Friday, August 30, 2019


I am not always fond of reality, and yet one of the first things I do every morning is read the news on my phone.  This is an abrupt switch from hugging my pillow and dreaming of beaches.      

This morning, I was reading about Ajay Kumar, a victim of torture by the US government.  He asked for asylum here because he was subjected to political persecution in India, and the response has been to lock him up in ICE detention for almost a year.  When he (and others) went on a hunger strike to protest these conditions, he was force-fed. 

Force-feeding has no relation to nutrition or sustenance at all, and in fact it’s the antithesis of nurturing.  It’s brutal and painful, and it’s a stripping away of the last vestige of bodily agency.  It’s almost always used to silence political prisoners who are trying to make a statement.  It was used a hundred years ago – in Britain, to persecute suffragettes, and in the US, to torture a woman whose crime was distributing birth control to other women.  It’s been used in Guantanamo, and probably still is.

I’m writing this at the tail-end of August, on the first day of a new lunar cycle.  This morning’s new moon was very concentrated, with the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars all together, all within 9° in Virgo.  It’s as if the sun and moon have surrounded themselves with all their helpers – the Messenger, the Diplomat, the Warrior – and they are gathered together to craft a statement to the world.  In addition, they have a great trine going with Saturn and Uranus, representing the Old Guard and the New Wave.  So they are fortified, definite, clear. 

And what is this message?  I would say it’s about getting ourselves together, getting healthy, and tossing out the old power imbalances, before it’s too late.  These power imbalances are the toxins in the world we live in. 

Virgo is the sign of health, work, analysis and discrimination.  Discrimination doesn’t mean arbitrary judgments against people, but rather a considered investigation into what makes sense and what doesn’t, in terms of one’s recognized objective.  If the objective is to survive as a species on this planet, then there are things that waste our time and effort, and other things that yield the preferred results.  This may sound cold, but Virgo is a practical sign, and practical people are survivors.       

Maybe power imbalances benefited the species once upon a time.  There’s a whole “survival of the fittest” argument, although this leaves out the fact that cooperative efforts have added easily as much to human development as individual ingenuity or bravery.  Most individual acts of heroism take place in a family, community, or some other support system.  Support systems work, raising people just a little higher than they can manage on their own.  And they are natural to people.  We are really more like bees than wolves. 

But we have these toxins, these pockets of corruption and cruelty.  Imagine a hive with a whole wing full of non-worker bees who spend their time harassing and abusing the ones who work, and torturing any bees who object.  This is what our society is like these days, and it’s not favorable for our survival.

As I write this, there’s a storm approaching the US coast, a storm called Damian.  My friends in Florida are worried about what the next few days will bring, and so am I. 

There’s something of a cleansing effect about this Virgo new moon, but it will take more than a few storms to clear the toxins out of our society.  It may take a level of desperation that we haven’t seen yet, before we say, “No more!”  When will we be ready?  It will be hard work, but this new moon shows an advantageous time to begin a new phase.  Now is the time to flush out the toxins and create a healthy world community.   

It won’t happen overnight, because these toxins are buried deep inside all the structures we’ve built.  But if we are going to hang on to our niche on this planet, it has to be done.  We have to learn how to nurture ourselves and each other, as well as the eco-systems that support us.  We have to learn how to get rid of the poison.   

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fire Month

I’m writing this on the first day of August, just after the new moon in Leo.  There are four planets in the fire sign Leo, and I can feel their confidence and vivacity, like a troupe of acrobats waiting in the wings.  Mercury just went direct, and is moving towards Leo as well.  Things are beginning. 

I’m just getting over a cold, and my own energy is a bit soggy.  July was an emotional month, ranging from great warmth to cold fear, and I feel like a rag doll that’s been soaked in salt water.  So I’m looking forward to a solar month - one that will dry my bones, get my blood moving, invite action.  Leo is a sign of games, risk, romance, theatre, laughter, excitement.

Adding to the fire in August, Jupiter is in Sagittarius, and from here it makes supportive trines to Mercury, Venus and the sun, as they move through Leo.  And so there will be some luck.  There will be times when the sun shines on people’s projects and endeavors, when the fates are generous.  There will be opportunities to expand.    

There are also three planets in earth signs – Saturn, Uranus and Pluto – making tense aspects to Leo planets this month.  On the one side, earth is practical, cautious and slow-moving, while on the other side, fire is excitable, spontaneous and heroic.  Earth always wants to contain or be contained, while fire resists containment, sometimes leaping over barriers.      

Fire is passion, and it’s urgent and immediate.  It can destroy whatever is in its path, because it’s focused on its own essential power.  Yet in billions of years, rolling over its surface, fire has given the earth innumerable new beginnings.  It clears out the old deadwood, giving more space, more light and air.  

Sometimes the fire is figurative, and sometimes it’s literal.  It is the hottest month, and every year we reach a new record heat, so fires are more severe everywhere.  Right now, satellites look down on thick blankets of smoke covering Greenland, Alaska and Siberia. Even the Arctic is burning, for the first time ever.

And the fires go deep, releasing things that have been buried in the soil for a long time.  As they go through Leo, the sun, Venus, Mars and Mercury will all make tense aspects to Pluto, which deals with hidden power dynamics.  Pluto represents one’s inner demons, the ones that you normally ignore or banish.  People spend a lot of energy keeping these inner passions, fears, resentments and desires tucked neatly away, but all it takes is a challenge, an altercation, and they are released into the atmosphere. 

Old crimes are buried, because everyone wants to feel innocent, and to avoid thinking about the ways we’ve wronged each other.  Everyone has old guilt, whether conscious or not.  Instead of owning it, many people project it onto others, finding convenient scapegoats everywhere.  Racism, sexism, and xenophobia are projections of people’s inner demons.  And because these things are enshrined in old custom and established structures, it can seem safe for people (like Trump and his admirers) to enact them. 

However, old customs and established structures are the very things that are wiped away, when the fires begin to burn.  We are already seeing some dramatic power shifts, and we will see more.  This doesn’t mean that everything will change in August.  But old toxins will be exposed, and some old hiding places will disappear. 

The planets in Leo will also have tense aspects to Uranus in the coming month, and Uranus is the planet of change and innovation.  It gives everyone a glimpse of what is odd and different, and what would happen if you looked at everything slantwise.  Though these aspects to Uranus are destabilizing, they are also full of exciting creative potential.

So in August, there’s a place for guerrilla theatre, for ridicule of the rich and pompous.  Pride often goes before a pratfall.  This is a good way to take down those who believe they deserve to be in charge.  And to the extent we can laugh at ourselves, it will be a healthy month.  

Uranus is also connected to the scientific and technological communities, and there will be plenty of challenges there.  How will the Fire People fare against the Robot Horde?  It’s a sci-fi melodrama, but it’s also an archetypal dilemma.  From the old stories about our stealing fire, we know how precious it is.  What is the human spirit worth, in this age of mechanization?  How can we keep the spark of humanity glowing, in a world of concrete slabs and silent robots?  This is a struggle for our very survival as a species.   

And the Leo planets also have tense aspects to Saturn, the planet of gloom and limitation.  Saturn can give a sense of being stuck in old patterns which are relentless, unchanging, hopeless.  Sometimes we all feel that we’re trudging along in the long shadow of history, seeing variations on the same cruelty and oppression play out around us.  We fight the Nazis, and sixty years later, the US president sucks up to them.  Where does it end? 

But in fact, the generally slow pace of history makes it very hard for any of us to see change.  It’s like living with a kid.  One day they’re an adult, and you have no clue how that happened.  But there is movement, glacial though it seems at times. 

Our restlessness, our discomfort, our fears and anxieties – those in themselves are signs that our times are changing.  If everything was really always the same, we would be used to it, wouldn’t we?  But nobody is used to the world as it is today.  No, we feel these prickly changes around us all the time, and we don’t know how to interpret them, or where they’re taking us, and so we take a stance, trying to maintain control over at least our own philosophical constructions.  But the stance itself requires constant maintenance, and can become a prison.

Fire is never stagnant.  It moves, and it moves inside you.  Find your own source of life, and light, and joy, and creative passion.  Move with it.