Friday, December 31, 2021



It’s the last day of the year 2021, and I’m looking out the window on a grey, rainy day. My wife and I have been celebrating the holidays here with our usual eclectic traditions, accompanied by her brother, our nephew, and a good friend. We’ve feasted, we’ve laughed and made really bad puns, we’ve hung out and talked to each other, we’ve argued about the end of the world, and we’ve sung a wide assortment of Venezuelan and Unitedstatesian Christmas carols, harmonizing along with loved ones in different cities, as they peer out of little zoom windows.    


We had theatre tickets, but the play was cancelled due to Covid. I feel hermetically sealed, but my brother-in-law regularly dons his mask and braves the outside world, buying brackets and bulbs and all sorts of useful little doowatchits. Whenever he visits us, he fixes things, and this year it seems to be mostly about adding more light to our world.  It’s very welcome.


January is a practical month, a good month for repairing, structuring, formalizing, organizing. I know that that covers a great many of our New Year’s resolutions!  There are four planets in Capricorn when the month begins, and four again when it ends, so we can all access the pragmatic, systematic, self-controlled energy of this sign.  Can I say that this would be a good month to Build Back Better?  My sense is that the bill will be taken apart, and some parts of it will be passed. It’s not the optimum, but we take what we can. All these Capricorn planets indicate slow but durable progress, and I’ll go with that.


In 2021, much of the conflict came from the radical right, as they struggled to recapture and solidify an outmoded power structure. Of course, this will still be going on in 2022, since power is never given up easily. But I believe that there will be a loss of foot-soldiers on the conservative side.  People battling a deadly virus, or watching their loved ones fall, don’t really have a lot of time for rallies. And the right wing is weakened by Trump’s continuous whining and obsessions, and his in-fighting with other conservatives.


At the same time, people need community, and the Trump cult has given them that, strange as it seems to those of us who find community in other ways. Cults exist because people want a sense of belonging. This isn’t going to go away anytime soon, not in our current robotically capitalist system. As long as we treat people like dispensable cogs in a wheel, they will find ways to rebel, and they’ll look for comrades. The choice of enemy at that point is almost random. Racism has a long tradition in the US, so it’s the time-tested way to designate scapegoats. It makes people feel secure when they hate the same people their parents and grandparents hated.  And so Trump hung his hat on the White Man peg, as so many others have done before him.


But as the demographic changes in the US, and as new ideas germinate, this stance seems not just cruel but calcified. Saturn now in Aquarius encourages people to wake up and think, rather than reacting automatically.  And in 2022, there are fewer indications of struggle than in 2021. This doesn’t mean everything will be peaceful, especially since the Saturn/Uranus square will be strong again in the fall. But some battle-weariness could fall over everyone, especially those on the right who are trying so hard to go backwards.


One thing that’s changed in 2022 is that Jupiter has entered a new sign, Pisces, although it will only be here through the first half of May.  Still, Jupiter is much gentler and more aware in Pisces. It’s a sign of imagination, fantasy, compassion, and emotional sensitivity. In January, these Piscean tendencies are not as noticeable, with the more realistic Capricorn influence predominating.  We’ll notice it most in March, when the sun and Mercury join Jupiter.  


Pisces is a very spiritual sign, so I expect that more people will be meditating, praying, looking for signs and portents, and going in for bouts of religious fervor. There’s a strong overlap between religion and the capacity for fantasy, so it may be that new gods and goddesses will be created. Probably some of them will be ordinary human beings. One of the dangers of Jupiter in Pisces is that the public are more easily manipulated, because of the longing to believe, to trust, and to belong. Some folks could make use of these natural human longings, raising them to a fever pitch. We will all need to share and spread a kinder understanding of cosmic unity, involving mutual care and acceptance.


The best thing about Jupiter in Pisces is that there’s a great deal of creative energy here. Jupiter here enlarges our capacity to dream, to send our thoughts out into a realm in which all things are possible. When we return from this place, we can bring home wonderful images, feelings, and inspirations. Yes, there will probably be more outlandish conspiracy theories. But there will also be openings, new ways of perceiving our fellow human beings as well as the other creatures on this planet.  This can be what unites us, what brings us together, on a very deep level.  On this level, there is peace.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Venus and Pluto


Last night, my wife and I went to get our booster shots. When we went into the community college building where the shots were given, Venus was bright in the western sky.  And yet I knew she had an invisible companion, Pluto.  


Inside the building, it was clean, plain and orderly. It was staffed mostly by young women, and we were directed efficiently towards a table and poked with syringes. Then we had to wait fifteen minutes on folding chairs, to make sure there were no side effects, and then we were out in the parking lot again. Venus had set by this time. We congratulated each other on having done it, and drove home past houses decorated with lights. People are celebrating Christmas, Hannukah, and the solstice.     


Venus is the evening star these days, a brilliant beacon every night after sunset. She lingers because she’s about to turn retrograde - on December 19, at 5:35 am EST. She’ll be in apparent backwards motion until late in January. Venus’ retrograde motion tends to freeze new romantic possibilities, and sometimes take us back to old lovers, old pleasures, and old stories. We have to recover some forgotten happiness. And through almost all of December, Venus will be closely conjunct Pluto, planet of power and transformation.  


Venus is the planet of love, beauty, and pleasure, and her role is to brighten people’s lives. She gives us the respite of laughter. In this world of surprising beauty, she’s generous with all her gifts, and everywhere we turn, we find people longing for love. In natal charts, her work is to keep you happy, to help you find sources of joy and fulfillment, so that you can deal more easily with the more demanding parts of your life.


Archetypically, Venus is the Maiden, the sprightly young woman who dances through her days, flower-bedecked and free. Yes, it’s true, Venus is on the femme side! And of course, young men can express themselves through this archetype as well, if they’re more into being lovers than fighters.  And Venus is still part of your chart when you grow old, so there are always ways to enjoy life, to revel in the light and color around us, to giggle uncontrollably, to flirt, to fall in love.


But yes, it’s young women who mainly carry the Venus archetype. Those young women giving the booster shots were pretty focused, and that makes sense, since Venus is currently in the practical earth sign Capricorn. Young women are taking themselves seriously these days, thinking about their futures, taking on weighty roles in the community.


And even though Venus is the planet of pleasure, being a young woman is often very tricky in our society. They are constantly rated according to social standards of beauty, and all but a few find themselves lacking. They are considered the epitome of innocence, and yet continually sexualized. This is the time of life when women learn what they can’t do:  walk alone at night, walk alone in any deserted place even in the day, trust strange men, leave a drink unattended, smile too little or too much. Suddenly, they face dangers that they never faced before.    


Pluto’s archetype is the Stranger, the part of everyone that’s kept hidden, repressed, denied. You can imagine Pluto in a deep hooded cloak, coming out of the shadows and taking Venus’ hand. Just in writing this, I shiver, and reach for a shawl to drape around my shoulders. Is this a side effect of the booster?  No, I think it’s a side effect of the things I’ve been reading lately about the Supreme Court, the testimony given, the questions and comments from the justices, and the threat of women losing abortion rights. I know this won’t be decided till the spring, but we remember why these justices were put forward in the first place.


And so young women will have to give up one more major life choice. If they are brave or independent or foolish enough to walk in the dark, if they get attacked, they’ll now have one less option in handling a pregnancy that might result. If they are careless and exuberant, and follow an impulse to make love with someone, they’ll now have to live with the results of that for the rest of their lives.


Pluto is currently close to the end of its sign, Capricorn, and in many ways, we’ve seen the world become more conservative, more authoritarian, and more racist and sexist. It’s true that we had our first Black president, but the backlash to that was immediate and severe. The right wing worked on its ability to block progress, to promote lies and conspiracies, and (mostly) to maintain all economic power in a small group. At this point, thanks to gerrymandering and the Electoral College, we have minority rule in this country, and the current Supreme Court is the most obvious example of that.


Pluto leaves Capricorn for good early in 2024, and enters Aquarius, and that’s when I see this trend changing, and a more egalitarian and progressive society coming into being. It will take a big collective push to move things in that direction, and we’ll be dealing with global warming (and a deluge of climate refugees) at that point. But I’m hopeful.  And I don’t think the next two years, with Pluto still in Capricorn, will be wasted either. The pandemic dismantled and simplified some systems, and they may be replaced by something that works better and makes more sense. I’m already seeing that happen in some places.


In December, we also see the third and last pass of the Saturn/Uranus square, an aspect which has brought a lot of outrage and rebellion into the public discourse, all through 2021.  Mostly, reason has prevailed, and more people have been vaccinated than not. But there’s been constant pushback, much of which has seemed irrational. Weird conspiracy theories have proliferated, and these may become even more evident when Jupiter enters the mystical sign Pisces at the end of December. People are going to believe what they want to believe. And everybody else wants to laugh at them, which is why the media is always spotlighting the latest crackpot theory.


While all that is going on, we need to look in the shadows, and see what Pluto is doing to Venus. The goddess of love and beauty has enough stumbling blocks in this world, without the Stranger coming after her. And yet, haven’t we seen this scenario before, in ancient mythology?  Who was left to cry when Persephone was abducted? Maybe this time, Demeter’s tears will be longer than just a winter, but will disrupt the crops for decades to come. They could even signal the end of human life. Maybe this time, when young women lose their power, we all need to rise up and shout.    









Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Here, Now, Gone



I’m writing this on All Soul’s Day, the day when we all connect with our beloved dead. For me, at this time in my life, there are many. I’ve lost three dear people since last All Soul’s Day, two of them from Covid. I think of them often, with love, sorrow, and respect.


It’s the strangest thing when someone dies, because it’s as though a light is suddenly turned off in a room. The room was once filled with light and energy, a place where you sat and chatted with that person, where you ate and drank and made jokes. And then suddenly the light goes out. They still exist in the spirit, in our imagination, in our memories, and, on some level, it doesn’t feel like they’re really gone. But the room is dark.  


November is the month when people are most aware of the veil between the living and the dead, and we look for shadows in empty rooms. Nature itself keeps this constant awareness of mortality in front of our eyes, as the trees around us move through a range of sunset colors and then drop their leaves. Everything seems more intense, because we’re aware that it’s all finite.


Scorpio is traditionally the sign of death, as well as of transformation, and one of its symbols is the phoenix which rises from the ashes. Its opposite in the zodiac, Taurus, is a sign of stability, practicality, construction, and comfort. With the sun, Mercury and Mars all going through Scorpio this month, and Uranus moving through Taurus, there is a lot of tension between change and stasis, especially at the new and full moons.  


There’s always a tension between these poles, but it’s heightened these days. Uranus is the planet of change, but fixed, earthy Taurus is the sign most resistant to change. And so we are all passing through a time in which change is demanded of us – by the earth, no less – and in which there is an enormous resistance to it.


As I write this, the big climate change conference in Glasgow is ending, with most heads of state vowing to work harder to cut back on the rate of climate change, and to maintain a survivable habitat for us humans. Will they be able to maintain that stance when they’re surrounded by all the usual political yammering? Will the faceless millions fade back into obscurity?  


The status quo has enormous weight, solidity, and resistance, and it can feel impossible to fight it. And there are good reasons for that, since, after all, everything happens in the here and now. The present moment is the locus for feeling, for action, for belief, for meaning. Every moment has the feel of immortality, since all the moments of the past have contributed to creating it.


And yes, it’s true that the present moment is the only thing that’s real, and that everything around us – every person, every object, every trick of the light – has ownership of this moment. The gift of each moment is its essential truth and beauty, as mystics and sages remind us.   


And yet there is nothing more permeable than the status quo. Things are always happening suddenly. By the time we become aware of our awareness, it’s shifted. Circuits break, lightning strikes, a heart stops beating. The status quo is ruler of all it surveys one minute, and the next minute, its kingdoms have dissolved into dust.  


We’re lucky when the changes happen slowly enough to prepare for them. But those are also the changes that can be ignored, to our peril. Would people be talking seriously about climate change now if wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and droughts hadn’t been disrupting our lives so frequently? Perhaps these shocking events act as a guidance system, inexorably steering us towards necessary action? And of course, I’m not just talking about recycling, I’m talking about wholesale changes in our economic system. I’m talking about assigning value to what’s good for humans as a whole, rather than what stimulates the game called finance.  


With the upcoming new moon, on November 4, this Taurus/Scorpio tension will be especially noticeable, as the sun and moon are exactly opposed to Uranus. A new moon is generally a good time to set intentions for the next month, but it may be hard to make plans during such an unpredictable period.  And at the Taurus/Scorpio full moon with its eclipse, on November 19, these two signs will be even more evenly ranged against each other, each demanding loyalty to its particular way of looking at the world.


However, there’s enormous power in both these signs, Taurus and Scorpio. Taurus has the power of the status quo, and that means everything that has been built and has endured. It has the power of habit, of pragmatism, of tribal allegiances, and of a sturdy connection to the earth. It has the power of roots going deep into the ground. And Scorpio has power too, coming from the relentless transformative energy of life. Because it isn’t firmly grounded, it can move with whatever force comes its way. And because it’s the sign of death, it’s also the sign of immortality.


So this new moon could be a time to seize your power, to find great underlying strength – either in your rootedness, or your ability to transform, or your willingness to shift from one to the other. We are all moving on to the next thing. There’s no stopping this process. We can be rooted in our essential selves, and at the same time, willing to change. And when we don’t know how or when the changes will come, we can be open to the mystery.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Fresh Air


Today, the first day of October, is one of those perfect days. Lately we’ve been bouncing between heat and AC, but sometimes we just get to open the windows and feel the breeze. As this intoxicating fresh air pours into the room where I’m working, it wakes me up and fills my head with ideas.   


Air is the medium in which things move most freely and quickly. In astrology, the air signs are connected to our mental functioning. I’ve always believed that thoughts are as real as bits of pollen, and that they fly through the air, looking for like thoughts and building new inspirations as they go.


And this is a very airy month, so there are tons of ideas floating around, waiting to be captured, ready to expand into amazing possibilities. Mercury spends the whole month in the air sign Libra, first going backwards and then (after October 18) forwards again. She touches other planets along her path, and since Libra is a very social sign, it’s almost as if she’s paying visits to old friends.


Mercury meets the moon when she’s new, on October 6.  The new moon is always a good time to set intentions, and it’s as if Mercury is there to make sure that nothing is left out of these lists. Retrograde Mercury harkens back to the past, and so she reminds the moon of the things that have been overlooked, forgotten, unfinished.  


Then Mercury continues on her backwards path, connecting with Mars and the sun. For a few days, around October 9, the three are together like long-lost friends. They represent mind, body, and ego, all aligned in Libra, the sign of harmony.  Mars’ job is to turn all of Mercury’s ideas into definite action, and the sun is about vision and inspiration.


This trio is like a neon sign flashing the Libran message, and the basic Libran message is to treat others as you would like to be treated by them. This doesn’t just show up in every religious text, but is the basis of every law and every civil agreement.  


Libra is a sign of harmony, but also a sign of justice and accountability, and as we know, accountability doesn’t make everyone feel peaceful. Especially in the US at this time, there are some bitter divisions between people, and it’s pretty rare that everybody gets in a circle and sings Kumbaya. Sometimes it seems like it only happens at times of disaster.


And yet, as human beings, we have no choice but to examine our actions and try to create a more civil and enlightened world. Everything we cherish, from an ordinary floor lamp to the Constitution, came about because somebody was working on a better way.  And so a retrograde Mercury in Libra is one of the best times to work for social justice, as well as to find the path to balance and fairness in our own lives.  


Aquarius is the other prominent air sign of October, with both Jupiter and Saturn placed here.  Both of them start out the month retrograde, and then turn direct. (Saturn does this on October 10, and Jupiter on October 18, the same day as Mercury.)


Aquarius is a fixed air sign, so it takes that free, airy energy and works on creating definite organizational systems from it. While Libra focuses mostly on the relationship between self and other, Aquarius is all about our relationship with the greater community. What are we building together?  What truths will hold the weight of our future?  


Aquarius is also a sign that’s oriented towards scientific understanding. With Saturn in this sign until March of 2023, we have a chance to look realistically at such issues as climate change, drug addiction, and economic inequality. Aquarius is inventive, inquisitive, oriented towards learning and teaching. So this is an excellent time to listen to innovative thinkers, to test theories, and to see what works.


Aquarius is all about challenging old belief systems, the ones that keep us burdened or afraid. There’s no shortage of these. Texas is trying to take us all back to a time when women wore crinolines, and bounty hunters stalked people for money. The ad campaign to de-legitimize democracy is going strong, with hucksters and criminals briskly funneling money into their own pockets. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has completely lost the respect it had when Ginsburg graced its bench.  


We all know that we have to treat each other better, and treat the earth better, to survive. And we really do know that there needs to be a complete overhaul of our civic and economic systems. Aquarius is the sign best equipped to draw the diagrams for the future. And Libra is the sign best equipped to meet people in the moment, and say, “I’m listening.”  


In the ways we think, and the ways we listen to the thoughts of others, we create our future. Our thoughts, whether we think or speak or write them, meet each other in the air, and form larger designs.  The bigger our ideas, the more we understand other people, the more abundant are the possibilities. Yes, we have a lot to learn and many problems to solve, but first, take a breath. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Weather Systems


I have no Ida where all this water is coming from. Ok, had to get that out of my system. Anyway, here in the DC area, we are dealing with lots of flooding, although we are nowhere near as bad off as New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.


These are just the remnants of Ida, a sideways swipe from a massive storm. It woke us up at 3 am with ferocious thunder and streaks of lightning. Lying in bed, I thought about the layers and layers of swirling energy above us. On the average day, we never notice it. But air and water are always flowing up there, intermingling as they respond to the fire of the sun and the contours of the earth, and sometimes they just can’t be contained.  


This morning, I looked out the kitchen window to what used to be my yard, and saw a lake lapping calmly around the house, broken up by the little concentric circles of raindrops. Through the day, the yard has drained, only to be refilled with more rain. Our neighbor, the handyman, is helping us, getting ready to pump water out of our crawl space.  It will take a few days.


We are lucky and safe in our little island house, but others in our area have suffered more. Thousands have lost power. And I see pictures of rescue workers in inflatable boats, helping people trapped in basement-level apartments. These are people who woke up to water rising around their beds.


This is a soggy beginning for this new month, a month that traditionally brings a sense of new beginnings, as many kids go back to school.  But September is very tentative this year. Parents are anxious about sending their children off, worrying that they will be attacked by something no-one can see, a deadly virus.  How can you protect yourself or your loved ones against an invisible assailant? Meanwhile, there’s this background drumbeat of folks complaining about masks and vaccinations, fighting them instead of the disease.    


Astrologically speaking, this September is not really a forward-looking time. This month, all the outer planets are retrograde, and at the end of the month, Mercury joins them. Retrograde planets signal times of pausing and rechecking, fixing and mending, adjusting and reorganizing, taking stock of the situation.  In September, it will be all about figuring out where we are.


When we look ahead, we see only a little ways, but when we look behind, we can see for miles. Of course, it’s not always easy to look clearly at our history, especially as a country, and much of it has barely been written about. But perhaps in the struggles of the past, we can find some of the answers to our present-day polarization.  Maybe we can tease out the various threads and unsnarl this bitter knot.  


I’m by no means opposed to general skepticism of government intentions, but I’m on the side of those who wear masks and get vaccinations. From here, the anti-vaxxers seem aligned to some weird conspiracies, to Trump, and to the waving of Confederate and Nazi flags.  And after the Trump years, I have a tendency to bunch all these folks together as the worst kind of white people – that is, those deeply and emotionally wedded to their arbitrary hierarchies.  


But is it that simple? Should I be clumping these folks together?  Is the real problem this “us vs. them” mentality?  It’s so easy to label big groups in derogatory ways, but if I don’t resist this tendency, how can I ask anyone else to do so?  On the other hand, what about accountability? When it comes to trying to figure out my political opposites, I’ve got a good angel on one shoulder and a bad angel on the other, and my problem is that I’m not sure which is which.


At least, I have some inkling about why I’m so confused. Neptune is the planet of confusion, and as September begins, Mars is opposing it.  So I’m not the only one going around in circles this week. Mars is the planet of anger, retribution, violence, and righteous indignation, so it gives me a strong desire to place the blame somewhere. One angel is telling me that the anti-vaxxers, and even more the anti-maskers, are criminal, for putting so many other people in danger. The other angel is telling me that a judgmental attitude won’t solve any problems, least of all social ones.   


And yes, this is also a month with a strong Libra influence. As it begins, Mercury and Venus are in Libra, and when it ends, the sun, Mercury and Mars are in this idealistic air sign. Libra is always about weighing things, trying to find an ethical balance between two unlike things. And it gives a tendency to bounce back and forth, like a tennis ball bounding over a net. You think of something, and then you consider the opposite.  The hope is that eventually an argument comes to rest in a place that’s fair to both sides. (But what if it doesn’t?  What if each dispute just changes form into another dispute?)


This month, all the inner planets are bunched on one side of the earth, and all the outer planets on the other. The inner planets come out in the daytime, while the outer planets come out at night. The inner planets represent our ordinary day-to-day lives: our words, our feelings, our habits. The outer planets represent forces that are beyond our control, and often beyond our consciousness:  the larger circles of history, the ancient looming gods in our psyches, the drive towards the future, the inevitability of evolution.


But all through the month, the inner planets make aspects to the outer planets, working to connect.  We want to go beyond our narrow confines, our houses wrapped up in weather systems we don’t understand, our angry groups maligning each other, our sense of separation from whatever is coming our way.  


But all we can do is keep moving towards it, whatever it is. Like the weather, we are all changing together, reacting against each other, breaking out into storms and subsiding into peace. At least we can hope that, in the land where we’re bound, there will be some peace.    


Monday, August 2, 2021

Pride and Change


This is a peculiar summer, since we’re all half-in, half-out. For a while there, we were almost out in the world. People got vaccinated, the virus receded, folks emerged from their shells, and it was looking good. And then people resisted vaccination, a more contagious variant of the virus appeared, and since the non-vaxxers are also non-maskers, they’ve been stricken in large numbers.


We feel for these folks, since we know circles of suffering tend to radiate outward. At the same time, there’s some anger at the unnecessary sacrifice of lives, and the temptation to point blame somewhere. Right-wing politicians who’ve promoted increasing suspicion? Or years of blithe corruption by the ruling class?  


It does make me wonder about the human instinct for self-preservation. But I think humans are always providing proof that other things matter more to us than our own lives. One of those things is pride, and this is especially strong now, with the sun and Mercury in Leo. Pride is the belief in one’s own personal specialness.  Pride is goading the gods. Ha! Throw your thunderbolt my way, I side-step! No, I won’t wear a mask. Because I want everyone to see my glorious face, that’s why.  


Pride convinces people to go to war, which means standing in one place with other people shooting at you – which seems kind of crazy on the face of it. Pride has convinced humans for years that we’re just the best darned species that nature ever created, in spite of evidence to the contrary. National pride is all about jumping up and down and waving flags, not trying to improve conditions in the place you live.


But pride takes a beating in August, with the sun and Mercury in Leo opposing first Saturn and then Jupiter, both in Aquarius. Aquarius represents the community, while Saturn is the reality principle and Jupiter has to do with excesses and over-confidence. So the “special me” comes strutting up, and finds itself bumping up against a larger reality. Yes, there are a whole bunch of people walking around, infected with a virus which could kill you. It’s invisible, it’s airborne (Aquarius is an air sign), it’s part of your community, and it could reduce you to one of those faceless, ventilator-huffing bodies in a bed.


As the statistics circulate, those who aren’t too caught up in the magic of their own personal wonderfulness are looking around, going “Wait, what?” and starting to take more precautions. It’s irritating, after all this time in limited spaces, but sometimes limits keep you alive.


However, just being cautious isn’t enough, since the sun/Mercury in Leo are also contending with the wild rebel planet, Uranus, early this month.  Uranus is the planet of sudden change, and, in the earth sign Taurus, it can appear as the avalanche, or the whirlwind, or the flood, or the forest fire. And although these can seem like purely random events – natural disasters -  we know by now that human beings have our thumbs on the scale, when it comes to most weather events.


The new moon, on August 8, is dominated by these squares between Leo and Taurus, setting the tone for the next lunar cycle. And so there will be lots of lessons for us, involving our place in the natural world. Climate change and the virus bring up questions around our resources, our webs of support, and our ability to adapt.


All the signs I’ve mentioned are fixed signs, and adaptation is not easy. It means leaving behind deeply-rooted beliefs, as well as cherished images of who we are. Sometimes it seems like we humans want our time on earth to be brief and flashy, six million years of neon hubris and then a grand exit like a Cecil B. DeMille movie. Who were we?  Ah, those humans - a glorious but unsustainable experiment.


Luckily, this month, there’s a strong Virgo presence in the sky, especially in mid-month. An earth sign, Virgo represents the workers of this world, the ones who actually do all the things that other people take credit for. Virgo emphasizes healthy living and sensible solutions. It’s a mutable sign, meaning that it’s responsive to the environment, able to change according to material requirements.  


And this month, three Virgo planets make trines  - harmonious aspects -  to rowdy Uranus, giving this planet some more positive outlets. Uranus can be symbolized by the jolt of electricity, but it’s also the flash of creativity. And these earthy trines to Uranus give practical creativity, so there will be a lot of useful problem-solving this month. Some of this will come from scientists in cold labs, and some of it from gardeners, craftspeople, and backyard tinkerers.  


Uranus in Taurus is like a ferocious hairy mammoth, and at the beginning of the month, it’s ready to devour everyone. But by the end of the month, those Virgo planets, using patience and careful observation, have it tamed. It may still jump on you, and leave you sprawling in the grass, but it won’t finish you off. People in general will be more willing to work together towards rational and mutually beneficial ends. And when it comes to tricky weather patterns, things may be gentler after mid-month.


There’s still some tension between Virgo and Aquarius though, as August goes on. This isn’t an easy combo, and different people in your life can represent either the Virgo or the Aquarius viewpoint. Virgo wants to fix things right now, while Aquarius is more idealistic, and wants systems that will move us all into a better future.


Virgo can’t stop dissecting every little thing to get at the flaws, and then putting it back together in a better way. Aquarius can be wildly inventive, way ahead of the times, and completely okay with shocking more conventional people. They can differ on how to do things in the moment (and this is always more important to Virgo) as well as what the ultimate meaning is (and this is always most important to Aquarius).


Together, they can be a formidable duo, and so integrating these energies is a worthwhile goal for August. And if you can find both Virgo and Aquarius traits within yourself, you can be both an indefatigable worker and a brilliant theorist. You can face the realities of the moment, while at the same time, daring to build a very different future.  



Thursday, July 1, 2021

Happy Fourth!


I have such a good reason to celebrate July 4 this year.  In fact, my wife and I are planning to go to a nice little out-of-the-way place where we can watch some fireworks and toast the Constitution, that slippery document full of idealistic notions and weary compromises.


I’m not the most patriotic person in the world, having spent about half my life living overseas. But I’ve been living in this country now for nine years. And once I moved here, one of the first things I did was get married (legally, this time) to the woman who has been by my side for the last 35 years.


So thank you to the Supremes - my fallen hero, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, plus Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy – who voted for my right to marry.  Thanks for believing that I have a right to the pursuit of happiness.  And now, after all this time, my wife is also a citizen of the US. She was always an American, but now she’s a Unitedstatesian. (I am hoping this word will catch on, so please promote it for me.)   


There are a lot of things that are starting to happen, now that Mercury is direct again, and now that the Saturn/Uranus square is breaking up (although only temporarily).  Here in Maryland, masks are coming off, and restaurants and theatres are opening. This is why we can celebrate out in the world, rather than having bubbly in our bubble.  This is a new year for us, our first year as citizens of the same country.


However, a lot of the movement these days is corrective. We’re all still recovering from a period of political trauma, as well as the sorrow and fear of the pandemic. Mercury is direct in July, and this keeps things clicking along. But currently, all the outer planets except Uranus are retrograde, and Uranus is slowing down to retrograde in August. So we are trying to make up for ground that we’ve lost. There is still so much to do, and there’s a will to do it.


To fix what’s broken, people need to be held accountable, and that’s a slow process. However, it is starting. The Trump organization has just been charged with tax fraud, and its CFO was in court today trying to explain why he didn’t have to fork out any money for his electric bill, car payments, apartment rental, holiday vacations, and the other things that exist in the budgets of the simple folk.  Here we see some of the first cracks in this tower of illusions and corruption.  


And as Trump’s empire collapses, that condo in Florida just collapsed, trapping more than a hundred people. I’m sure that will jar more people into realizing that infrastructure is not purely theoretical. It’s about concrete and air and water. Maybe they’ll write their congresspeople, and suggest that something needs to be done, now?


There are a lot of things that we’ve thought of as fixed, that are now in flux. But it’s a constant wrangle. Even though the Saturn/Uranus square is no longer so tight, and it will keep loosening until October, there are still impasses. There are still plenty of people wedded to the status quo, deathly afraid of losing money, status or power.


In the House, things are busy. I keep getting notices that my congressman, Rep. Jamie Raskin, is voting on one bill after another, and all these bills pass. Sometimes the margins are slim, it’s true. The Republicans vote to keep Confederate statues in the Capitol, to ignore methane emissions, and to let military operations in the Middle East continue indefinitely. They are pretty much okay with giving gold medals to the Capitol police who defended their lives in the January 6 riot, but definitely not in favor of any efforts to find out what the heck happened there.  


But in the Senate, the filibuster hangs over every bill like a guillotine blade. Even so, they’re negotiating, and infrastructure bills are weaving in and out of the picture. And even though the Voting Rights bill failed, it isn’t going to die. It will come up again and again, in slightly different forms, like the demons rustling in the curtains in Mitch McConnell’s bedroom.


Democracy is clearly as dangerous now as it was when the Constitution was written. We can tell that by the way they keep trying to suppress it. It’s not a miracle cure for everything that ails us, but it’s a good tool, something we can work with – and towards – and then with, again.


We still have so much to do. But in my house, we just added a new voter to the country. My wife and I watched Joe Biden’s little address to new citizens, and I have to say, I got kind of teary eyed. I’m ready to pop the cork, to toast this country, and to look up in the sky and say “Oooooh!”  Happy fourth of July!    

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Buzz of Thought


The rising and falling buzz of cicadas fills the air today. This spring has been cold, and for the last few days, we’ve had the heat on, and the cicadas have been dormant. Today it’s gone up to 79°F, and I can see them looping through the air in front of my window. Many of them are the size of hummingbirds, but their flight pattern is very different, wild and zany. They careen along from one tree to the next, in search of love, or fun, or maybe just a really great tree.


We humans in this house are also coming to life, after the stasis of the pandemic. Just a few days ago, my wife and I went out and had an unmasked visit with a friend, complete with hugs. It was just like the old days, when people weren’t afraid of each other.


It’s a good month to reclaim lost territory, since Mercury will be retrograde almost all of June. Even after it goes direct on June 22, it will amble along quite slowly for another week. This is a good time to go back and pick up all the pieces that you’ve dropped along the way. This could include the relationships you’ve ignored, the words you haven’t said, and the longings you’ve swatted down.


But I have to warn you that it will be very easy to get distracted this month. You may go back to pick up some shiny thing you’ve dropped, and then find yourself wandering around in somebody’s back garden for days. That’s because Mercury is in the very mercurial sign Gemini, and it stays within 7° of a square to Neptune the whole month.


So your mind can’t be roped down this month, but will take the long way through every maze you come across. This isn’t easy for those of you who just want to get from Point A to Point B, but you may sometimes find that the backwoods path will also take you to Point B, although you may have forgotten why you wanted to go there.  


Neptune is the planet of imagination, illusions, hypnosis, fascinations, glamours, and addictions. Neptune and Mercury vie for the title of Trickster planet, and with the two of them in aspect all month, you can’t believe everything you see or hear. You’ll need to keep your wits about you.


The new moon on June 10 brings an eclipse, and again, there’s a very mercurial focus, with Mercury in Gemini nestled in with the sun and moon. You can expect an explosion of ideas, brainstorms, verbal power. Words sometimes seem like the most transient thing in the universe, constantly vanishing in the air. Even written words are common as ants. But like ants, they can form structures and patterns that last a long time.


And so this is the essence of this eclipse: the burgeoning idea, passed from mind to mind. At the same time, with that square to Neptune – less than 3° away from Mercury at the new moon – there’s always somebody who’s going to take your idea and twist it around. There’s no piece of information that doesn’t spawn a hundred distortions.


But there are some ideas that are meant to burst forth at this time. With Mercury retrograde, these ideas don’t have to be brand-new. Some of them have lived among us for centuries, a low-key hum in our ears. Often knowledge emerges from the earth, like the ancestors found in the African Burial Grounds in the middle of New York City. Buried information dusts itself off and enters the village square.


This is the meaning of this month’s eclipse: to renew, to remember, and to pass along. It’s not altogether an easy month, with Saturn and Uranus again squaring each other in mid-June. There’s a continuing fixed battle between inertia and progress, and we definitely see this in Congress, as the Republicans steadily block everything that comes their way. But as frustrating as this is, it doesn’t signify that nothing is moving.


We are moving all the time. Reaching out towards each other, minds open, thoughts dancing, discovering and rediscovering what is beautiful and real. Learning how to clear away the cobwebs of illusion and see truly – into ourselves, each other, and our world.

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Novelty of Sanity


A couple of nights ago, my wife and I snuggled together in bed for the evening’s entertainment, mainly watching the president give a speech to Congress. This is definitely not something we would’ve done in the last administration, not unless we wanted nightmares.


And afterwards, we turned to each other and commented, “He’s so normal!” “So sane!” This is still a novelty, a hundred days into Biden’s presidency. We just can’t get over it.


Biden wasn’t my first choice, back in the days when we had a whole roster of Democratic candidates to pick from. But I have to say I’m happy with him now. It’s clear that he’s working on what he promised to do. He’s gotten one constructive bill passed, and is putting forward others that are good for workers and the environment. Just the fact that he’s working, of course, is the most dramatic contrast between him and the previous occupant, who spent his days playing golf, watching TV, and vigorously massaging his own ego.


With Jupiter and Saturn now in Aquarius, social progress continues. Derek Chauvin’s conviction on a murder charge was ground-breaking, even though it left a lot of people exhausted and wondering what it would really change. After all, it’s just one man going to jail, while there are no doubt still a thousand white bullies out on the street, wearing guns and acting out their fear of brown skin.


But I’ve seen a lot of changes happening in this long life of mine. And even when there’s a definite victory, nothing changes right away. A law that passes, a good person that’s elected, a verdict that’s fair  – these things are celebrated and then forgotten. And then change seeps through, years pass, and you wake up one morning, and realize that it’s different. And it’s never different now. Now is just now. What you realize is that it used to be different.


Of course, there are also cataclysmic moments, when things take a sharp turn in an unexpected direction. These are the traumas carried for generations, never forgotten, only healed by years of peace and security. I think it’s easier to heal when you’re brought down by the elements, by fire or flood or a shaking earth, and much harder when you’re betrayed by other human beings.  These cataclysmic moments are often the impetus for the years of hard work that culminate in an election, a law, or a trial.


Aquarius is an air sign, cerebral, idealistic, and systematic, and its focus is on the wellbeing of the community. So this is an ideal time to move forward, to make as much progress as we can. This doesn’t heal all the traumas of the past, but it could help prevent some new ones from developing.


And yes, there continue to be blockages. Pluto is still in Capricorn, and Uranus is moving through the fixed earth sign Taurus. Uranus’ job is to keep us off balance, and lately it mostly seems to be taking the form of right-wing shock tactics. Uranus in Taurus is a contradiction, the rebel planet in the most change-resistant sign.


Will we be able to keep up the momentum on social reform, given these fierce pockets of resistance?  Will we be able to make change that lasts, change that heals?  Will we be able to create a new normal, in which people can wake up, stretch, and forget that it was any other way?


Jupiter is moving very quickly these days, and halfway through May, it enters a new sign, Pisces. It will only be here for a couple of months before retrograding back to Aquarius in late July and staying there the rest of the year. But it’s a little glimpse of the future, a look at what 2022 will be like.


I have two minds about Jupiter in Pisces, and that figures, since this sign is represented by two fish swimming in different directions. On the one hand, it’s the most spiritual and emotionally sensitive sign in the zodiac, and it could be deeply healing. It could foster a spirit of compassion that we haven’t seen in a while. It’s the nature of Pisces to dissolve the walls between people, to blur the differences, to see through to the soul.  


On the other hand, Pisces is also a sign that moves quite easily into a wholly different reality. It’s a sign that gives a particularly vivid imagination. Neptune has been there for the last decade, and during this time, strange conspiracy theories have sprouted up like mutant dandelions. Will this increase when Jupiter is in Pisces?  Yes, probably.  


What can we do about it?  Well, it will help that Saturn is still in Aquarius for another couple of years. Saturn gives a little bit more intellectual ballast. It asks you to run your beliefs through a rigorous line of questioning, and some people will be daunted by a few undeniable facts. But when people really, really want to believe something, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not. All that matters is that it makes them feel better or more important, or it justifies something they grew up believing.   


And remember, it’s not just on the right that Neptune’s fantasies can proliferate. On the left too, we can be seduced by a patina of holiness, a tendency to over-idealize singular charismatic figures. We have to be careful not to turn into true believers.


We’ve got some wonderful, inspiring people on the left, and we can appreciate the work done by all kinds of people, elected and unelected.  But no one person is going to magically turn this thing around.  Let’s just hope for ordinary people who want to devote their energy to the common good. Let’s just hope for continued sanity.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Going Somewhere


Spring is officially here, but it’s not yet warm enough to open the windows and feel the breeze, at least not here in Maryland.  It’s a transitional time. We’re all in the middle of a seasonal shift. We’re going somewhere, but we’re not there yet.


On the evening news, I hear that there are new surges of Covid-19. I see young people partying in Florida without masks or social distancing. At the same time, I hear of more friends getting vaccinated every day. I’ve gotten my two shots, without anything much in the way of side effects, and my wife is supposed to be vaccinated this weekend.


So I feel safer. But I also feel like someone who has just sidled past a sleeping lion, and is just lucky that it didn’t blink awake at that crucial moment. I’ve never been so aware of being mortal. That’s partly because I’ve lost loved ones this past year, and others are still in danger. Not everyone has made it past the lion.


We who are still upright on this planet look at each other, check each other out, breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of each other’s faces. It won’t be too long before we’ll be able to appear to each other in three-dimensional form, wonderfully solid. It will be strange, as if a bunch of cartoons suddenly came to life, but I daresay we’ll get used to it!


This is the thing about spring. During the winter, everything is theoretical. Trees are reduced to bones, and flowers occupy a niche in our memory. In spring, all that theory becomes reality. There are buds everywhere. They’re alive, exuberant, immediate, and right on time. Every time I go outside, I see more of them, and I know that pretty soon my study window, now grey and flecked with rain, will be a mass of green.   


In April, there’s more momentum than we’ve seen in a while. It’s not just the drive to get everyone vaccinated. We also have this new Democratic muscle in Congress, and we just saw the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. Today Biden unveiled a new infrastructure plan, full of great, practical initiatives. What kind of legs does it have? We’ll have to see.  


An abundance of new ideas are circulating. Aries is the sign of new beginnings, and the sun and Venus in Aries give fiery energy to every new possibility. And Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all in air signs – verbal, thoughtful, idealistic, socially aware. All these influences are excellent for problem-solving, studying, planning, debating, and working out agreements. It looks like something can happen, right? All these forces point to movement and manifestation.  


And yet there are also those static forces, holding everything back. The Covid bill was passed without a single Republican vote. And then there’s the voter suppression bill that was passed in Georgia a few days ago. There is a whole phalanx of people who are digging their feet in, putting all their energy (and lots of money) into resisting the forces of change.  


And I can’t say that these people won’t be in power again. It’s true that the political tide ebbs and flows, even though I believe that the long-range trend is towards freedom, justice and equality.  


The thing is that none of the outer planets are in particularly revolutionary signs these days. The overall energy is still conservative, for at least a few more years. And with Uranus, the rebel planet, in the fixed earth sign Taurus, there is a cadre of revolutionary conservatives, as contradictory as that sounds.


These folks want the world to freeze into a particular configuration that favors them. They want a world in which white people have all the power (and no ownership of their past actions), women know their place, gay people are hidden away, and there are definitely no trans people.  In fact, they don’t want anybody around who makes them feel uncomfortable. And they are willing to turn the world upside down and shake it to the point of apoplexy, to make it this way.


So, yes, grab on to something solid. Because we may see a lot of these people when Mercury, Venus and then the sun all meet Uranus during the last week of April. The full moon of April 26 is turbulent, and a lot of survival issues could come up around that time.


Still, I believe that, on some etheric level, the world’s minds are working together to solve all the world’s problems. This is a matter of faith, not evidence, because our species has knotted things up quite often, and sometimes in spectacular ways. Still, sometimes I tune into that buzzing network of hopes, dreams, illusions, breakthroughs, and expertise, and I’m suitably impressed. I’m not sure exactly where we’re going. But it’s not static.