a brief period in which Virginia moved towards parity.  There were fourteen African-Americans elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, almost all of whom had been born into slavery.  But there was also a constant struggle with the white upper class people who had run things before.  And then there was the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1902, which took the franchise away from all African Americans as well as most of the working-class white people.  Larry calls this a “coup” since it was never voted on, just proclaimed.  

And then, as Jim Crow became entrenched, there was Harry F. Byrd, Jr, who ran Virginia as his own personal fiefdom for almost forty years.  He was born in Winchester, but why are there no statues of him there?  Larry says he thinks it’s because the people there are now ashamed of their native son, who orchestrated a huge, expensive, and ultimately lost effort to maintain school segregation in Virginia.   

The idea of the museum is that knowing local history is empowering.  The stories you’re told are only half-stories, shadows of the truth, and so you have to look beneath the veil.  What would people rather that everybody forget?  And why?   

Nothing happens in a vacuum.  Every event is connected to the events that came before.  When we look at the devastation in Houston, after Hurricane Harvey, we see a history of covering up porous green spaces with cement.  And so where does the water go, when it doesn’t sink into the ground?  And then there’s climate change, a series of escalating disasters.  There have always been hurricanes, but now they’re fiercer, picking up more water, lingering longer. 

What stories are we telling ourselves?  Some are about human resilience in the face of disaster, and it’s important to acknowledge that.  But we also need to look back, to see the chain of cause and effect across time.    

Mars just entered Virgo, and this earth sign is the dominant influence in September, with the sun, Mercury and Venus all spending most or some of their time here.  Virgo is about figuring out the sensible, practical solutions to the many puzzles presented by our lives on this planet.  What do we eat and drink, where do we live, what do we use in our daily lives, and how do we manage each other?

The shadow side of Virgo is a tendency to seek control, especially when things are unstable.  And when aren’t things unstable?  This planet is incredibly mutable, with exploding mountains and sensitive weather systems.  And we humans are even more changeable, with our fidgety hands and our constant curiosity.  

Control is a way of trying to maintain the status quo, something that virtually never works.  If the status quo was perfect, if everyone was well fed and satisfied, maybe it would be possible for us all to live in a static society.  Maybe.  But our actual world is one of dizzying inequality, where some people are encouraged to gorge and others left to starve.  It’s a world in which everyone is urged to forget what happened yesterday, and remember only what we’ve been told to think. 

As long as people are hungry, sick, homeless, or oppressed, there is absolutely no possibility of long-term stability.  What we have is surface control, the slick plastic look that is meant to fool some of the people, some of the time.  It’s television stability, a representation of reality, not the real thing.  And of course, here in the US, we have a president who is an expert in television stability, who has spent all his life working on the illusion of control.

And so what should you do with the Virgo energy of September?  The best approach is to figure out what really works.  Althea Gibson (1927-2003), the first Black athlete to cross the color line in tennis, had the sun, Mars and Venus in Virgo.  She said, “Being champion is all well and good, but you can’t eat a crown.”  So this is the month to focus on what you can eat, what you can use, what needs to be built.    

This is the month that begins with Labor Day, and Virgo is the sign of workers.  One of the myths of our times is the superlative value of “job creators”,  people who hire other people to do things.  If these people have value, then those who actually do the jobs have many times more.  The true creators of wealth are those who get out of bed every morning and accomplish something real. 

And if you’re one of those people, if you contribute to the everyday lives of the people around you, raise a glass to yourself.  Your name may never be known, but you are creating the world we all live in.  History is made by all of us, day by day, moment by moment, as we figure out how to handle our human lives, on this constantly rolling planet.  Let us watch each other, see what works, and work together.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Falling Kings

August, a hot month in these parts, and getting hotter.  Two eclipses.  Mercury retrograde.  Astrologers going nuts predicting the fall of DT.  Will be or won’t he?  Will his Jupiter return protect him, or will Pluto’s square to his Jupiter topple him? 

I’ve already been predicting his downfall because of the stormy aspects at the new moon of July 23.  It looks like the Tower Card in the tarot, like a time when the mighty fall.  But perhaps that loud crash was the Republican dream of scuttling Obamacare.  And there have been a lot of big shifts since last week's new moon.  DT fired his only link to the mainstream political world, Reince Priebus.  And he hired Anthony Scaramucci, who seemed like a gangster straight out of central casting, and who was almost immediately fired again (while I was in the middle of writing this column).

But will DT himself fall?  I’m not as sure it will happen this month, mainly because Jupiter is handing out some helpful aspects to him throughout August, including the trine to his sun.  These are in the face of rough aspects from Saturn and Pluto.  But the Jupiter aspects do constitute a raincoat in the midst of a shitstorm.  They may give him just enough cover to survive. 

Saturn’s aspects – opposing his sun and conjuncting his moon -  look like they could affect his health.  Neurological and digestive problems seem likely, as well as difficulties with his extremities.  But if he has some kind of health crisis and comes through it, that could actually give him some sympathy points, at least briefly, and it could delay the inevitable toppling.

Putin is also having a tough time astrologically these days, and there are aspects that emphasize the link between him and DT.  They are both caught in a web of change, and it may develop slowly, but the ending will be abrupt.  

Putin’s influence over DT is not all that benign.  So far, DT has been well-paid for his role in Russian money laundering, but I’m thinking that ultimately all this might cost him more than he’s gained – not just in money, but in prestige, power, and reputation.  Putin’s Saturn (the planet of limitation) is exactly conjunct DT’s Jupiter (the planet of expansion). 

Looking at their charts together, plus current transiting planets, we see a T-square, a dynamic, stressful configuration, in which two opposing planets are squared by a third.  Pluto in Capricorn opposes Putin’s Uranus, and the squaring planets are Putin’s Saturn (restriction) on top of DT’s Jupiter (advancement).  The squaring planets are the catalyst planets;  they are the ones that act out the tension. 

So Putin acts it out by adding restrictions, such as the current demand that the US embassy lay off most of its personnel.  And DT acts it out by being as outrageous and over-the-top as he can possibly be, assuming that what people mainly want is entertainment.  It does look like the Vlad and Don Show will come crashing down sometime in the next six months, and that clutching each other might hasten the fall for both. 

The eclipses this month also give a message of dramatic change, and this also covers the next six months, until the next eclipses in January and February of 2018.  This lunar eclipse (on August 21) is right on DT’s ascendant, and the one on February 15 will be exactly opposite his ascendant.  So this looks to me as though DT has just been caught up in the hand of fate, and will be carried along by forces well beyond his control for the next six months.   

One possibility is that DT’s dementia will become impossible to ignore around that time, since that’s when Saturn in Capricorn will be forming a T-square with his Mercury and Neptune.  I wonder who will be brave enough to say it first?  After it comes out, everybody will be saying that they’ve known it for years, just like they did with Reagan.  And it’s true, some people have been writing about this for months, analyzing word usage, finding unmistakable clues.    

I wonder if people will miss the carnival clown that was DT.  I’m sure late night comedians will. 

Even if DT doesn’t fall all the way this month, August is still pretty stormy.  At the full moon of August 7, Mars is still very much in the picture, so people are pushier and more competitive.  They want to win, whatever the fight is.   

With this eclipse in Aquarius/Leo, there will be some pitched battles between the altruists and the hedonists.  Is it that the altruists really care about the state of the world, while the hedonists are completely self-centered?   Or are the altruists sanctimonious pricks who only want to lecture about how other people aren’t living right, while the hedonists have a healthy and natural self-regard? 

This also looks like the political divide in the US, with the tofu-eaters on one side (Aquarius) and the cooked-to-death-steak-with-ketchup contingent on the other (Leo).  Is there no middle ground? Isn’t there a possibility of finding something healthy and delicious?  But it’s a tricky opposition, especially because these are both fixed signs, and because there is so much ego involved.

One of the hardest things is to figure out how to intersect with your community (Aquarius) while still respecting the independence of others (Leo).  When do you correct?  When do you fight?  When do you take a stand?  With the south node currently in Aquarius, our weakness often lies in the belief that we know better than others.  But it doesn't work to make change from this perspective;  it's like trying to fight fire (Leo) with an air hose (Aquarius).     

The lunar eclipse is followed quickly by Mercury going retrograde on August 12.  When it retrogrades, Mercury will be opposing Neptune, and this makes things even more confusing for the first week.  It may be hard to figure out what people are saying, and what they really mean.   And watch out for accidents involving the intersection between earth and water.  Watch for floods, hurricanes, and bathtub slippage! 

And then there’s the final eclipse, the one everyone’s gathering for, the solar eclipse of August 21.   This one is exciting, with the sun and moon closely trine Uranus, and it ushers in a lunar cycle with a lot of positive changes.  Inventors, creative people, and political activists could all get a boost.  It happens in fire signs, so it’s driven by boldness, passion, and the desire to shine.  Mars is still in the picture, but not as close as during the July new moon, and so there aren’t as many revolutionary factors.  But an eclipse always shows change, and an eclipse in Leo can show crowns falling off the heads of kings.    

Everybody gets their turn in the limelight.  Everyone gets to strut and fret his hour on the stage. But I’m thinking it’s almost time for a long hook to come out of the wings and put an end to the latest act.     

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Patriotism.  What the heck is it?  Why do people care?

Is it something weird in my make-up?  I don’t like team sports all that much either, but there have been a couple of times in my life when I’ve gotten into the spirit of it, hollering and waving my arms.  It seemed harmless and unimportant.  Is it? 

I was patriotic when I was about ten years old.  I remember myself as a little girl in a British school in Bangkok, valiantly defending my country against an Australian girl who claimed that Americans were all a bunch of juvenile delinquents.  I really had no idea if it was true or not, but felt I should stick up for the country where I was born, the place that my parents always called home.   

At that time in my life, national identities were all just stuck onto us, like our names. They seemed a bit random, although obscurely important.  The school furthered a tribal spirit by dividing us all into three teams – the Vikings, Trojans and Spartans – and pitting us against each other in sports and theatre and singing competitions.  This was also pretty random. 

Now, fifty-five years later, I still don’t think it matters particularly what country you come from. I have to go through a lot of mental somersaults to conjure up a feeling that might be called patriotic. Of course, this is a lot harder during the Trump Years than it was during the Obama Years.   

But lately I’ve been reading Margaret MacMillan’s book about the tensions that led up to World War One, and there’s one truth that springs out from its pages:  Patriotism kills people.  In the last hundred years, hundreds of millions of people have died from an excess of patriotism.  It wasn’t always their own patriotism that killed them, either.  Often it was somebody else’s – a family member, a community, a voter, a politician. 

In the US, patriotism is linked with religion; it’s seen as a sacred duty.  It figures that our national birthday is celebrated in July, since this is the month with a Cancer theme. (The sun and Mars are currently in Cancer.)  Cancer is the most tribal and emotional of signs.  It’s a sign of attachment – mother to child, neighbor to neighbor, human to land.  It’s about what belongs to you, and what makes you feel that you belong. 

I get plenty attached.  Believe me, I am a master at attachment.  I can’t throw away a pair of shoes without feeling sad about it.  And I hardly ever throw out underwear; it’s way too intimate a relationship.  And I’m very attached to my home, without feeling any desire to own the house where we live.   When I think of the wider circles of my own life, I find attachment at every level. 

Attachment feels good.  It’s comfortable, satisfying, and safe.  But everything can be done to excess.  And excess attachment can cause people to go out and do all kinds of strange, unnatural things – like engaging in a fight to the death with a stranger, so that other people can redraw the borders of the country you live in.  How does that even make sense?  When some young kid thrusts a bayonet into some other young kid, and leaves him bleeding in some desolate field, why does that lead to a bunch of unsmiling older men in stiff uniforms passing around pieces of paper to sign? 

So, no.  On a personal level, excess attachment is called stalking.  And come to think of it, this country has been exercising surveillance techniques over its citizens for years.  Is that become the United States loves us so much that it just has to track our every movement?   It’s so attached that it can’t lose sight of us for a moment?   

There are other ways in which the US goes too far with its attachments.  Its attachment to stuff, for example.  There has to be a lot of it, and we have to make more all the time, even though we have no idea what to do with the enormous amount of waste we generate.  We even get anxious if the economy is not constantly growing. 

There’s an interesting contradiction in the US natal chart.  There’s a stellium – 4 planets – in the sign of attachment, Cancer.  But the moon is in the most freedom-loving sign, Aquarius.  So there’s a constant tension between the tribal instincts of Cancer and the more objective and enlightened ideas of Aquarius. 

We see this embodied in the work of the people who wrote those first documents, back in the day when this country was a fledgling enterprise.  There were some radical notions there – a division of powers, a separation of church and state, a process by which laws can be changed – and these things are still helpful today.

At the same time, those early citizens were pretty damn possessive.  They took possession of all sorts of things that the native people considered part of the public domain – mountains, rivers, forests.  Nothing was sacred, everything could be owned, and thus, defiled.  Even people could be owned, and so millions of human beings were stolen, shipped across the water, and completely controlled.  (Or at least, complete control was attempted.)  We can look back and see how sick this was, how unnatural from every viewpoint.   

But another word for excessive attachment is addiction.  We clutch at whatever makes us feel safe, even if we squeeze it so hard that we kill it.  And it happens over and over – until the earth shifts. 

This month, the Cancer planets are challenged by Pluto, the planet of power, as it moves through the earth sign Capricorn, the driest and most unemotional sign in the zodiac.  This echoes the only opposition in the US natal chart, a Cancer/Capricorn opposition involving Pluto.  Pluto gets at the deep stuff, the underlying fears, resentments, desires and angers.  It pushes towards transformation. 

In the history of the US, this manifests as a repeating cycle of addictions clashing with reality.  As an attachment becomes more and more obsessive, and sicker and sicker, there comes a time when it can no longer be supported by the population.  There are always some who resisted the hypnosis from the beginning, and these are the ones who rise up first.  The combination of an alternate vision and a clearly toxic attachment adds up to change.  But often there are those who hold on to the old ways with their fingernails, even as the earth shakes and swallows them. 

So yes, July will hold some changes that are in line with this evolutionary process.  It definitely won’t be over;  there’s still a long road to walk.  And let’s see what happens when the U.S. hits its Pluto return, about five years down the road.  My sense is that we’re learning something now which we'll need to know then.  Perhaps it’s about the Resistance.  Perhaps it’s about world diplomacy. Perhaps it’s some technology that will mitigate the effects of climate change.  Perhaps we will only be able to implement this technology if we can work together.   

Whatever happens then, and wherever we end up, there will be a lot to let go of.   Let go of fear first though.  There’s very little we’re attached to that we really need.  And the sooner patriotism is thrown overboard, the better.        

Friday, June 2, 2017

The Trump Trajectory

It’s a pretty spring day, full of birdsong - so clearly the birds haven’t heard about Trump’s backing out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg, Titanic reference intended, since throughout his presidency, he’s been hard at work hamstringing the EPA, rolling back regulations, and attacking the work of scientists. 

When I look at Trump’s chart today, I see that he’s on a roll.  Uranus in Aries is trining his rising Mars in Leo, the prizefighter part of his chart, and so he’s moving forward, boxing and shadow boxing, proving that he’s the dominant one.  No fears about the future, no namby-pamby worries about whether his grandchildren will survive.  The strong will survive, right? And the rest can wash out to sea with the crumbling coast-lines. 

When I look at Trump’s chart a month from now, I see a very different picture.  At the end of June, Saturn will be opposing his sun, and this indicates a crisis of confidence, or an external blow to the ego – and, as we all know, Trump’s ego is his most vulnerable part.  It could also be a time of physical illness or injury. 

And at the same time, this looks like a tumultuous time for his job, since Pluto in Capricorn makes a series of challenging aspects, beginning with the square to his Jupiter and the inconjunct to his Uranus.  After this, it makes an inconjunct to his sun and opposes his Saturn.  It looks to me like the gods that lifted him up are going to be laying him down flat.  There are some hard lessons between now and the end of his term – assuming he makes it that long. 

Expect things to change for Trump a few days after the coming summer solstice.  All during the lunar cycle that begins with the new moon of June 23, he’ll feel Saturn’s opposition to his sun, a weight on his ego.  Does this mean that the Russia investigation will yield some embarrassing fruit, perhaps involving his financial shenanigans?  Will Robert Mueller be the agent of some Trump undoing?  

It’s quite possible.  In the new moon chart, the sun, moon, Mercury and Mars are all in Cancer, within 11° of each other, and they all conjunct Robert Mueller’s Saturn.  Saturn is about wisdom, maturity, realism, and responsibility, and this puts Mueller in a position of having to do his duty and deal with something serious.  In addition, Mueller’s Saturn is right on top of Trump’s Mercury, indicating that he’s going to sift through all the Trumpian misinformation for the truth.      

And Mueller’s Saturn gets involved in Trump’s Mercury/Neptune square, which could be called Trump’s “liar aspect”.   This is not to say that everyone with a Mercury/Neptune square is a liar.  It gives a vivid imagination, and many people with this aspect are writers and artists, or people who have warm, fertile relationships with the unreal.  Neptune is also about spirituality and idealism, so people with this aspect often work hard to integrate these other ways of knowing and understanding. 

However, for Trump, I’d say he lives wholly in whatever self-serving delusion leaps into his mind.  And after the summer solstice, some of those delusions could be flayed open on the operating table, visible to everyone. 

Recently a reader asked me to compare Trump’s chart with Putin’s, to see if there were any clues there.   Putin also has a strong Mercury/Neptune aspect, a conjunction.  But the main difference between them is that Putin has a sun/Saturn conjunction.  He’s a realist, and when he shades the truth, or operates on a clandestine level, he knows what he’s doing. 

Many of the aspects between them are quite positive, so the buddy-buddy thing is visible.  They both have dominant, fiery Mars placements, and their Mars trine each other, so they can work together on mutual goals quite easily.  This could include waging war against a joint enemy, and both men know this as a sure way to fire up the base.   

Both have strong sun/Uranus contacts, so they both like to be unpredictable, independent and rebellious.  Both have largely airy charts, so they both live in a world of forms rather than practical realities.  Putin, with a sun/Saturn conjunction in Libra squaring Uranus, has a strong streak of cynicism, but he also believes he is mostly doing the right thing for his country.  But for both him and Trump, an excess of power and privilege have made it difficult to differentiate between personal preferences and universal good.  This is how power corrupts. 

Trump has no earthy planets in his chart, so he’s especially ungrounded, hence the obvious ADD.  Putin has one earthy planet – Jupiter in Taurus – so he is more materialistic.  For Trump, I would argue that, even though everything he does seems so mercenary, it’s all about ego.  He likes the show, the appearance, the glamor, but has little interest in sensual experiences, lasting security, or any of the other things money can buy.        

Putin’s sun conjuncts Trump’s Jupiter, and I think this refers to the role they’ve taken in making each other (and their friends) wealthy and successful.  In fact, Putin has four planets conjuncting Trump’s Jupiter, so I would say he’s used personal influence (the sun), information (Mercury), and subterfuge (Neptune) to boost Trump’s position in the world.  He also has Saturn conjunct Trump’s Jupiter, and this tends to have the opposite effect, and could mean that he restricts Trump’s success and prestige. 

So does this mean that ultimately the association with Putin will poke a pin into Trump’s bubble?  Could be. Another indication of this is Trump’s Jupiter squaring Putin’s Uranus – which relates to Putin’s unpredictability and eccentricity.  When Uranus is involved, things happen quickly and unexpectedly.  And this looks like it could also presage a sudden fall for Putin, eventually, since Uranus squares all four of his Libra planets.

And so am I predicting the beginning of the end for Trump?  To make things even ickier for him, Saturn will be conjuncting his moon between mid-July and the end of September 2017, and this could mean depression, illness, or an even more extreme drop in popularity.  Or it could mean a stab in the back from someone in his inner circle, like Jared Kushner.  Comparing their two charts, there are a lot of angry aspects, so they really don’t like each other all that much.  But Trump’s sun opposing Kushner’s Neptune shows that the latter fits smoothly into the former’s delusions. 

However, Trump has one more dose of good luck coming.  He’s got his faithful Jupiter return, making the last of three exact passes.  The first time was around the time of his electoral college win, and the second time in April, when the House Intelligence inquiry into his misdeeds was pretty much falling apart.  The third time will be between July 27 and August 11, so, even though this is a hard time for him in so many ways, there could be some sort of eleventh hour rescue that keeps him in office.

Trump has always been a plaything of fate, never more than when he pulled off the presidential election.  But this is the end of his lucky streak. 

In late September and through most of October, Saturn opposes his sun again, so even if he is able to maintain his position, it’s a low period for his ego and basic vitality.  In October, Jupiter moves into Scorpio, a sign known for exposing scandals and secrets.  By Christmas, when Uranus squares his Saturn, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of news stories about how the mighty have fallen. Trump sees himself as a master of deal-making, but his final test may be negotiating his way out of serious jail time. 

And what about the country?  In December 2017, Saturn moves into the spare, ascetic, realistic sign Capricorn.  When Pluto moved into Capricorn, we experienced the Recession of 2008, and the loss and anxiety caused by this continue today.  I expect this to be exacerbated during the two and a half years that Saturn is in Capricorn, especially as weather conditions become more extreme, and refugees more plentiful.  This will color our next election here in the US, but it’s hard to know how people will vote when they’re coming from a place of fear and scarcity.   

We know that nature will eventually recover from whatever humans throw at her, but will humans survive?  There is some hope for us, since Saturn will be moving into Aquarius in 2020, and Pluto into Aquarius in 2023.  Pluto will spend the next couple of decades in this sign, and it will bring both new technology – perhaps at the eleventh hour, before humans perish – and a stronger drive towards personal liberation.  So that’s the light at the end of the tunnel.  As always, though, the tunnel comes first. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Oneness, Manyness

“What is up with that bird?” I’m wondering, as I listen to a long, drawn-out chittering.  This isn’t birdsong.  It doesn’t sound like a celebration of spring, or an advertisement for love.  It sounds more like an urgent telegraph.  Maybe it’s calling its mate to hurry home because there’s a squirrel inching closer to the nest. 

It’s a cool day, with a light wind blowing, and it’s reached that blessed spot – not too cold any more, not too hot yet - where I can actually keep my office window open.  So all through the day, I hear half-understood messages from all kinds of passersby.  I can guess at interpretations, but I can never really know.   

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be traveling.  I’ll be one of those voices on the wind, flitting from one place to another, as I head south, visiting friends along the way, until I reach Womonwrites.  I’ll spend a week at the lesbian writers’ conference -  visiting friends, picking up inspiration, giving a workshop, doing readings for people, and of course, playing a little Scrabble! 

There’s a lot to do before then, I know it, but I’m having a hard time getting my act together these days. Yes, it’s partly because Mercury has been retrograde the last three weeks, and is just about to turn direct again tomorrow  (on May 3, 12:33 pm EDST).  When Mercury changes direction, it’s always very slow for a week or so.  This gives us time to think about what’s next, hopefully, before the pace quickens.   

But it’s more than that.  It’s the inconjunct between Jupiter and Neptune, which will be with us all through May.  All Neptune aspects invite contemplation.  They take you away from business as usual.  Nothing routine seems all that compelling.  They invite you to back up, to take the long view, to see everything with a cosmic perspective.  Neptune dissolves the barriers.

If I want a Neptunian view from my window, I blur my focus, and all I see is a mash-up of bright green.  It’s lovely.  When I hear a bird sounding an alarm, it blends into the overall music -  the songs of other birds, the buzz of insects, the whistle of a faraway train.  It’s all one.  That’s Neptune’s message, especially as it moves through its home sign, Pisces.   

Neptune is the planet of spirituality in its purest form.  This is not about laws, not about dogma, not even about ethics.  It’s impossible to treat anyone wrong if you understand that you are that person, and that person is you.  We all come from this state of beautiful oneness, and there’s a part of us that always yearns for it. 

In my old coven, we used to sing this song:

We all come from the Goddess, and to her we shall return,
Like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean. 
Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn. 
Corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again. 

And yet, and yet.  When this lovely oneness broke into parts, when this world of variations happened, it happened for a reason, no?  We incarnated with stories, phobias, wisdom, and attractions already in place, ready to stitch together our own little piece of the quilt.  If it was whole to start with, what are we making?

For me, this is the central paradox of any spiritual viewpoint.  I do believe we are making it as we go.  I believe we are creating with every dream and thought and movement, calling into being something that never existed before.  And so my sense is that this wholeness is not a static thing, even though I understand the contradiction.  It’s whole, yet it becomes. 

So don’t be surprised this month if you find yourself standing for a long time at a tree, gazing up, and seeing nothing but green light.  Don’t be surprised if you’re in the middle of washing dishes, and you stop what you’re doing because you’re amazed by water.  Don’t be surprised if time changes shape, even more than usual, and long afternoons last a hundred years, while short nights are over in a blink. 

And what is Jupiter doing in this Neptune/Jupiter inconjunct?  Jupiter is the planet of expansion, and whenever it’s in aspect with any planet, it eggs the other one on.  So the diffuse and holistic awareness of Neptune is exaggerated, publicized, trumpeted by Jupiter.  Sometimes this is a good thing, as in the Climate March this week.  Jupiter is good at writing placards, making speeches.  And it’s now going through Libra, so it also inclines to legal strategies. 

But although Neptune is the planet of saintliness, of enlightenment, of all-encompassing spiritual awareness, it’s also the planet of illusion and delusion.   And so Jupiter can exaggerate this confusion too, while this Jupiter/Neptune inconjunct is going on.  Conspiracy theorists, for example, have a bigger and more holistic world view.  They see all the ways that the little threads come together.  But are they contributing to spiritual principles like peace and universal love?  What’s left out of this bigger world view?  What remains unseen? 

And none of us can see it all.  We are humans, possessed of a very useful focused vision which helps us find edible berries and avoid mastodons.  We aren’t supposed to ignore the physical messages around us, and just spend our time just contemplating eternity.  We’ll be back there before we know it;  it won’t be long. 

This Jupiter/Neptune inconjunct is seductive, encouraging us to take the little we know and run with it.  And sometimes you have to do it, you have to have faith in the visions that entice you, the ones that make your heart sing.  But I see it as a slow process, and a process that all beings have to do at approximately the same time.  It takes time to grow, to see more than just the fields and woods that surround us, and yet to still see them clearly.