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.


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.







We’ve made it to the final lunar cycle of winter– just about 4 weeks until the start of spring! Soon we’ll put an end to the months of driving on ice and dressing in layers, returning to the warm and bright half of the year on the Vernal Equinox on March 20th. Here we go, into the season of Pisces–  the final sign of the zodiac and a point of reconciliation and recovery before we start a new astrological year.


During my Full Moon audio forecast, I talked about a group of planets in Aquarius (Venus, Mercury, and the Sun) forming squares to Jupiter in Scorpio throughout the first half of February. This urged us to consider our lives from an independent, detached perspective– to question where we feel disengaged from our own authenticity because we’re only doing things to fulfill the expectations of others.  These tense 90 degree angles from Jupiter in Scorpio pushed us to sort through our own compulsive ways of behaving, hopefully leading us to be more honest, even if only with ourselves.

As February continues, these planets move from Aquarius to Pisces. Venus has led the way, moving into Pisces on Feb 10th, and Mercury and the Sun will follow on Feb 17th and 18th, respectively. There’s a shift here from the intellectual perception of Aquarius to the subjective emotional world of Pisces, so where we were lost in a world of thought before, now we are more likely to be swimming in the waters of feeling. Pisces is the part of our natal charts that is always longing for something else. Longing is part of our condition as humans. That’s why Pisces is said to be a compassionate, spiritual, and creative sign– because being kind and loving, or inspired and charitable, is simply a means to overcome the ego identity. It helps us lose the voice in our heads that always wants more, that’s constantly judging the moment as not good enough. When we are lost in the moment, whether through service, love, or art– we don’t hear that nagging, critical voice of need.

So this waxing New Moon cycle, from now until the end of the month, is an increasing tide of energy flowing into this softer realm of Pisces. It’s likely to have a calming and diffusing effect on our forward motion. We may find reality more confusing because Pisces blurs the hard edges of those clear boundaries we made in Aquarius. Suddenly the driving force of Aquarius (the need to be fully aware of oneself as an individual) has switched gears into this more accepting, forgiving, and understanding passivity of Pisces.rose in sand enlargement

But what do we do with this energy? Whenever Pisces is activated, there’s the potential for escapism and avoidance. And that’s the challenge during these final weeks of winter, as restlessness and impatience start creeping in. It’s easier to give up on any sort of accountability or productivity because there’s this longing to get away from reality and the limits of the ego world. Pisces wants to transcend boundaries by connecting to laughter and pleasure and enlightenment. Or red wine and chocolate cake. Pisces intrinsically knows there’s much more to life than what we see in the regular world, and that longing for some divine contentment can be overwhelmingly attractive. At the lower end of expression, addiction dwells in Pisces too. Because at the heart of it, to be human is to want to feel good.

The high road of this astrology is the potential to be better people at the basic level of kindness. Softer edges in the way we perceive each other leads to less divisiveness. Opinions aren’t so dogmatic because Pisces knows everything is fluid and everything changes. If we’re only committed to serving our own needs and getting ahead of competition, these next 2 weeks will feel frustrating, no matter how hard we work. But if we choose to act in a  wiser, more inclusive and compassionate way, we can ride this wave into a healthier new spring season. Maturity and dedication to improvement are the gifts of this waxing lunar cycle, carrying us to the Virgo Full Moon on March 1st. Enjoy the rest of February!


Choosing Love this New Moon

And this simply means this: that within the best of us, there is some evil, and within the worst of us, there is some good. When we come to see this, we take a different attitude toward individuals. The person who hates you most has some good in him; even the nation that hates you most has some good in it; even the race that hates you most has some good in it. And when you come to the point that you look in the face of every man and see deep down within him what religion calls “the image of God,” you begin to love him in spite of.   — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we honor the memory of MLK in this country, but his teachings remain a struggle for us, a nation polarized by constant divisions in opinions and beliefs. This is also the last day of this lunar cycle, the dark night of the Moon in Capricorn. Tomorrow’s New Moon occurs in the last degrees of Capricorn, signalling a shift in astrological influences toward the next sign of the zodiac– the fixed air sign, Aquarius. The idealistic and humanitarian nature of Aquarius links us to what the United States was founded on, and the very values that seem to plague us today. For we are not a country where every man and woman are equal, and we don’t necessarily honor every person’s right to the pursuit of happiness.

King often spoke of love and understanding as the key to peace in our country. But loving an enemy seems impossible when hatred, fear, and disappointment are parts of human experience. Especially now, where it feels like there’s something evil out there, something that is disgusting about our world, making us even more cynical, guarded, and judgmental. This is indicative of a larger symptom, a downward spiral that has gotten us to this point in history. And a lot of us are hoping that 2018 will help lift us out of this toxicity, will show the way to heal this disconnect between what we know to be right and what we see in our reality. Racism, sexism, competition, and jealousy have undermined our ability to trust, and we need to work together in order to mend the wounds. But how do we do that, in actual terms?

I think the answer has to start inside our own heads. Much of this new lunar cycle has to do with the connection between head and heart. The Sun and Moon meet in Capricorn at 9:17 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16th, and then both the Moon and Venus will move into Aquarius on Wednesday, followed by the Sun on Friday. The season of Aquarius brings in an air of freedom and open-mindedness, where the more controlled nature of Capricorn loosens its firm grip and gets a little weird and rebellious. Aquarius embraces individuality and independence, but also honors the equal rights of others to their own individuality and independence. It corresponds to the universal love and acceptance that is the core of any internal peace and spirituality, when our emotional body interacts with our higher mind, and we intrinsically know that every person has the same right to be happy and free.

This sort of universal love comes from the heart chakra, or Anahata in Sanskrit, located in the very center of the chest, and is active and healthy when we are feeling loved, secure, and accepting of others as they are. Just like yoga, this is a practice– we choose to actively engage the heart chakra, or we choose not to exercise it. Making a commitment to forgive and accept ourselves is a central part of this practice, because we can’t give and receive outwardly if we can’t give that compassion to ourselves internally. And that choice between love and hate is where the head comes into the picture, as Mercury, symbol of our mind and perception, gets active in January’s waxing lunar cycle astrology.

Mercury will form intense aspects with Pluto, Jupiter, and Uranus over the coming two weeks while it speeds through Capricorn, energizing the mental buzz during the rest of the month. Our minds are powerful catalysts for change. As we head toward the second Supermoon on January 31st, Mercury’s activity will likely shake up what we’re talking and thinking about. We have the freedom of choice here to cultivate love or to get caught up in the frenzy of hate. We need to be clear-headed and committed to the ideals of peace and non-judgment in order to heal all that is dragging us down now.

Again, how do we do actually do that? We have to exercise the heart chakra, the basic value of loving self and others as equals on the same path. Every time we feel judged, jealous, or insecure, we need to practice it for ourselves. Every time we feel threatened or frustrated by another person, we need to practice it for them. This waxing moon phase is all about the awareness of choosing love in order to create a healthier perception of the world.








New Year’s Full Moon Astrology

The next few days are really the most spiritual days of the year in our modern culture. People are stepping outside of themselves and setting intentions for the year ahead– looking at what they want to release and considering what they want to draw in. It shows how much we all want the same general things in life: to feel as though we’re happy and making progress in our journey.

2018 begins with a Supermoon, a dramatic entrance into a new year. And the Moon will also be in her home territory, the watery depths of sensitive Cancer– a sign that needs to protect its internal processes from the outside world, just like its symbolic crab. The soft inner nature of Cancer depends on its hard shell of secrecy to keep it safe. Which means we can be in touch with deep insight and intuition during this phase as we listen to what our internal voices are saying to us– but there’s also the chance that we fear defending that privacy from everything outside of us. DSC01826

This nurturing, healing quality of the Moon in Cancer is what 2018 is all about. There’s such a strong feeling of exhaustion in the world right now– we’re weary from the negative energy pressing down on us all the time, the endless onslaught of disgusting human behavior. Humanity is wounded, and we need this Great Mother Moon to start out the new year. This recharges our emotional body with a starting point of love and hope.

But the Moon will make oppositions to Saturn, Venus, and the Sun on the first day of 2018, and this powerful Capricorn influence represents the need to come out of the shell, to effectively bring this healing into the reality of what we do every day. And this touches on a bigger theme of the next few years, as Saturn (slowly) approaches Pluto in Capricorn. In order to fully heal what is going on, we need to accept the darker parts of ourselves and of each other. We tend to judge other people based on factors that we perceive about them– and while it’s true that we may not all be able to get along, the hard edge we create with that judgement ends up shutting us down. When the inner voice is harsh to others, we’re going to hear it too.

Ultimately 2018 is the start of long climb ahead of us, and it’s a powerful moment to commit yourself to authentic wellness. In each of our natal charts, Pluto has been hanging out in Capricorn for about a decade now, unearthing the foundation of the structures of reality. His influence is slow and steady, like erosion on the coastline. It seems barely perceptible until you catch a glimpse of what your life used to be like. Astrologer Stephen Arroyo writes, “Pluto in the individual chart therefore symbolizes the deep-seated psychic impressions resulting from past desires and actions, which now manifest subtly as obsessions and compulsions that have no rational explanation. In other words, the true nature of the original desire is no longer clear to us; yet we are still at the mercy of this inclination, and it often makes us miserable.”

But Saturn is in Capricorn now, and that feeling of helplessness to what makes us miserable is no longer acceptable. Not only is the awareness coming to the surface with Pluto churning up toxic material, but Saturn is getting involved in the game, strengthening our backbone and determination to take responsibility and make things right. Integrity and dignity matter now that Saturn is back in its home sign– we are invited to step into our power and effectiveness in a new way.  The Full Moon in Cancer on New Year’s Day is a symbolic moment of commitment to that better life and better world that we’re all seeking right now, and which we can only create when we take care of each other without blame, shame, and judgement. And that includes the way we talk to ourselves.