The Healing Power of Humility

Humans have survived many major crises throughout history. In an effort not to over-dramatize the times we’re living in, I want to remind us all of the resiliency of the human spirit. It’s easy, right now, to feed off the disgust, despair, and blame circulating in the atmosphere. But we need to recognize that truth, accountability, and decency do matter– and it’s up to us to live in our strength, not in our hatred.

The Sun is in earth sign Virgo, and Mercury just joined it here this week. Mercury is the ruling planet of Virgo, so the planet is especially strong here– meaning that words, thoughts, and perceptions are sharp. Information is flying quickly because Mercury, the fastest planet in the zodiac, is moving at top speed again. It will pass through the entire sign of Virgo in just over two weeks, signalling a rapid-fire process of verbal and mental exchange. This Virgo energy is naturally inclined to improvement and clarity– the energy strives for an ideal of perfection, while getting down to work in the physical reality. We are sorting through the mess and identifying the flaws. The shadow area here is that fault-finding and debilitating self-criticism can overwhelm the nervous system, closing us in to a box of fear and anxiety where we don’t feel strong enough to help, don’t feel competent, and don’t feel like there’s hope that things will get better.DSC03352 (2)

Two larger aspects occur over the next two weeks, during this waxing lunar cycle as we go from Sunday’s New Moon in Virgo to the next Full Moon on September 24th. Jupiter forms a sextile (a 60 degree angle) with Pluto on the 12th, and Mars makes its final of three squares to Uranus on the 18th. The volcanic eruptions seem to be detonating everywhere, in small personal ways and in the larger picture. We have a choice in this astrology: we can run away, returning to the same ways we have dealt with challenge in the past OR we can run toward the problem, resolving to admit what we’re afraid of and to ask for help. Pride and jealousy are major forces churning up activity. To fight against that wave, we need to look to the high road of Virgo– in a word, HUMILITY.

We are more capable than we think we are. Count on that. I found a great article about humility in The New York Times, written in 2013 by Tony Schwartz. In it, he discusses the mistake we make when we confuse ‘humility’ with ‘humiliation’. Schwartz writes, “But genuine humility is a reflection of neither weakness nor insecurity. Instead, it implies a respectful appreciation of the strengths of others, a lack of personal pretension and a more relaxed sense of confidence that doesn’t require external recognition. In a complex world that so plainly and painfully defies answers, humility is also an antidote to overconfidence. It gives leaders permission to accept and acknowledge their limitations, to learn from them and continue to grow and evolve… I don’t need to say out loud that I value confidence and strength. I do need to demonstrate that I also value humility and vulnerability– to embrace these opposites. In the end, the less time we spend protecting our own value, the more time we can spend creating value in the world.”

The more that we can drop old pretenses of false strength, the more we can work to improve our lives.  The opportunity offered here is to radically shift from old patterns of self-defense which may be blocking our way forward. We can actually help each other by asking for help ourselves.

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Plug into the Power Source

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word ‘depleted’ as “lessened markedly in quantity, content, power, or value.” The pressure of 2018 is dynamic, but it’s also exhausting– and the energy is wearing all of us down. Saturn and Jupiter are serious influences operating in the background, churning up damaged goods from our past and forcing us to take responsibility for what the outer shape of our lives looks like. And then Mars retrograde has us battling within ourselves, struggling with desires, defenses, and attachments that keep us trapped in something we’ve outgrown. There’s a lot to prove to ourselves this year, and that lends a certain heaviness to the atmosphere.

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We all need a break! This week’s Leo New Moon (exact on Saturday morning at 5:58) is a moment of celebration– a reminder of the generosity of spirit that resides in the human heart. Leo embodies the energy of the sun– the heat-giving, life-affirming, magnanimous archetype that shines its light simply because it feels good to do so. Leo is known as the sign of the performer because when someone performs, they risk vulnerability in order to share themselves with an audience. Whenever I talk about Leo during an astrology reading, I relate it to the stand-up comedian who may seem nervous and awkward as they first take the stage. This isn’t egomania or self-absorption– it’s a calling to give their creativity to others, to make the contents of their mind visible for the world to see. So when the comedian cracks the first joke and it’s received and appreciated, the entire room is uplifted– because we love to be entertained and we hold up the people who are willing to do it. DSC03188

The astrology of this new lunar cycle supports us as we recharge our batteries, inviting us to go after joy while the summer sun is still shining. Venus just moved into its home sign Libra, where it loves to be. Beautiful scenes and meaningful connections are pure gold to Libra, who seeks to release tension by finding harmony in relationships and aesthetic pleasure in its environment. Libra and Leo love each other because each sign facilitates enjoyment. And as the Moon joins the Sun in Leo over the weekend, we’re invited to be lifted up by fun, warmth, and laughter. Remind yourself of what you love, and embrace it. We can be bigger than the problems that plague us, especially when we are in it together.

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Mercury is retrograde in Leo, and will make its second of three squares to Jupiter on this New Moon. If a blockage or issue presented itself in your life about a month ago, this weekend may allow a different perspective in, like seeds being planted in a mental garden. Mercury retrograde means that our internal dialogue is louder than normal– and we have the ability to hear creative, generous, vibrant Leo voices that we missed before. Taking the high road is supported by the sheer heat and positive spirit of this fiery nature. Leo the Lion is expansive and brave, and supports inner confidence, allowing us to overcome the minor annoyances that may have stood in our way.

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As the New Moon begins to wax larger in the sky, it will move into Virgo and form an easy trine with Saturn and Uranus, all in earth signs. Next week is relatively quiet, with no major outer planet aspects. And then the Sun shifts into Virgo on August 23, immediately repeating this earth trine with Saturn and Uranus. This is an empowering energy, bringing with it a simple, sweet feeling of effectiveness. The gift of shifting from fire to earth signs is endurance and quality, reminding us that we are capable, competent, and worthy. Overall, this waxing lunar cycle brings a respite from the turmoil, and a time to renew ourselves in the fire of life so that we can feel our feet on solid ground.

Save Our Souls

Being sensitive is risky business these days. As human beings we simply want to feel good, but it’s difficult to do that in light of what is happening on the world stage. How do we restore happiness in the face of life’s darkness? Our basic human values of freedom and family are under attack by insidious forces and we can’t seem to agree who the enemy is. All that we know is that something out there is threatening what is precious to us.

The Sun and Moon meet in Cancer Thursday night at 10:48, marking the New Moon in the cardinal water sign. The term ‘cardinal’ refers to an initiative energy– cardinal signs are the signs of the zodiac that signal a change in seasons. Cancer is incredibly sensitive, seeking to protect and defend the inner privacy it needs to listen to its own feelings. Emotions are one of the most powerful inspirations to action, and Cancer is symbolic of the fiercely protective and endlessly nurturing energy of the Great Mother archetype. By taking care of what is innocent and weak, Cancer fuels its own desire to create a safe space. By taking care of what is in need, Cancer builds a secure nest to tend to. The United States was born under this sign (July 4th birthday), and our country has long been known as a defender of humanitarian rights.

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Artwork by Juliane Harkjær

New Moons are a point in the lunar cycle that support setting intentions, planting metaphorical seeds that we nurture throughout the month. And no other New Moon is as safety-oriented as Cancer. Feeling vulnerable and introverted is natural here as we go inward to figure out what we need. As the Great Mother, Cancer provides us with depth of emotion and a strong sense of the bonds we care about.

But this New Moon is opposed by Pluto in Capricorn, reinforcing fears and overwhelming despair. Pluto represents all the toxic material that must come into the light of consciousness in order to be healed. Its long, slow passage of Capricorn since 2008 has been churning up all that is corrupt in our institutions, particularly government and corporate business. You don’t have to look too far to see examples of this abuse of power rearing its ugly head in our world, especially when it comes to women and families:  immigrant children locked in cages, breastfeeding denigrated by conservative politicians, and abortion rights being threatened by the potential new Supreme Court appointment. The Great Mother (Cancer) is being challenged by the dark face of Pluto, the unconscious greed, racism, and sexism of the patriarchy.

To be fair, the extreme conservative side of the aisle is also feeling this astrology. In their eyes, the dark face of Pluto is represented by other symbols: the increasing number of  minorities in our population, the growing power of the #MeToo movement, and the Mueller investigation. The preservation of the status quo is under threat in their eyes, so the instinctive reaction is to protect and conserve what is precious to them: their power. In order to do that, women and immigrants have to be controlled so that white men feel safe. Astrology reflects universal themes, and the one thing that we can all agree on is that there’s something dangerous “out there” threatening our way of life.

The remedy for fear is brave action. Mars represents how we become brave– and Mars is in the midst of a transformation. It is retrograde and “out of bounds”, meaning that it has reached a point in declination where it’s beyond the Sun’s reach. Mars is closer to the Earth than it has been in 60,000 years. These are powerful astronomical factors that reinforce these themes in our astrology:  we need to engage with what scares us in order to bring light to the darkness. That means standing up to bigotry and harassment, calling out bullies and cheaters. It’s easier to look the other way, to steer clear of trouble. But ask Germans what it felt like right before Hitler took power, and they will tell you they regret being passive. All it takes is indifference, apathy, and self-preservation, and we are on our way to oppression.

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Mother and child confronting Scott Pruitt.

The heroes are within us, and they are ready to march. Think of the woman (with a baby on her arm!) who confronted EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, telling him he should be ashamed of himself for his environmental policies. That takes courage to do that publicly, face to face. The woman who climbed the base of the Statue of Liberty to bring attention to the immigration crisis, literally risking her own life to get into the headlines. The Arkansas mothers who were arrested on Capitol Hill for protesting family separation. All of them– heroes. And so are we, every time we refuse to sit back and look the other way. We need to do this now, in our own families and communities, and we need to continue doing it all the way to the voting booths in November.

We all embody the Great Mother at this New Moon, and instead of running from the darkness, we need to run toward it. If you feel fear in your life, this is the time to claim your power back. We only get braver by facing what scares us. And we’re getting an added boost of support this month as Venus moves into a trine with Saturn and Uranus. A trine is basically a triangle, and it represents an easy, stable flow of energy. This trine involves all three earth signs– Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Earth energy can build things in the material plane. Earth signs are pragmatic, realistic, and diligent; reinforcing our ability to get down to business, stand our ground, and make a tangible difference.Screenshot 2018-07-12 09.55.59

Simply stated, all we need to do is act and speak from our conscience. Stay engaged, stay supportive, and listen to our conscience. We need to save our children and our earth from the darkness that looms. Every small step we take in our microcosm of life affects the greater whole, even if it doesn’t seem to relate. Maybe it isn’t marching in a protest or calling a senator– maybe it’s a quiet action, like not laughing at the office clown telling racist jokes. Speaking up when the loudmouth bully trashes female politicians. Let’s prove that integrity can’t be suppressed. Just keep caring, and keep showing it.

Conscience is the voice of the soul.  (Polish proverb)

Up Close and Personal with Mars

There’s a lot going on in the sky these days, just like here on Earth. As above, so below, as the saying goes.

For starters, today is the start of a new lunar cycle, as the Moon meets up with the Gemini Sun in the zodiac. And this New Moon feels charged with activity, since we’re also on the brink of the summer solstice– when the Sun moves into the sensitive waters of Cancer, which occurs June 21st. This time of year is symbolic of a “high tide” sensation, where nature seems supportive and people are out and about. The gift of Cancer is the ability to get in touch with our own needs, tuning into how we can care for our sense of connection to our lives. Self-care and time for enjoyment are primal to summer because the Cancer Sun shines its light on our need for a healthy heart, to feed the inner child. We recharge through contact with others, renewing ourselves outdoors in the sun and fresh air.

The 2018 summer season will be colored by Mars retrograde, which is exact from June 26th through August 27th. Mars goes retrograde every two years, but this time it’s unique. While retrograde, Mars will also be in a condition called ‘out of bounds’, meaning that it has reached a point of latitude out in space where it is symbolically out of the reach of the Sun. In essence, it has gone into the wild, where it is unbound by constraint. And added to that is the fact that Mars will be as close to Earth as it has gotten in 60,000 years (except once in 2003). We will actually be able to see Mars rise in the east at sunset this summer, shining its red light in the night sky.

This is a supercharged Mars that will be impacting our lives for the next few months, as it retrogrades from Aquarius to Capricorn. And the fact that we can witness it with our eyes seems to heighten the power in the collective consciousness. Mars is the planet of self-assertion. It teaches us courage– and we can’t become braver without facing things that scare us. Stress, fear, apprehension, laziness, self-indulgence: all serve to hold us back, in stillness. Mars gives us the power to engage, to act, to initiate. But as it moves retrograde, the usual outward momentum of Mars is turned inward. It may feel frustrating, especially if we feel resistance against us as we enforce our will. But the purpose of the retrograde cycle is to become aware of what we’re defending ourselves from. Questioning our conditioning, what we define as ‘normal’, and how we express and defend our power is the healing work here.

Because Mars is conjoining the Moon’s South Node, the karmic past is coming up for healing. The shadow of Aquarius is detachment and intellectual superiority. We need to watch out for where we are just walking away, disengaging from social groups and friends. There can be good reason to withdraw with Mars retrograde– like redefining strategies for personal happiness and healing the shadow of guilt, shame, and anger. Stepping back to observe our instinctual reactions to intense emotions, impatience, and aggression is healthy. But doing it with apathy and judgment is the danger here, so be aware of behavioral patterns that are actually just outdated defense mechanisms. This summer is a powerful time of healing the inner warrior, freeing up space from past battles that may or may not have been fought.

 

 

 

 

When the Earth Shakes

People say that nothing shocks them anymore, but I doubt that’s true. Even the most adventurous and liberated among us have a fundamental need to feel grounded in their lives, with a tiny bit of understanding of what’s going on and what to expect from their daily routines. And then we have cycles of history like the one we’re currently experiencing, where the wild, bizarre, and often explosively violent waves keep crashing relentlessly against the shore of the collective culture. We are just so conditioned to live in this state of frantic stress that we’ve lost the ability to stop and stand still. And that, somehow, is eroding our sense of actual time and place. IMG_1349 (2)

The Sun is moving into the last stretch of Taurus territory, awaiting its monthly date with the Moon. The Taurus New Moon occurs at 7:48 on Tuesday morning, May 15th. This energy involves security and maintaining solid ground– all of those things that are seemingly so difficult to get a handle on these days. Getting in touch with financial and emotional self-worth issues are vital here because Taurus wants to feel comfortable, steady, and serene.  This New Moon is a powerful time to consider where inner confidence is lacking, which can sometimes be related to money and sex– as they reflect how worthy we feel of earning and maintaining what we desire. It’s a fresh cycle, a moment of intention where something can be born out of our intuitive function, planting new seeds that involve healing how good we feel about who we are and what we have.

But a larger cycle of change also begins on the Taurus New Moon; and that’s the shift of the planet Uranus. Uranus is far away from the Sun, which means that it moves slowly through the zodiac, taking about 7 years to transit one sign. Uranus represents the innovative and radical element of life that shakes up the status quo and forces humanity toward the next level of evolution. Uranus was discovered in 1781, and 60 years later Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were born, who would invent electricity—the technological breakthrough that ushered in the Industrial Revolution. The entire world paradigm changed with electricity—and so did all the problems that global progress and technology brought with it. (Coincidentally, Frankenstein was also written during this era, in 1817– based on the idea of man’s technological invention becoming an out-of-control monster.)

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Uranus is the rebel of the zodiac, the Great Awakener, that shocks us out of our comfort zones. But it also liberates us from the conformity of just going along with tradition. There’s a genius streak that may be weird and volatile, but challenges us to liberate beyond the need to fit in with the normal way of doing things. It entered Aries back on March 11, 2011. That was the day that a massive earthquake hit Japan, causing a tsunami that destroyed the nuclear power plant Fukushima. During these past 7 years of its transit of Aries, we’ve seen both the high and low roads of expression of this astrology. Aries is the warrior energy—characterized by asserting the self, meeting obstacles head-on in a forceful and brave way. Conquering fear. But the shadow side of the courage is extreme anger and belligerent violence, where “might makes right.”

On May 15th, Uranus movies into security-oriented Taurus. The sign that needs calm, serenity, and peace. So we’re entering a new phase of innovation. It’s a time of rebellion against conforming—especially when it comes to our bodies, and redefining our reality in all that makes us safe and comfortable. It’s time to challenge the routine ways we care for our body and our self-worth. This is the beginning of a seven year revolution regarding how we feel sustained by the physical world around us and the skin we wear.

And on a larger scale, humanity will be forced into a new paradigm as far as the sustainability of the earth. Conservation efforts, corporate pollution, fracking, plastic in the ocean—all of these things must be faced, and hopefully we’ll see some of that “Uranian” ingenuity on larger scale. (Interesting that Kim Jung-Un and Trump are scheduled to meet just as Uranus is switching signs. I have a feeling it has more to do with personal wealth than world peace, though.) Whatever the case, we will not be able to continue on in the way we have been, because the planet Uranus always shakes us out of our former way of looking at things.

Change of Pace

Fear is the main factor. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made that statement last night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She was referring to a worldwide rise in fascism in Syria, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Venezuela, and the Philippines– but the connection to the United States is clear. She explained that when people feel economically insecure, they seek out a political strongman that they believe will set things right, and will make them safe and powerful again. That leader identifies strongly with one group, and pits himself against the other group, creating a social divide and an atmosphere of intolerance and bigotry.

Courage is only acquired when we face things that scare us. Aries, the first sign of the zodiac, is symbolic of this courage. Wherever Aries is in our natal chart points to an area in our lives where we must push forward into the unknown, branching out from the safety of our private shell. The Sun is currently in Aries, moving towards slow-moving Uranus. And the Moon is going to join in the party on Friday, heading towards its monthly conjunction with the Sun for the Aries New Moon, exact at 9:57 Sunday night.

This New Moon is a bit wild. Not only is it in Aries, a sign that cannot be restrained from doing what it wants, but it’s connected to rebellious, erratic, unpredictable Uranus. Uranus refuses to follow the rules– there’s a need to change things up, to break out of boring routines and shock the system. This is a great time to initiate a brand new idea, especially if it pushes you out of your comfort zone and toward something that you’ve been wanting to pursue, but rationalized all the reasons why you “can’t”.

The waxing lunar cycle continues next week with the Sun’s shift into earth sign Taurus on Thursday, April 19. If we’ve implemented powerful changes in our lives, the solid energy of Taurus the Bull is exactly what we need to sustain them. This energetic shift in the month’s astrology helps to ground down some of the frantic and strange chaos that seems to be permeating the social landscape, here and around the globe. But the calm and serenity that is at the heart of Taurus cannot be attained without our effort this time around. This waxing lunar phase culminates with Mars, the God of War, meeting up with Pluto, the God of the Underworld on April 26, just 3 days before the next Full Moon.

The conjunction of Mars and Pluto is not ominous, despite their mythological titles. But it warns us of the potential danger ahead. When we engage our inner warrior (Mars) in a healthy way, we make an impact. Mars is passion and power, and without it, we would be ghosts. Pluto corresponds to everything that has ever wounded us– and our ability to be transformed by it. Pluto is intensity and purpose, and without it, again, we would be ghosts–  walking through our lives as if it were a movie, not engaged or driven at all.

These planets have a high road, and their union in Capricorn is symbolic of all the abuses of power in our political, industrial, social systems. It’s not hard to see the shit hitting the fan in this regard. But the question is, what can we do about it? The low road is always an option– and as I mentioned, these planets pack a punch. Violent anger and destructive behavior based on corrupted values– that’s another possibility. We can continue hating the enemy, if we choose. But then we have only one path ahead: war.

In each of our own lives, this evolutionary powerhouse of a conjunction is coming.  Have that long, hard talk with yourself about what you fear and hate.  Know your own biases and prejudices. And be willing to make a huge change. Because there is no escaping Pluto. Pluto is the psychological heaviness we carry, and when we face it honestly, we become stronger, freer, and more alive than we were before. So the moral of the story is: work on your stuff, or your stuff will work on you.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

 

 

 

 

 

The Eye of the Storm

It’s hard to keep up with everything going on these days. A sense of urgency has been permeating the atmosphere, symbolized in astrological terms by Mercury and Venus joining erratic Uranus in Aries. And after Saturday’s New Moon, first the Moon and then the Sun will enter the first sign of the zodiac too, marking the Vernal Equinox and the start of spring.

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March 2018 Nor’easter, Salisbury, Massachusetts

A fresh new season.. sort of. While we begin this new lunar cycle, we’re working with some tension that points to cleaning up the mess left over from winter before we can truly spring ahead. All of this planetary weight in Aries means that courage and boldness are required of us, but the challenge  is drawing the line between assertiveness and aggression.

Aries is quick to make decisions, but when that strength goes off the rails, there can be a headstrong and resolute intolerance for compromise. Mercury stations retrograde from March 23 – April 15, which means that despite the direct and somewhat impatient nature of Aries, we have to slow down and check where we’re at. And that can feel frustrating to the incisive power of this fire sign.

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March 2018 Nor’easter, Salisbury, Massachusetts

Patience is not easy to come by this month. Mars, the ruler of Aries, shifts into Capricorn this weekend, followed by the Sun’s move into Aries on Tuesday, March 20. They will start moving into a square with each other, exact on the First Quarter Moon on March 23. We’re feeling the pressure to be getting things done, working hard and having an impact. But with Mercury in retrograde, the forward momentum is likely to need more planning and maturity. The limits of reality can bring up feelings of anger, rebellion, and harsh judgments as we struggle against something that feels bigger than us. Like the weather here in New England– it can be exhausting.

The higher ground of all of this incoming astrology is the dedication and drive available to make choices and get things done. Potent reserves of resilience and vitality lie at the heart of these squares between the planets in Aries and the planets in Capricorn. Just beware of the severity and intensity in the atmosphere as well! These signs need to remember self-love and kindness, so be mindful of burning or lashing out.

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