Know Better

I did then what I knew how to do.

Now that I know better, I do better.

-Maya Angelou

I’m writing this blog post at 3 p.m. on the day of the 2018 Midterm Elections in the United States, without knowing the outcome of this volatile political season. I wanted to write this first, to try to unpack the changes in the cosmic scenery during this Scorpio New Moon (exact at 11:02 a.m. on Wednesday, November 7), without trying to integrate that astrology with the headlines that will start rolling in after polls close tonight.

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Old Town Hill, Newbury, MA

The message is clear; we need to restore our vitality, to practice a higher standard of care for ourselves and our neighbors. The world is depleted, and this planetary shift signals a need for spiritual healing and repairing our ideals. Let’s look at some important themes in the sky, focusing on 4 big aspects that will be affecting us immediately.

  • Jupiter enters Sagittarius on November 9
  • Uranus retrograde re-enters Aries on November 6
  • Nodes of the Moon shift signs on November 15
  • Venus stations direct; Mercury stations retrograde on November 16

Jupiter’s entry into Sagittarius fires up the heat in our expansive side– bringing with it the potential for renewed enthusiasm and the expression of pent-up energy, like the wild horse finally being let out of confinement to run free. While Jupiter transited the deep waters of Scorpio (since October 2017), the penetrating and scrutinizing nature of Scorpio has been blown up by Jupiter’s enhancing effect, creating a mood of suspicion, with complex emotional motivations coming to the surface in extreme ways. It was necessary for us to purge secrets hidden in our unconscious– heavy, serious stuff we didn’t want to deal with before. And Scorpio gave us the depth to deal. Now we’ll begin to feel a need to stretch, to move beyond what we’ve been wrestling with for so long, to let the brightness of Sagittarius warm the shadowy areas we’ve been prodding through.

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Old Town Hill, Newbury, MA

Jupiter is the planetary ruler of Sagittarius– so this is a strong energy to harness in your own life. Dreaming up your future, traveling, learning from foreign people, moving beyond what is familiar, experiencing the extraordinary, breaking from routine… all of these are under the Jupiter/Sagittarius umbrella. Where is your soul desperate to say ‘yes’, desperate to break free from emotional restraints and old patterns of fear? This is where Jupiter can help instill faith, optimism, and the unflinching belief that life is worth living.

Astrological Disclaimer: Jupiter in Sagittarius is full of hot air!

Of course, it’s always important to remember the shadow side of Sagittarius: FOOLISHNESS and HASTE. Jupiter in Sagittarius is hungry for knowledge and understanding, meaning that we are all going to want to feel more sure of ourselves. In human terms, that means we get more swept up in our own opinions and philosophies, and less willing to listen to the perceptions of others, especially if their views contradict our own. This will be especially true while Mercury is retrograde later this month in Sagittarius (more on that later), but take any grand plans with a grain of salt– get advice from trustworthy, rational sources and use this energy to refuel your imagination and inspiration, rather than taking unnecessary risks and wasting valuable effort. Explore and engage, but don’t bet the house.

Moving on to the next planetary transition: Uranus retrogrades back into Aries for the next 4 months, turning direct again in January and eventually completing an almost 8-year transit of Aries in March 2019. The slow-moving planets are subtle in their overall emotional impact, but shockingly emblematic of historical phases that we experience on earth. During its cycle in Aries since 2011, Uranus has brought fierce independence, radical breaks from suppression, unexpected reactivity, nationalism, and explosive violence to the forefront of consciousness.

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November Trees

We have a final push of this energy through the upcoming winter, and an opportunity to make significant changes based on the trauma we’ve endured. Aries is the warrior, symbolized by the ram. Be brave, not aggressive. Wherever you were feeling your courage weaken, reclaim it and defend your right to be different from how you were before. Change is here. Live it in your own life.

And now we add in some self-care reminders. The North and South Node of the Moon are points in the sky that reflect karmic lessons we are here to learn. In our natal chart, the Nodes represent our own karmic story, and the details of the symbols weave together to point to your soul’s purpose– a blueprint towards greater self-awareness, and a tool for achieving a sense of fulfillment. But in the ever-changing sky above, the Nodes of the Moon change signs every 18 months, and we’re about to experience one of these shifts in the astrological landscape. On the First Quarter Moon next Thursday, November 15, the South Node will move into Capricorn, and the North Node will move into Cancer.

We need to take better care of ourselves. Cancer is the sign of the Great Mother, and the North Node shines a guiding light toward what we seek for healing. Our hearts and families, our earth and our spirits need some nurturing. It’s exhausting to continue on, alone, stoic, and hardened to the callous anger we’ve endured for so long. The South Node is beating the gong that’s already been ringing from Saturn and Pluto in this reality-based earth sign, Capricorn. All the garbage of Capricorn is coming up for reconciliation– patriarchy, greed, pollution, sexism, abuse of power, institutional corruption– but in order to rip up the roots, we need to tend a new garden. Build with care, and nourish yourself and your body. It’s time to stop proving our toughness, and instead be proud of our ability to care for our own needs.

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Old Town Hill, Newbury, MA

And how’s this for a double whammy? Venus ends its 40-day retrograde cycle on Friday morning, November 16, at 5:50 a.m. EST. And later that day, at 8:33 p.m., Mercury stations retrograde for the following 3 weeks, until December 6. It’s like they’re handing off batons in some bizarre planetary relay race. This Mercury retrograde is a wild one because it’s also out of bounds, an astrological condition that means that it’s out of the normal path of the planets– it has reached a point in latitude out in space that is out of the Sun’s reach.

Mercury is retrograde, out of bounds, in the extroverted sign Sagittarius, and in a square with Neptune, god of the ocean. We’re not on solid ground during this phase, which is strongest from November 9 – 22. It’s intuitively ingenious, artistically creative, and unexpectedly fun. But confusion and wishful thinking is fogging up the atmosphere. Venus retrograde has really re-oriented our values in relationship issues. Things are tender here, where we’ve dealt with some self-scrutiny and the dissection of close personal bonds and attitudes. Now we’re getting a Mercury-induced mental storm of “what if’s” and “could be’s” that can get us so far off track that we end the year way behind where we wanted to be.

My advice is to think extravagantly and act humbly. We deserve to go into the holiday season with a cheery heart, but this astrology can get us so worked up and over-extended that we forget where our priorities are.

Bravado is a danger, as Jupiter excites us with possibility and exaggerates our reach. Impatience is high with Jupiter and Mercury (retrograde and out of bounds) in Sagittarius. Uranus is back in the sign of the warrior, stirring up self-righteous defenses. Jupiter, Uranus, and Mercury are all in fire signs, creating a self-expressive vibe in the  population. It can be hard to reel it all back in once this energy is released– this is a charged scene, where firecrackers will likely be easy to light.

At a fundamental karmic level, we all need to care for our own sensitivity, which we may likely be denying. The chronic need to be “tough enough” has run its course. Fierce action will distort our intentions, making us come across to others as misguided or unhinged. The noble path right now is toward self-care, softness, and sensitivity, which will guide us to a better way of being and doing. Re-invent your vision of your future, and take care of the inner harsh critics that need to lighten up their mood.

Get imaginative and restore your hope.

Know, and do, better.

Interested in an astrology reading? Read more here!

 

 

 

Coming Clean

Time flies when life is busy. And when Mercury is moving in retrograde motion, which it has been since Jan. 5th, there can be a strange or out-of-sync quality to our thought and action. The Sun and Mercury have both been in productive and disciplined Capricorn, which is typically helpful in remaining focused on goals and plans we resolved to work toward in the new year. But Mercury’s quirky retrograde movement can play tricks on us, frustrating progress with breakdowns and miscommunication. And while in Capricorn, these frustrations relate to autonomy and self-respect.sunflowers b&w

The Sun shifted into Aquarius on Wednesday, opening up our awareness from the bounds of reality to a more free-thinking, independent and somewhat irreverent energy. As the weekend continues, the Moon in Leo will reach an opposition with the Aquarius Sun, forming a Full Moon at 8:46 p.m. EST  tomorrow. This planetary aspect brings up issues regarding where we walk our own walk and where we fit in with others. The Leo Moon really craves affection and attention, but the opposite quality represented by Aquarius– needing space and freedom to be unique and different– can sometimes create some conflict. There’s a strong potential for dramatic self-expression with this intensely personal Full Moon as it urges us to be authentic and present ourselves as we truly are, rather than remaining within the bounds of the structures of our lives.

Meanwhile, Mercury is slowing down to a standstill (from our earthly point of view), lingering at about 15 degrees of Capricorn all weekend long before it finally starts moving direct again Monday afternoon. That means Mercury is exactly at the same degree as powerful Pluto, digging deep into ages of history and buried memories. This conjunction happened first on Dec. 20 when Mercury was moving forward through Capricorn, now Mercury has backed up to the same point as Pluto and will form one last exact conjunction on Jan. 30. This planetary phase has forced a lot of old baggage up to our awareness, asking us to sort through some things we’ve been keeping in a closet for years, maybe even lifetimes. It can feel uncomfortable– Capricorn has a serious tone to it in some ways, and Pluto is the planet that disintegrates and rebuilds. So this is a major “breaking down” time where we may all see some bleak or heavy stuff about ourselves.

The nice thing about this astrology is that it empowers us to see more clearly. With the buzz of the holidays over, and the stress of the new year “to do” list calming down, we have a minute or two this weekend to get centered in our life in the present. It’s a good time to focus on what brings you real joy (Moon in Leo) and freedom to be honest, regardless of how strange or unexpected that may be (Sun in Aquarius). If there are qualifications to those things– if you find you’re maintaining the way things have always been, or behaving the way people expect you to behave, the planets are on your side to break away from these ingrained patterns. Mercury will be front and center all weekend long, urging us to bring what is buried up to a conscious level in order to move above and beyond it.

 

Fuel in the Fire

Philosophers have long explored the human struggle between right and wrong. The venerated book, the Tao Te Ching, includes a quote by Chinese sage Lao Tzu; “Without darkness, there can be no light.” Since the species first crawled out of our ancient caves, we’ve been trying to make sense of good and bad, happiness and pain. We’ve developed incredible stories of punishing and rewarding gods, all judging us for living along some sort of moral guidelines.

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Today the Sun shifted into airy Gemini, the same sign as Mercury is in, moving retrograde and making things a little erratic and strange. Typically the solar move into Gemini comes with a social lightness, a feeling of movement and inquisitiveness where the heaviness of normal reality is a little more interesting because our curiosity is a piqued by new contacts and new possibilities. But Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, isn’t communicating clearly. When Mercury goes retrograde, we have to slow down and rethink things. We have to take extra time to do things correctly because often the details are not quite right. Traffic, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings… all force us to redo what we tried to do the first time.

But there’s more on our astrological plates right now, and it isn’t just Mercury retrograde (which continues until June 11). Venus is passing through self-protective Cancer, and is getting a bit worked up by some larger outer planetary energies. Venus opposed mythic Lord of the Underworld Pluto today, and will square destabilizing Uranus on Monday. Venus in Cancer is a domestic sweetheart, urging us to tend to our need for comfort and security. During this transit of maternal and cautious Cancer, Venus can help us value those little personal things that make our lives more enjoyable– people, pets, places, foods. But there’s also a potential for some touchiness, like we want to remain private and secure in our little bubble. And Pluto and Uranus are not going to let that happen.

Pluto and Uranus shake us out of our comfort zone because otherwise we would remain stagnant. That’s where the so-called “darkness” comes in. Often the things that propel us to make change, to move forward, to stop the cycle– are not warm and fuzzy. It may be an extreme loss or failure that forces us out of a routine, but it can also be as small as a frustration with someone we trusted. And all of a sudden we see ourselves differently. The world is unfamiliar. It may seem like a negative thing hit us, but that’s because we’re human beings and we seek the familiar and the safe. And life is not always that way. We are human, and we get angry. We sulk, we say mean things, we lie, cheat, and steal. And we are not monsters. But it’s part of us.

So this next week or so, while defensiveness and vulnerability issues may surface in somewhat unexpected ways, try to remember that there is nothing constant except change. And denying the darkness in ourselves or others only leads to isolation and blame. Nothing is black and white, and the darkness (regardless of how minimal or vast) never lasts forever. The message of this astrology is to release past emotional entanglements, things that hold us back in patterns of history and family tradition. We can use this to expand our view of the brilliant light ahead.

 

 

Making Some Space – the Aquarius New Moon

The Sun enters Aquarius early Tuesday morning, Jan. 20, followed by the Moon just a few hours later. Their conjunction at 8:13 a.m. EST is symbolic of turning a new page, at least in an intellectual sense. Other planetary factors in the astrological forecast of the next few days are reminders to withhold judgement and remain internally centered.

Aquarius is an interesting sign, one that is often categorized as both aloof and independent, as well as humanitarian and democratic. It describes an airy intelligence that can often see the big picture, but is sometimes a little detached from personal interactions– like the person who is so busy posting pictures of their vacation on Facebook that they forget to enjoy the exotic beach they’re photographing. One of the blessings and curses of Aquarius is the sense of living in one’s own head. There can be brilliant theories and ideas brewing when Aquarius is strong, particularly when it comes to improving groups or organizations. This lunation is a pivotal planning moment, where we may have a keen sense of insight about what would work best for us. Maybe even what would work best for everyone.

The wrench in the works here is a pair of diffusive transits that can make the clearest insight seem incomprehensible. Mars and Neptune will form a conjunction Monday night, marking this New Moon phase with a sensitive, empathetic, and impressionable softness. Mars, the planet of action and assertion, is spaced out around watery Neptune in its home sign Pisces. This is a great influence for any creative endeavor, and is hugely inspirational for artistic and spiritual expression. It can also lower our boundaries with other people. So on the positive side, there’s compassion and acceptance in the air; on the down side, perceptions are a bit cloudy.

Adding to that Neptunian blur, we have Mercury slowing down to a halt, about to turn retrograde on Wednesday through Feb. 11. When Mercury goes retrograde, we have to slow down and reassess what we’re doing. In work, home, and personal life– this is a time when things just naturally seem to come back to us to be fixed or revised. There’s a bit of strangeness in the atmosphere when Mercury crawls along, since it normally travels swiftly. Our thought processes, communication, technology– all of it can be a little odd. Not necessarily wrong, just not normal. The 3-week retrograde is a time to clarify the course you are set on, and to tie up loose ends or cut off extra baggage before moving forward again next month.

The planets seem to be urging us to stay open-minded. If we get too attached to our own opinions or perceptions, we may miss the possibility of something even better. The supportive 60 degree angle from Saturn to this Aquarius New Moon implies that there’s work to be done by each of us to create a more tolerant and cooperative world. It may be small or large scale– it can be as simple as not holding a grudge. There are many people in the news and in our media who push the extremes of negativity, and it can feel as if we have no power to stop them. Hell, we meet those people driving on the highways, in our jobs, on the bus. That’s a shadow side of Mars/Neptune– feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and seeking escape. But maybe this New Moon is a second chance at resolutions, a time to check in internally and decide what we can improve on.

 

 

Putting Plans in Action

We are getting a litte astrological boost to get things done this week, which may come as a relief to those of us scattered by the Mercury retrograde phase that has colored the month of October. Mercury retrograde can make things weird. Not necessarily frustrating, but often a little wacky. It’s as if it’s not as easy to get from point A to point B, either literally or metaphorically. Maybe it takes more effort to communicate clearly, or it takes more time to get where you are going. The gift of any Mercury retrograde is the opportunity for reevaluation. When we are compelled to slow down, whether because of obstacles in our way or misunderstanding that must be corrected, we get a chance to be more careful. We get the chance to fix problems we missed before, or to redirect the course we are on. To put it simply, Mercury retrograde makes us stop and think.

The retrograde ended on Saturday, when Mercury stationed direct in the sign Libra. It’s moving slowly right now, but will continue picking up speed this week and will be chugging along at it’s usual clip in no time. In just over a week, Mercury will join the Sun and Venus in Scorpio. We can make a lot of progress moving toward what we want with all of that dynamic energy, but there is something demanding that we be honest and direct in our strategy to get there. This is not the time for bullshitting people with false praise or passive aggressive approaches.

Mars just moved into Capricorn on Sunday, amping up this mood of gritty determination. Mars is symbolic of action and assertion, and it works really well in Capricorn. They suit each other. Capricorn likes to get things accomplished, and Mars is effective and ambitious here. And again, very straightforward. We will make more progress when we speak and act directly. With Mercury moving direct again, and Mars in Capricorn, there’s a clarity of purpose available to us, and a steady motivation us to get where we want to go.