Thunder Snow

Entering into Capricorn season in the northern hemisphere is something we do with sarcasm and a bit of grim determination. Winter requires a certain level of ‘adulting’– simply from the primal perspective of having to deal with the cold, ice, and snow. The effort it takes to get where we are going in the midst of a storm is a metaphor for this astrological energy. Capricorn is the part of our natal charts where we do what we have to do, regardless of how difficult. And we do it because human beings need to accomplish what we say we will– our integrity and self-respect is connected to it.

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This year’s solstice lands a few days after the start of a new lunar cycle on Monday, December 18th. The Sun and Moon meet up in the last degrees of Sagittarius at 1:30 a.m., and then the New Moon moves ahead into Capricorn later that morning. The next day Saturn makes its move into Capricorn, and the Sun follows Thursday morning at 11:29, marking the official start of the winter season on December 21st.  As if that’s not enough, Venus will join the party Christmas day, entering Capricorn just after midnight. That’s a lot of planets in one sign (including Pluto, who’s been hanging out there for years)! Astrologically speaking, this means that Capricorn themes are on the agenda, individually and collectively.

Capricorn strives for autonomy and personal control. It is the archetype of the wise elder, the symbol of knowledge learned from experience and effort. Adjectives like “ambitious” and “goal-oriented” are often used to describe this sign, but that only points to the surface of what the energy looks like. The true nature of Capricorn is to own their own power– to be able to make manifest what they envision. So there is great strength and resiliency here where one’s word is one’s oath. Committment is serious. Because if we don’t commit to what we ourselves are saying, who else can we trust in the world?

This year’s solstice is supercharged with Capricorn as Saturn, its ruling planet, shifts into home territory for the next 3 years. Last month I wrote about Saturn’s transit of Sagittarius, which challenged our collective philosophy and shattered cultural delusions. The wild chaos and embarrassing lack of morality is unavoidable in our present society. So maybe this shift that Saturn is about to make will bring exactly what we deserve. Without any doubt, a time of reckoning is about to begin. All the hype, distraction, and melodrama will not be able to withstand the stark dignity of Saturn in Capricorn.

If that makes you nervous, this transit is something to start working with consciously. We all have to grow up a little, represented by wherever Saturn in Capricorn is in our chart. Resisting growth will only make the lessons that much harder to learn. This isn’t punishment, and to look at it as such only sells out to laziness and weakness. And we aren’t lazy and weak. There is honor and accomplishment in Capricorn work because we earn dignity, we learn to be our own authority. We trust ourselves. We don’t have to make excuses, lie, and blame. We don’t tweet. If there’s something you have felt unsupported in or too busy/stressed out/weak to commit yourself to, this is the blessing you needed. There are more important things than staying in your comfort zone. Saturn in Capricorn invites us to start climbing the very mountain that scares us, promising one hell of a view.

I am the bended, but not broken. I am the power of the thunderstorm. I am the beauty in the beast. I am the strength in weakness. I am the confidence in the midst of doubt. I am Her!” — Kierra C.T. Banks

 

 

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Scientology’s Heretic and Saturn in Sagittarius

Welcome to Sagittarius season! The Sun shifted into fire sign Sagittarius Tuesday night, marking the final month of decreasing daylight hours. That’s an optimistic way to look at winter! Seeking out the positive glass-is-half-full viewpoint is standard practice for Sagittarius– it’s characterized by a future-oriented, enthusiastic, adventurous, and impetuous energy which helps lift us up into the holiday spirit.

Saturn has been transiting Sagittarius for a few years now, and we’re coming to the end of the journey. The planet of limitation and restriction first entered the sign on December 23, 2014, but due to its retrograde phase Saturn backed up into Scorpio during the summer of 2015. It settled firmly into Sagittarius on September 17, 2015 and will remain there for just 4 more weeks. Before it moves into its home sign Capricorn, I wanted to look back at one example of Saturn in Sagittarius manifesting itself in the world.

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Saturn has a restricting effect on us because it tests our strength. It represents the confining limits of reality– where Neptune and the Moon are elusive and imaginative planets, Saturn is stuck in the solid material world, with all its flaws and demands. The lessons we learn through Saturn experiences are invaluable to our growth. We earn dignity and competence through Saturn times because we are met with challenges and loss and have to fight harder for what we want.

While Saturn transits Sagittarius, long-held philosophies and belief systems have been under scrutiny. The polarizing scandals of politics and Hollywood have gone crazy– from Trump-supporters and “fake news” accusations to sexual abuse revelations and NFL protests, it seems like nothing is sacred. Sagittarius, which corresponds to that big-picture, cross-cultural vision, has been reigned in by strict Saturn testing just how inclusive our beliefs really are. Sagittarius is a fun-loving, gregarious sign– and it’s been difficult to feel that type of optimism while Saturn exposed all these lies and weak points in our perception. And in negative ways, this elicits a brash, dogmatic, outspoken quality– the type that won’t tolerate discussion or compromise. It’s depressing to see how awful people have been treating each other, whether we’re talking about powerful movie agents, white police officers, or extreme politicians. But the gift of this transit is the truth coming to light, which ultimately allows healing to begin.

American actress Leah Remini entered the Church of Scientology as a child in the 1970’s. Scientology, which began in 1953 based on the science fiction writings of L. Ron Hubbard, is defined as “a religious course of study and counseling based on self-knowledge and spiritual fulfillment.” Her mother was introduced to the religion by a boyfriend, and the family became Scientologists when Remini was just 9 years old. She was an active member throughout her adolescent and early adult years, advocating the ‘good work’ the Church claimed to be accomplishing as it cleared the world of drug abuse and crime. It wasn’t until the 2006 celebrity marriage of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes that Remini began to question Scientology– when she asked why a particular high-ranking Church official wasn’t in attendance and was met with a harsh rebuke. According to Remini, “The response spoke to the person in me that doesn’t like to be bullied.”

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After a few years of searching the internet, observing Church practices, and being interrogated by Church officials, Remini finally split with Scientology in 2013 and wrote a revealing autobiography of her experiences that was published in November 2015. The book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology elicited such a strong response from other victims of the religion that Remini was inspired to follow the story further. A documentary series was born out of Remini’s interview with former Scientologist Amy Scobee, who was disconnected from her family due to Scientology doctrine. The heart-wrenching revelation that Church practices were destroying human relationships became the central theme of Remini’s work. As she says in the first episode, “I thought I’d be documenting stories of families that were torn apart by the Church’s practices, but what I uncovered was much deeper and darker than I ever expected.” Television network A&E picked up the series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which first aired in November 2016, and has currently evolved into its second season.

This is Saturn in Sagittarius energy at its best, manifesting as the courage that it requires to publicly question a powerful institution. Scientology is a billion dollar entity that uses its enormous resources to maintain its propaganda. Scientology and the Aftermath reveals detailed accounts of witnesses  that prove corruption and abuse by the self-proclaimed religion, and in typical blowhard fashion, all the Church can do is deny the claims.  But the information is out there, and reality (Saturn) can’t be swept aside in the name of faith (Sagittarius). Saturn in Sagittarius is providing the consistent effort needed to reframe a cultural viewpoint, to help clarify a belief system and put us on solid ground. And most of all, it’s empowering people to take charge of their own faith– to understand that the human capacity to love and forgive far outweighs any promise of redemption by some large institutional power.

“I don’t want people to feel powerless because something seems more powerful than you. Yes, they may have more money. Yes they might have people that intimidate you. But we’re never going to make any change if we’re constantly being bullied.” (Season 1, Episode 4)

Libra New Moon: Raising the Standard

It feels as though the world is exploding. The news cycle is a relentless onslaught of shocking events and revelations, and the social and political problems that need to be discussed are tangled up in intense emotions that make rational people want to throw their hands up and walk away. This week’s New Moon in Libra paves the way for an astrological shift in energy as the Sun heads toward the sign Scorpio, symbolizing a need to be courageous in our vulnerability.Seattle Feb 2012 100 (2)

Jupiter has led the way into Scorpio, making its entry into the water sign back on October 10th. Jupiter spends approximately one year in each sign, operating in a way that expands our understanding of worth and value. It tends to exaggerate our expectations or appetites because whatever it is that we desire (represented by Jupiter in our natal chart) becomes distorted in importance. We overdo it. Just like binge watching Netflix or avoiding paying the bills, there’s a point where we know it’s gone too far and we have to clean up our own mess. Over-indulgence will usually require that we reevaluate and improve our boundaries in that particular area of life, which helps us to widen our perspective about what is really good for us.

So while Jupiter sets up shop in Scorpio, it will increase our experience of all of those deep emotions and psychological insights that we often keep tightly controlled, below the surface and out of polite conversation. It will be more difficult to reign in needs and fears, and it will be more difficult to sweep our nagging secrets and heavy burdens under the rug. But the gift of this stark truth is that when we face these emotions and fears, we begin to wrestle with the actual darkness. Scorpio heals by investigating the root of the disease. It eradicates the source of the problem. If we are perpetually wanting something bad for us, this is the time to ask why—and to deal with those habitual mental patterns. Jupiter in Scorpio is a powerful motivating force to release personal emotional wounds that have limited our sense of self-control.

Thursday’s New Moon in the late degrees of Libra sets the tone for this new lunar cycle. The Sun and Moon line up directly opposite Uranus in Aries, signifying that radical new ways of expression are needed to create real peace and harmony in the world. How much have we sacrificed in the name of “keeping the peace” in our lives? We’re entering the Scorpio season, and this requires some bare bones realism on an internal level. Scorpio doesn’t care about your Facebook status—it needs to get in touch with what your gut is telling you. Strip away pretenses and deal with your own desires and hang ups. Keen insight and transformative willpower are the gifts of Scorpio, if we will face what needs to be faced.

“It’s a question of whether you’re willing to look at your life and be responsible for it, and then begin to change it.”  James Baldwin

 

 

New Moon, New Season

My dad passed away on the last New Moon, during the total solar eclipse in August. That’s a sentence I wasn’t expecting to have to write. His death was shocking and swift, carving an enormous void in my life that will undeniably change the course of it.

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Tragedy and loss seem prevalent lately, whether it be violent social behavior or destructive weather. To say that times are tough trivializes the high degree of suffering on planet Earth, and that stress is taking its toll on our collective psyche. Today I listened to the President of this country threaten to totally destroy another one. Hearing that from a world leader sums up the hopelessness that a lot of us feel– the fear of ultimate, irreparable destruction resulting from ignorance and intolerance.

Pluto corresponds to this darkness. It’s not that Pluto is evil or destructive, but that Pluto is the symbolic basement that we shove the stuff we fear or hate. We are seeing the cost of corruption, pollution, and greed– all the things that our capitalistic civilization has been burying for hundreds of years. The polarization of politics, the impact of global warming, social inequality and racism– all of it, in our face, all at once. Pluto is slowing down to a crawl, hovering at the same degree of Capricorn until it finally begins moving forward again at the end of September. When a planet (particularly an outer planet that moves slowly to begin with) is ending its retrograde phase, the energy represented by that planet is intensified. And since Pluto is in itself intense, there’s a feeling of impending drama and irrevocable change to this astrology.

Pluto, however, is also symbolic of transformation and renewal. It’s the fortitude that we show when we help rebuild a home annihilated by a storm, or the guts that we have when we stand up to a bigot. It’s getting out of bed in the morning feeling the weight of an unbearable loss. It’s being an American who loves the country and doesn’t want another war. There is always hope with Pluto– not the lighthearted hope of thinking positively, which is nearly impossible when Pluto is active– but the unrelenting tenacity of human will.

The Sun and Moon meet together at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, marking a new lunar phase. The luminaries will join Mercury, Mars, and Venus in earthy Virgo, accentuating the need to start the clean-up process. The strength of this energy helps with practical and simple effort– we are more likely to get down to business, get our hands dirty, and very literally start fixing what is broken. The danger is that Virgo is hypercritical, which can serve to amp up the stress that is already palpable. We have to actively remember to be constructive rather than adding misery and defensiveness into an unsettled atmosphere. And the Sun moves into peace-seeking Libra this Friday at 4:02 p.m., beginning the fall season in the northern hemisphere. The ideals of harmony and cooperation are the gifts of this air sign, reminding us that we are all in this together, so we may as well try to help.

Many of us are overwhelmed by despair right now, and that feeling is so heavy that I’ve personally wished I could just give up on life itself. But I owe it to my dad to advance, just like the people in Texas and Florida are rebuilding, with sorrow and pain. One of my teachers, Steven Forrest, said something during an astrology webinar this past weekend that I keep repeating over and over in my head.  “Of course our bodies hurt. Of course our hearts hurt. But live, and do something. Create something.” September’s waxing lunar phase calls on us to stop confusing fear with hopelessness, and anger with hatred. Create something good in the place of something bad.

 

 

Eclipse of the American Heart

Media hype abounds regarding the upcoming solar eclipse, mainly due to its visibility across a great stretch of the United States. On a positive level, the communal witnessing of this event heightens the awareness of large masses of people to a larger force at work– taking each individual out of their own limited awareness, even if for just a few moments while staring at a light in the sky. That is spirituality at its simplest form. This naturally lends itself to a sense of change being imminent, as if the anticipation of this event marks the turning point of a new way of being.DSC01792

Nothing worthwhile comes easy– even streaks of good luck or extraordinary adventures fade out eventually, leaving space for real life to settle back in. The truly valuable things we have to rely on take effort, patience, and frustration. We’re getting a second dose of Leo New Moon energy this summer (read about first one here), as this solar eclipse occurs at the late degrees of the Sun’s home sign, emphasizing the need to stop putting on a phony act. Or to stop hiding in the shadows.  Leo is associated with confidence, but that is not because confidence comes easy. No matter what the risk, Leo needs to find a means to express itself without affectation, without a mask. Spontaneous and true, and risking rejection– that is the real feeling of Leo energy. So maybe this second chance at a new start is a reminder that we aren’t risking enough in the name of truth and personal power.

Using this moment involves creative imagination and the release of old frameworks. We can begin this work in the sensitive environment that rises through the coming days. Monday night, August 14th, marks the Last Quarter Moon in Taurus, which begins the final week of the current lunar cycle. In other words, this week we can clear space for this eclipse.

The astrological forecast during this waning Last Quarter phase includes some powerful activity involving Saturn and Venus, symbolizing a personal need to refocus mission and passion. Intensity and anxiety can press down on us while these planets visit some sensitive areas in each of our natal charts. Saturn is slowing down to turn direct again, which heightens our feelings of inadequacy and lack. If we’re off track in our strategy, particularly if it involves shame, loss, or fear we’ve bottled, Saturn can bring it up for reckoning as it slows down and hovers around the same degree in the zodiac. It’s time to lighten the load we lug around, and we can only do this by honesty and self-forgiveness.

Meanwhile,  Venus is affected by Pluto and Uranus, rocking self-esteem issues. When we don’t get what we want, all we see is what we hate about life. All of this serves a purpose, if we can stop and see this harshly lit window into what is wrong with us, including what we project out there and blame others for. We have a window into what we need in order to be happy.

The Leo New Moon is indicative of a collective need to reconnect with the heart, in a world where the crisis of disconnection and apathy are closing off the path to hope and faith. Ultimately all of our happiness is interconnected, for it is impossible to be happy in a miserable and suffering world. I think everyone, for the most part, wishes the world would find some humanity and peace right now. And never has the need been greater than at this ‘Great American Eclipse’.

 

 

 

 

Solar Plexus Chakra and Leo

Powerful rays of fire energy are beginning to heat the astrological sky as Mars, the Sun, and the Moon each shift into Leo over the next few days, eventually forming the New Moon on Sunday morning at 5:46 EDT. Leo has a lot to do with our style– not necessarily just our appearance, but the way we present ourselves, our theatricality or lack thereof. Where Leo falls in our natal chart has a lot to do with how we feel about spontaneous self-expression, playfulness, and experiencing fun and joy. DSC01793 (2)

Leo correlates with the third chakra, Manipura or the Solar Plexus. This New Moon is all about strengthening, healing, and inspiring our self-confidence and our ability to feel pure happiness. This is a time to be mindful of how we deplete our energy and drain our own good moods. We all get in patterns of behavior that would be better to shake off, but it takes too much effort to do so. During this Mars/Sun time, we have planetary energy on our side, adding heat and willpower to build self-worth and to claim territory.

Just as the Sun is the center of the solar system, the Solar Plexus and Leo relate to the core of our identity. A healthy ego, in other words. It seems that the words “healthy” and “ego” are difficult to put together in today’s world. So much of what we hear and see seems bullying, judgmental, vain, and egocentric. And that will be the challenge, in the four weeks ahead, as strong, impatient, willful Mars chases the almighty Sun around its home sign Leo– can we burn away what is false and arrogant in our own ego? Authenticity and the confidence to show it– that is the goal. This New Moon honors the true individual we are becoming, and supports staying true to that own inner core.

The question, O me! so sad, recurring– What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here– that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Walt Whitman

 

 

Waxing to Full

Water sign Cancer is ruled by the Moon, which is to say that it has a strong affinity with lunar energies. Both the sign Cancer and the astrological Moon correlate with the inner, subjective realm– the quiet space within our mind that involves emotions and spirituality, the part of us that sometimes wonders who the hell is at the helm steering this ship of personality.

As the Moon continues to grow larger over the next week, the Sun is in the midst of its transit of Cancer in the zodiac, which serves to deepen the emotional pool. Rather than putting personal needs aside, we’re entering into an atmosphere where each individual is immersed in the complexity of their own feelings. And because those parts of us are typically submerged well below the surface of our style, it can be challenging to act and interact. Decision-making faculties are immersed in this emotional water, and intuition is stronger than rational thought.DSC01734 (2)

Of course we can’t all go and sit in meditation for the next seven days. This is the big holiday week, the height of summer in America. Mars in Cancer will be exactly opposite Pluto in Capricorn on Sunday, July 2, followed later next week by the Capricorn Full Moon conjoining Pluto and squaring Uranus in Aries. That equates to a high-intensity backdrop where defenses are prone to erupt. Considering the volatility of the trends in our world today, it’s a wise idea for each of us to be dealing with our own darkness as it comes up.

Listen to your gut reactions without judgment. Our own emotional instincts can be a teacher during this Cancer-themed astrology, where we can only improve our situation by making sure we’re healthy first. Too often we become stagnant and entrenched in the role we’ve built for ourselves. We resist change despite being detached or dissatisfied because ego wins over our heart. The Moon, symbolic of the primal Mother energy, reminds us that we’re here on earth to be happy, and the route to that happiness needs to be attended to as it changes with time.