Friday, April 29, 2022

Calm Skies and Brewing Storms


I hope the neighbors are happy. We finally got the grass cut. I would’ve been quite happy to just let our lawn become a meadow, and I think the rabbits would’ve liked that better too. This is suburbia, though, and we would have gotten cited by somebody or other. But as I look out my window, I miss all that graceful tall grass, sprinkled with bright little wildflowers, and I wonder about the price of my obedience.   


Our lawn inertia was just one area in which we were stalled. A lot of things are on hold right now, as Mercury slows down, ready to go retrograde on May 10. I’m getting my basic work done, but all larger projects seem paralyzed, even the ones that are closest to my heart, like the novel I’m writing. Spring itself seems reluctant to take over from winter.


With Mercury retrograde through the rest of the month, forward movement will be unlikely. But moving backwards isn’t bad, since it will give us all a chance to pick up some of the balls we’ve dropped. Mercury will be in the frisky air sign Gemini until May 22, when it moves back into solid, earthy Taurus. It basically trades places with the sun, which will be in Taurus until May 20, and then in Gemini. The Gemini influence adds to the chatter going on around us – the information, and sometimes misinformation, that everyone is picking up. But the Taurus influences this month keep things mostly steady for the time being.


Every new moon is the beginning of a new chapter, and May’s chapter starts with the new moon in Taurus on April 30. This gives this lunar cycle a stable, unwavering Taurus quality. However, there are a couple of indications of underlying changes. At this new moon, there’s an eclipse, which signals an important shift in perceptions. And the moon and sun are also conjunct Uranus, the planet of change. What’s going on with these things? It seems like something is peeking out through the long grass.


The lunar nodes have to do with karma, and at every eclipse, they meet up with the sun and moon, one way or another. In an individual’s birth chart, the nodes signal the work that you signed on to do in your lifetime. The current positions of the nodes show the work that we are all doing, here and now, as a global collective. The children being born now will take up this work more intentionally, but it’s still here for all of us to do at this time. It’s about turning away from the excesses of the past and finding balance.


Currently, the north node is in Taurus, and so it asks us to pause and sink our feet deep into the earth. It’s about living simply and sustainably, grounding ourselves in the moment, and appreciating all the gifts that Gaia gives us. This is our work of the moment, and Mercury retrograde is perfect for this. In Gemini, it starts out with a lot of fast talk and restless gestures, but then it’s like a gear running down, slowly losing momentum and becoming still. As Mercury retrogrades into Taurus, we speak more slowly and deliberately. We tell the truth, recognizing what’s really happening in the world around us. These words have been said before; they are not new. But they have to be said over and over, until they are heard.


So this is a good time to stand on the earth, listen to her, and take in what she feels. We know that we – all of us together -  need to live in a more balanced, sustainable way. We know that the economy needs to be entirely different, and that both extreme wealth and poverty are toxic for this planet.


What about that Uranus conjunction to the new moon?  I’ve noticed that the fixed signs, the ones that are most firmly planted in their world-view, are also the most explosive ones. The more flexible signs know that, if you know how to bend, you don’t break. But for the fixed signs, there’s so much resistance to change that it comes as a thunderclap. Change is inevitable, a natural process, and if things are calcified, change involves some breakage. So this is the other side of this gentle, calm Taurus energy. We need to simplify and ground ourselves, and figure out ways to live sustainably, yes. But if we human beings can’t do this, it will take an explosion of some kind to bring us to balance.  


So Uranus’ position - near the sun, the moon, and the north node -  is by nature of a warning. Nothing could be gentler and easier than loving the earth upon which we live. But to enact this love, we have to embrace some dramatic redistribution of resources, including power. We have to learn how to live without exploiting her, or each other. If we don’t voluntarily change, then change will be foisted upon us.


The other important thing that’s happening in May is that Jupiter is going into Aries. Jupiter takes about a year to go through a sign, so this is like the astrologer’s new year. It’s a new beginning, especially in Aries, the first sign of the zodiac. Jupiter is the planet of community growth, and it tells us something about where the community’s energy will take us all. As always, there’s a bright side to Aries – heroic, passionate, spontaneous, courageous – and a shadow side – competitive, militaristic, willful, uncooperative.


And so this doesn’t look like a particularly tranquil year. Jupiter in Aries favors the revolutionary, the iconoclast, and the inventor, as well as militants of various stripes. At its heart, Aries is about the search for the true self, and so you’ll see more people chopping through the weeds and making their own paths, eschewing the usual social bribes.  With all this sedate Taurus energy and with Mercury retrograde, we might not see the fiery quality of Jupiter in Aries right now, in May. But we have a year for it to assert itself.  


And so, the coming year looks hot, literally and figuratively.  Hot people often do wild, crazy things. When people are highly uncomfortable, they act on impulse, and there are more accidents, more wars, and more revolts. The earth also responds in cataclysmic ways to high concentrations of heat, and she may spend some time sweeping those pesky humans off her surface. This is all the more reason to pay attention to the message of the north node, which will stay in Taurus all the time that Jupiter is in Aries. It’s like a voice telling us to stop, take a few deep breaths, and quite literally cool out, before it’s too late.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Trickster


I always celebrate April 1st by writing a letter full of lies and sending it to the people I know best – in other words, those who won’t immediately call the guys with the butterfly nets to come take me away. I write about tsunamis in the mountains, blessings from the pope, runaway Supreme Court justices, floating taxis, alien visitations, talking squirrels, and that sort of thing.  I usually start out in the realm of the probable and get more and more outlandish, hoping to lull my hapless readers into swallowing the whole thing. It used to work, but now I very rarely fool anybody, probably because these letters show up on the same date every year.  


I like to impersonate the Trickster during that one day in the year. As a mythological figure, the Trickster is the one who reminds us that there are always sneaky ways around the rules and regulations that bind us. He/she is a rebel, a shape-shifter.


Astrologically, April is uneven, a Trickster month. There are a few stretches of relative inactivity, but these are suddenly punctuated by high-octane days in which a lot happens all at once. All the planets are direct until the end of the month, when Pluto retrogrades, so everything is moving forward.  People are not much invested in reviewing the past, but rather pushing towards their goals and ambitions, and in the process, coping with new conditions.


Jupiter, moving quickly this month, has an expansive effect in many people’s lives, so that everyone is busier, as well as more excited and expressive. Whatever people are into, they’re more into it now, and wherever they’ve put their energy, they’re seeing results, adding extra enthusiasm. As plans come into fruition, it’s heady. Jupiter goes through the otherworldly, imaginative sign Pisces, keeping those creative juices flowing. At the same time, there are people who getting carried away, losing contact with the ground altogether. Jupiter in Pisces is magical, it’s heady, but it’s also shaky, changeable, confusing and unreliable.


The Trickster is not always a benign figure, as we see by looking at Neptune, the Trickster planet, the planet of imagination, hypnosis, addiction and illusion. Neptune rules all trance states, some of them blissful (like falling in love, or feeling a religious calling), and some awful (like drinking oneself to death, or being taken in by a conman). Neptune takes you away from the ordinary, into a realm which has no borders. This could be pure emotion, or an absolute belief, or a powerful dream, or a delusion.  


On April 12, expansive Jupiter and imaginative Neptune will meet up. This conjunction happens about every twelve years, and the last time was in 2009, in the sign Aquarius.  That was the year that Barack Obama was sworn in as president, causing lots of people to swear that racism was over. (It wasn’t.) 2009 was also the year the bitcoin was established, an economic sleight of hand if there ever was one. There was also a pandemic in 2009, called the swine flu, although people argued a lot about the name, and never really decided what to call it. It wasn’t as deadly as our current pandemic, but there were major outbreaks, especially in Asia. Here in the US, it helped that the government took swift action, with no particular political opposition to vaccines or any other preventative measures.


The current Jupiter/Neptune conjunction in Pisces brings a lot more oddball conspiracy theories than we saw the last time, as well as the strange resistance to public health measures. That’s largely because of Trump, the trickster figure who came along halfway between the conjunctions. A liar and a thief, he tried his best to corrupt every person and institution he touched, and often succeeded.  


We live in a time in which many people are afraid, and this makes them especially vulnerable to trickster characters like him. Our habitat is degrading quickly, but people want to ignore all this, to pretend it doesn’t exist, to stay hypnotized. Trump had the meaningless but hypnotic patter, the ability to misdirect the public attention. His vigorous insults to the press meant that his followers had no clear source of commonly held truths. This echoes the way abusive partners cut off their victim’s access to the outer world.  


The Jupiter/Neptune opposition which produced the trickster Trump was the low point, and the new Jupiter/Neptune conjunction both ends the cycle which began in 2009, and begins a new one. Every Jupiter/Neptune conjunction contains the seeds of a new spiritual vision, and we saw this when Barack Obama was elected. Some people were afraid, but many others were joyful and inspired. His election didn’t put an end to racism – and in fact, the backlash has been considerable – but it made it more transparent. Racism itself involves a certain sleigh-of-hand. It originated as a successful ruse to convince some people to participate in the abuse of others, and, as the trick is revealed, the fog clears away. The trickster Trump may have obscured this truth, but only temporarily.  


The pandemic, so terrible in so many ways, now seems to be ending. This is another ending and beginning, a reset. Structures that faded away during the pandemic don’t come back unless people want them to, and there are some things about the old world that no longer appeal to the citizens of the new world. Cutthroat capitalism no longer seems quite as inevitable as it did back then. It was always a trick. It was never the only way, but a lot of folks were fooled into believing it was.


So how do we make the best use of this Jupiter/Neptune conjunction? At its core, Neptune is holistic consciousness, pure spiritual awareness, and Jupiter can amplify and spread that. When we feel the unity of all people and all things, it’s very hard for malevolent tricksters to find a foothold. They can only climb using the cracks in our psyches, the places where we feel disconnected and powerless.


Imagine a different kind of world. Imagine that we all could live together in peace, helping each other freely, finding ways to rescue our habitat from the degradations of the past, acknowledging each other’s beauty, creativity and tenderness.  Remember that John Lennon/Yoko Ono song, Imagine? It was first published during a Jupiter/Neptune conjunction.  There are many other songs like that, still coming from the hearts of the people. There’s an endless flow of them.


We can’t close our eyes and wish another world into immediate existence, but we can put our dreams and visions into the work of our hands and our minds, and bring them forth. This is a good time to take the first steps, towards what feels true.