Why Should a Modern Astrologer Use Ancient Techniques?

This post is a response to an article I was recently quoted in on Quartz, titled, “Astrology Isn’t Fake, It’s Just Been Ruined by Modern Psychology.” The article stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest inside the astrological community by repeating allegations sometimes leveled at modern astrologers by astrologers using classical methods. Allegations that contain an assumption made by both camps that isn’t entirely true; namely, that modern astrology and classical astrology don’t mix.

However, I’ve found they mix quite well, thank you very much, and I’m going to tell you why.

Classical astrology vs modern astrology

What the article gets right (and it’s worth reading through just for the tale) is that there is a genuine renaissance occurring in the world of astrology right now, and that renaissance is revealing how much we have strayed from our roots, and to our detriment. The recovery of ancient texts and techniques is causing an upheaval in the way astrologers all over the world relate to the craft, to their practice, and to their philosophy of life.

Those of us inside this small but growing community are so thrilled by the way these ancient techniques have transformed our lives that when we meet one another a big part of our conversation will be about what happened to us when we first encountered the traditions. We are obsessed with how it liberated us from old thinking and removed blinders from our eyes. We remember our first experience of it in the way some people remember where they were when Obama was elected or we landed on the moon.

However, it is not true that psychology has “ruined” astrology. Psychology is not only how astrology survived the last century, which the article nods at but doesn’t really explore, but psychology introduced something to astrology that never existed before, at least on such a scale. It introduced the worth of self-examination and compassion for the results of trauma. It introduced the value of exploring and expressing your feelings about things and the idea that while you may not be able to control things that happens to you, you might be able to control how you’re going to be about them. Maybe best of all, it carved out skill sets to help people deal with trauma that have revolutionized the astrological community.

The sad thing is that thus far these two camps frequently find themselves at odds over some basic misunderstandings, slowing the creation and development of astrological study that has only just now become possible. Counseling astrologers in particular would benefit from studying classical techniques, and our clients even more so.

So why is there such a divide between astrologers practicing modern techniques and those practicing classical ones? The larger answer to this question is complicated and frankly involves a fair amount of ego attachment to being right. Astrologers are, after all, human. I’m not even going to attempt to address those divides, which I’m far from mastering myself.

The good news is, I don’t have to. There’s actually a simple and much more compelling reason that modern and classical astrologers find themselves pitted against one another so consistently. The irony is that this divide ought not be a divide at all, but a unifying point.

Fate vs Free Will

The underlying argument between the camps is actually one astrologers have been having since the early beginnings of our profession, centuries ago, in ancient Greece. It’s the most obvious question that astrology poses, which is does fate or free will dictate the events of your life?

The modern mind is generally opposed to the notion that any portion of fate might dictate your circumstances. Our television shows are filled with characters who, like Hamlet, tragically attempt to “take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them.” The most popular shows in the past few decades all take a stab at the tragic Shakespearean hero attempting to weasel out of his fate: The Sopranos, Deadwood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Power, to name but a few. The modern definition of a tragedy isn’t that a piano falls on your head, but rather that – in an attempt to right a wrong – a hero suffers the consequences of his own self destructive actions. The underlying assumption is that if the hero just chose the right method to conquer his fate, he could.

The problem with this thinking is that following quickly on the heels of could is should. In other words, if we have absolute free will than we should be able to take arms against our troubles and by opposing end them. Arguably what tortures Walter White is not that he is a lowly chemistry teacher, but his belief that he shouldn’t be one.

This “should” is something that has no place in a counseling practice, it’s completely unhelpful to someone who has experienced a terrible trauma. Imagine telling someone whose mother died when she was six that those circumstances were, in anyway, her own creation. Any ethical counselor would be disgusted by such a thing. So why then, do so many counseling astrologers rely on techniques which are predicated on the planets being mere projections of our unconscious? Imagine instead using techniques that quickly and accurately describe the harshest facts of your client’s traumas and then using counseling skills to deepen that client’s capacity for self compassion and care.

Because absolute free will utterly contradicts how the ancient mind understood tragedy. Classical Greek tragedies are full of characters who suffer at the hands of capricious Gods and must inevitably surrender to their fates. Their tragedy isn’t that they could overcome their fates, it’s that they couldn’t. I didn’t come up with this comparison on my own, by the way. Any fan of the show The Wire will know how different that show is from other shows on television. The creator, David Simon, says the difference is that he based it on a Greek tragedy rather than a Shakespearean one.

Do the Stars Compel?

So, the essential divide in the astrological community around which techniques to use comes down to this question. Do the planets reflect the inner life of an individual or do the planets reflect the actual circumstances which befall the native? A modern astrologer, steeped mostly in a century’s worth of psychological lore might fall quite hard on the side of the former while an astrologer working with classical techniques might argue firmly for the latter, sometimes to a radical degree.

However this is a debate which has underpinned the entire astrological experiment from the start. Something English speaking astrologers miss is that the Greeks have multiple words for fate that can’t adequately be translated by one simple English word. So while the techniques the Hellenes created (horoscopic astrology sprung from the Hellenic period) often starkly describe circumstances, the actual practice of how these techniques should be used was fiercely debated by different philosophical camps who drew entirely different conclusions. In his treatise, “On Fate,” and later in “Are the Stars Causes?” the Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus lays out the gist of these arguments quite well.

When I was a student at Kepler College, newly exposed to this history, our professors had us mount a debate on whether astrology proved free will or fate using only the ancient texts. Things got so heated that one of the students ended her argument by sticking out her tongue at the opposing team! I remember being on the losing side, fighting for free will and failing miserably.

I started learning traditional methods a year later, after the worst break-up of my life. I was in free fall. I’d started seeing a therapist right away, since the circumstances of the break-up so uncannily recreated the circumstances of a childhood trauma I’d thought I’d long overcome. Studying my chart using these new methods brought about one of the most radically altering episodes of my life. For the first time I saw my lived experiences reflected inside my chart. Not just my “strengths and weaknesses,” or my “potential for transformation,” but my actual, honest to the Gods, experiences. I saw the relationship with the person who hurt me most and how, I saw why I couldn’t let it go, I even saw why this had been so hard to see before!

If I could see all that, then how on earth could there be anything I could have done about it? For the first time astrology offered not just the promise of revelation, but actual revelation itself. Not only were those circumstances not my fault, but they were fated. I didn’t have to resist them, I could surrender. In fact, I had to.

Honestly, it was a relief. A burden was lifted.

It’s a common aphorism that the first stage of grief is denial and that getting through that will release you into healing. But we live in a culture that perpetuates denial. Denial of circumstance, denial of grief, denial of all things dark and unwanted. Jung called this the shadow, and nothing shows where and how those shadows linger the way classical techniques do.

This is, in my opinion, the greatest gift classical techniques offer a counseling astrologer. They allow us to cleanly and clearly state what is so about a person’s trauma and grief. Working with a willing client and using an open, compassionate heart, it is possible to slice through layers of resistance and fear and to enter a place where the drama of the soul is revealed as a sacred contract with the universe. For there is something so extremely strange, as Rob Hand says, about astrology when it is used as a predictive tool. And that strangeness is precisely the razor’s edge where all the magic happens. Why should modern astrologers deny themselves access to this magic? It is, after all, the very thing we long for.

I believe we need to get over our differences as a community and begin to honor the gifts these techniques might bestow if used in tandem. There is a new astrology waiting in the wings for us, if only we might be willing to collaborate and experiment.

Uncharted territory

You see, although I came to traditional methods by way of Kepler College, I came to astrology by way of psychological astrology. And when I started learning the traditional methods, and to understand by their rubric what a mess my chart actually was, it wasn’t classical astrology that came to my aid in the aftermath. It was counseling. It was a classmate at Kepler who explained to me what, exactly, Jung’s theory of projection meant. It was my therapist who didn’t attempt to change my circumstances, but only to help me grieve and understand myself more deeply as a result.

And in the years since as I’ve looked at my chart and many others, I’ve come to believe that few are so suited to classical astrology than counselors who simply know how to listen, and to listen wisely. This is because listening wisely requires patience and discernment. It requires knowing how much to reflect back and how much to draw out. Counseling teaches us that, and there could be no better companion for classical astrology.

Counseling teaches us how to listen for pain and how the human mind, heart, and body react to pain. It teaches us a myriad of ways to work inside those experiences to get present, have compassion, bear witness, and grieve. This is particularly suited to classical techniques because these techniques identify what those pain points are and how they originated in ways that modern astrology simply cannot.

Classical techniques assume you are a mere mortal whose hopes and fears and very body is subject to the sorts of slings and arrows that positive thinking and the law of attraction can’t do a thing about. Classical techniques describe those sorts of experiences better and more reliably than modern ones ever could. In classical astrology those slings and arrows suddenly get really clear. They’re no longer a statement of how you perceive the world about you, they describe that world in bright, vivid, unflinching detail. And it’s not your fault. It’s just what’s so. The relief of that! The idea of free will is really quite a burden if you’ve been shouldered with painful circumstances you can’t do anything about.

And psychology and counseling offer some of the very best tools to maximize whatever allotted free will may exist. We need to deploy them.

In the article I’m responding to, the author makes the point that, “astrology is a practice. It only comes alive through use.” I was very struck by this pith observation. I’ve been practicing classical methods as a modern astrologer for just over ten years now. It’s radically altered my experience of being alive in ways I’ve only just begun to solidly articulate, and it’s not because I’ve turned away from the teachings of psychology. It’s because I’ve embraced both of them together.

I invite you to do the same.

 

Behenian Fixed Star Font

Kent and I made a font a few months ago featuring the glyphs for the Behenian fixed stars, used by medieval astrologers to do magical workings. Well, I drew it, he did all the rest with his mad genius tech skills and unerring Virgo eye for alignment. I’ve been playing with it ever since, layering it over some pictures I took awhile ago when we went for a long hike through Forest Park.

Here is the symbol for Sirius, a fixed star that “gives honor, the goodwill and favor of men and the airy spirits, and the power to pacify nobles and others.” It currently resides at 14° Cancer 18′, which is roughly a degree or two away from where the Sun was when the United States was founded (for you astro nerds reading this I’m not using parans for my breezy pop culture analysis partly because we don’t have the correct time of birth for the US, but also because no one else practically is either and honestly it’s just easier – and yes, I’m aware that the star has changed location since 1776, but DUDE, come on, I made you a font! #getoverit).

ANYWAY, here is Sirius floating above the graceful tendrils of moss growing towards the light of our Sun. The day Kent and I took this walk in the park was before our the POTUS acted to sell off publicly protected lands the size of the state of Connecticut to the highest bidder, in an unprecedented reversal of two centuries worth of conservation efforts because, apparently, these lands afford “no purpose for taxpayers”. I’m not sure I can put into words how peculiar and fantastical this statement seems to me from both a historically mythic and practical standpoint, but maybe we can expect little else from a man who can’t abide stairs and likes to affix his name in gold onto everything he can.

But perhaps you are a fan of number 45, in which case you may want to use the glyph for the fixed star Regulus, which is rising alongside Mars in his natal chart, to suit your own ends (just google “Donald Trump Regulus” to see how many astrologers are doing just that – 74,000 hits and counting!). This could come in handy if you have any revelations you’d like to share regarding August’s eclipse over that point in his chart! I’ve chosen to color Regulus in pink here in honor of number 45’s whole sign twelfth house conjunction of Saturn and Venus, and his pussy-grabbing ways, but perhaps you would prefer a royal purple or blue to go with your political leanings.

The great thing is that being a bleeding heart liberal I’m all for open source, so I’m making this font available for all you to do with it whatever you like, you can download it here, or if you are not even reading this (like Kent claims he wouldn’t) then just keep scrolling to the bottom where I’ve made a Captain Obvious download button to make it suuuuuper easy for you.

Kent went a bit wormholey after he made the font and arranged all of them artfully on the image above in the order we find them on the zodiac. If you want to download the image above but in a handy black on white for printing out, just click here (The straight up astro font he used above will be available sometime this year, sign up for my newsletter to get alerted for that). Also, Kent made the font so that you can learn the glyphs by switching between lowercase for the name of the star and upper case for the glyph. Here’s a handy legend for that, just click on the image below to download it in black on white for printing out:

Use these magical symbols wisely, Little Ducklings, and be sure to credit this page for the font – unless you just can’t with my political ramble here, in which case let’s agree to disagree until we’re through the Pluto return of the US and the Saturn Neptune conjunction of 2025! In any event my prayers are with you and consider this font (you can download it below!) an expression of that.

May you be peaceful

May you be happy

May you be free

The Epic Astrology of Wonder Woman

We talk about the Saturn return, when that planet returns to the same point in the sky that it occupied at your birth, but today I want to talk about the history of Wonder Woman, and which planets herald her spectacular return to earth just when we might need her most. What does it mean that she’s coming back now, what themes does she bring with her, and what futures might it herald? (Spoiler alert: they’re definitely female!)

The 500 year cycle of Pluto and Neptune

Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, was born May 9, 1893 with Pluto and Neptune scarcely a degree apart in Gemini. Richard Tarnas, in Cosmos and Psyche, observes that because this conjunction, which only happens every 500 years, is the longest of all the planetary cycles that the relative “historical and cultural phenomena are in certain respects the most profound and consequential.” He points out that the 1890’s conjunction corresponds with “the great sin de fiècle epoch of the last decades of the nineteenth century”, which is an era marked by the utter assimilation of the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent dawn of geopolitics, with radical ramifications for gender and sexual parity.

Tarnas charts feminism by the path of Uranus-Pluto through the sky, and while the Uranus Pluto opposition was in effect from 1896 – 1907, the first nation to give women the right to vote was New Zealand, in 1893, the same year that Marston was born, when the conjunction of Pluto and Neptune was near exact. With the development of geopolitics in the same time period, a movement that looked at how the burgeoning technology of the day would change conquest, warfare, and mapping, it’s hard not to read into the birth of Wonder Woman’s creator the dawning of a new age, one marked by devastating new weaponry but also its opposite: a new call for peace and reconciliation and the inclusion of people long left out of the  equation. Humanity’s earliest understanding of ourselves as a global culture sparked the first World War, but that, in turn, called into question the need for war at all.

That we still question this is evidenced not only by the current polarized political climate, but by the return of Wonder Woman herself. In a truly canny moment of synchronicity the writers and director of the new film chose to place her new origin story during WWI, which goes against cannon, because  the first Wonder Woman was released July 18, 1942 during WWI, when the enemy was a little more obvious. However, truthfully, the backdrop of WWI is where her story always began. Despite the bold, technicolor, optimistic strokes Wonder Woman is best painted with, these strokes inevitably mask her true origin story, one marked by complexity, secrecy, technological upheaval, and collective doubt about the nature of mankind.

However, Marston, bless him, never met a problem he thought a woman couldn’t solve and buoyed by the extreme, if volatile, optimism described by a Jupiter Uranus opposition in his chart, he crafted a heroine for this new age, one who could take on the troubles of the world and vanquish them with a snap of her lasso. Cheesy? Maybe, but if you think that’s a valid criticism don’t tell Patty Jenkins, the woman who directed the newest version of the story. Jenkins, who possesses Jupiter as the focal point of a T square in her own chart (opposing Marston’s Venus), has famously “banned” the word cheesy in her world. She says, “I wanted to tell a story about a hero who believes in love, who is filled with love, who believes in change and the betterment of mankind. I believe in it. It’s terrible when it makes so many artists afraid to be sincere and truthful and emotional, and relegates them to the too-cool-for-school department. Art is supposed to bring beauty to the world.”

The first ever full issue of Ms Magazine with Wonder Woman on the cover.

To truly understand Wonder Woman, you have to understand why painting in such broad jovial strokes, hiding the ugliness underneath, was necessary not only for her own survival, but for that of her creator, and arguably, for all the rest of us too.

The future was always female

William Moulton Marston was fascinated with Greek myths and embedded his heroine within them, casting her out of clay sparked to life by the Gods themselves, which can also be seen against the backdrop of the Pluto/Neptune cycle, as the opposition of those two planets was present during the Hellenistic years of Greece. Jill Lepore, author of the fascinating Secret History of Wonder Woman charts how Marston studied philosophy at Harvard in the heady early aughts of the twentieth century under the tutelage of a professor fully enamored of both Aristotle and early feminism. This professor, who was the faculty sponsor of the Harvard Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, spoke passionately to his students about both Greek hedonism and intellectual pursuits and took pains to remind the young men in his classroom that women possessed the capacity for both as well, despite what was commonly thought.

In addition, the feminism of Marston’s young adulthood was colored by tales of Sappho and the Isle of Lesbos, both of which were used as mythological inspiration for notable fictions penned by early feminists, featuring lands populated only by women, Lepore reports. Marston took all of this to heart. So much so that by the time he came to create Wonder Woman, thirty years later, a founding text for her character included the groundbreaking book published in 1920 by Margaret Sanger, Woman and the New RaceIn this book, Sanger, who coined the term “birth control”,  declared that, “No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.” Sanger declared “it is woman’s duty as well as her privilege to lay hold of the means of freedom. Whatever men may do, she cannot escape the responsibility”, because “Others may help, but she and she alone can free herself.”

So Wonder Woman was literally created as an avatar for a new breed of woman. A new breed of woman through which a new race would be born, unlimited by the color of their skin. Women who would break the shackles of restraint imposed upon them by endless cycles of reproduction and child-rearing and take over the world to remake it in loving and righteous order with government sponsored daycare, family leave, and liberty and justice for all. And by all, she meant all.

Sadly and paradoxically, Sanger’s reputation has been sullied in recent decades by accusations of racism, which, despite being soundly debunked, persist. That these accusations stem from anti-abortion groups intent on discrediting reproductive rights activists seems not to have hampered the effectiveness of their campaign. In today’s polarized political climate greater credibility is generally granted to cynics than optimists.

What’s a Wonder Woman to do? One might wish to apply her magical lasso to those scurrilous liars…

Because of course we can’t talk about Wonder Woman without talking about her superpowers, and we can’t talk about her superpowers without talking about her magic lasso, which she uses to bind people to get them to tell her the truth. The Truth then, for Wonder Woman, is part of the alchemical process of liberation, achieved through binding. This apparent contradiction is fascinating on several levels.

The 12th house: what is hidden must come out

Let’s start with the most obvious, which is that in order for the truth to be set free it must first be forced. This mirrors the ancient wisdom carried by the 12th house, the house of secrets, loss, and suffering. Of the 12 houses, which describe 12 areas of life, the 12th is traditionally considered the worst of the worst, and the area of life it describes the least desirable. Modern astrology hails it as the house of transformation, but generally transformation isn’t necessary if things aren’t pretty crappy to begin with. But why? Why is the 12th house associated with secrets and sorrows? And what does it mean to transform those things?

A penetrating look at all the houses of an astrological chart reveals something very simple, yet almost always overlooked. The 12th house is only number 12 because it has just risen and will hence be the 12th and last house to rise again. Houses 1 through 6 are all below the horizon. We only have to consider the everyday experience of waking to understand the abrupt and even harsh change from below to above, from hidden to revealed, and from asleep to awake.

People with strong 12th house signatures carry something from their private, subterranean worlds into the inescapable prison of visibility. Of course we all have twelfth houses, we all have something to protect and shelter, but we are not all called to do so as a matter of survival the way people with strong 12th house signatures often are, with varying degrees of success. The trouble for such people is that they can’t not see what they do, and after carrying the significations of their 12th house throughout the previous twelve hours the desire to share their experience is often characterized by both need and dread. Unearthing the buried is not always met with approval, after all.

We know that Willam Moulton Marston was never able to live out his truth, instead he lived with a massive secret most of his life. Despite being the inventor of the lie detector and the creator of a superheroine who wields truth like a weapon, the mores of his time (and even ours, for the most part) dictated absolute secrecy around his home-life. Marston lived a polyamorous life with one wife, one live in mistress, and at least one long term lover invited into their home frequently. His mother knew about their arrangements, he apparently (from letters that still exist from her to him, Lepore reports) kept little from her. To the world at large, however, these arrangements, so far from commonplace in America in the early twentieth century, were kept entirely private.

 

This is reflected in his chart, of course, with Mercury ruling both his 9th and 12th houses from Mercury in Aries in the 7th (His time of birth is revealed in the afterward of Lepore’s book, where she quotes his doting mother’s careful annotation of his birth time as 3:50 PM). Marston’s chart reflects his drive to ferret out the truth of others (Mercury in Aries in the 7th) whilst guarding his own secrets (Mercury ruling the 12th). Of course, his Pluto Neptune conjunction is in Gemini, which is double bodied, and his Mars there, in mutual reception with his Mercury in the 7th only serves to underscore his desire for multiple partners and passion for each of them. That Pluto Neptune conjunction, which is trine to Saturn (in the 12th house using angular signs) speaks to deep and grounded intuition regarding the cultural conditions of his time with a profound and canny insight into what the future might bring forth from the changes afoot at the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century.

Secrets kept out of necessity, not of desire

But what does Marston’s need for secrecy tell us about Wonder Woman’s desire to conquer it? Well, first of all, no one can speak more eloquently about the promised land than someone who’s been there and Marston, by many measures, was a beloved family man and enjoyed some success in the world as well. He was possessed not only of a strong bond with a devoted mother, but of adult relationships with powerful women who adored him, (his live in lover was Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, a frequent visitor to their home) children who grew up within a loving, if secretive household, and a successful career with not just one, but two lasting legacies (he is remembered for both the lie detector test and for Wonder Woman, whose influence may only have just begun, but whose success was marked even before Marston died in 1947).

So Marston lived with passions and an unusual lifestyle he had to keep secret out of necessity, but in his imagination he created a world where such secrets were unnecessary. Wonder Woman, whose famous wrist cuffs are, in fact, symbols of bondage which she wields in a supreme act of transgression to break herself and others free, is the ultimate heroine living out the life Marston was bold enough to create privately for himself but, being mortal and of his time, unable to create publicly.

Through Wonder Woman, however, he broke through those restraints and dared to imagine a world where both women and men were free. As Margaret Sanger declared,

“The relentless efforts of reactionary authority to suppress the message of birth control and of voluntary motherhood are futile. The powers of reaction cannot now prevent the feminine spirit from breaking its bonds. When the last fetter falls the evils that have resulted from the suppression of woman’s will to freedom will pass. Child slavery, prostitution, feeble-mindedness, physical deterioration, hunger, oppression and war will disappear from the earth.” (italics mine)

Marston incorporated Sanger’s philosophy into the creation of Wonder Woman so fully that when a new writer was brought onto the comic Olive Byrne gave her Woman and the New Race, telling her that the slim tome would tell her everything about Wonder Woman she needed to know. So while Marston had secrets to keep, they were based on a fairly rich and rewarding personal life, and this actually tells us quite a lot about the nature of the 12th house and secrets in general. Houses 1 through 6 are all below the horizon, they are all hidden from view, and hence considered private. The 12th house, being the last house to rise again is actually the first house to emerge from this darkness, bringing it into the light. In other words, the private life is suddenly, with the full strength of dawn, brought into stark clarity, whether we are ready for it or not.

This is the real reason the 12th house is the domain of secrets. People who have difficult 12th house signatures will be forced, whether by instinct or external pressure, to hide circumstances of their private life or worse, some aspect of their actual nature. While the liberation of those bonds of secrecy may set them free they may also send them to prison, both real and metaphoric (also ruled by the 12th house).

We live in a period in which it’s hard to imagine Marston being able to keep his secrets at all. Between corporate data mining for profit and government spying on private citizens courtesy of the NSA secrecy has taken on a whole new meaning. That Wonder Woman should return to us now, in a time marked by the absolute blurring of privacy and secrecy is beguiling to say the least. What is her message for us? What do we need to be set free from?

In a culture where shaming has become a national past time it’s not hard to understand why the Marston household kept their family life a secret. What if they were right to do so? Even now, a hundred years later, his private life is considered shocking and suspect, the women he lived with assumed to be unwilling accomplices to his sexual proclivities, despite solid evidence to the contrary.

The fascinating and compelling book I’ve quoted multiple times in this post, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, is exactingly researched and meticulously detailed, yet it contains at its core a deep bias against Marston and a scarcely concealed delight in the attempt to shame him. The author, Jill Lepore, saves her best turns of phrase for revealing public records of disdain for him, despite that disdain stemming from people who may very well have been upset by his sexual appetites and bold statements about them. Her animosity may have driven her to research him as completely as she did, so I cannot fault her for it, but the most compelling moments of her research are never her arguments, but the source material she uses against her subject.

I can’t claim he was a paragon of virtue or even truly happy (can anyone be truly happy who is forced to live in secret?), but I can’t see that the material documents Lepore uses against him actually vilify him the way she seems to assume they do either.

Perhaps Wonder Woman is right to force the Truth only upon mortals who would use our secrets against us, shoving those villains into the very shackles they would seek to cuff us with.

The content page of the first Ms magazine, containing an article written by Gloria Steinem detailing how “Women Voters Can’t be Trusted.” Forty some odd years later and white women still can’t be trusted not to vote in a president who is actively trying to dismantle reproductive rights.

It remains to be observed that the current film incarnation of Wonder Woman was released June 2, 2017, with Venus conjoining Uranus in the 28th degree of Aries, closely conjoined Marston’s before-mentioned Mercury in the 26th. His message to us is still bearing fruit.

Furthermore his natal Jupiter Uranus opposition is mirrored by the current waning Jupiter Uranus opposition, a contact that is connected to radical changes in technology and philosophical breakthroughs. That the film should be released before Venus leaves Aries in her warrior goddess phase rising before the sun, and directly on the heels of a powerful Venus in Aries retrograde cannot be allowed to pass without comment. We have a president with Venus conjunct Saturn in his 12th house closing Planned Parenthood centers around the country. Margaret Sanger was the founder of that organization, for the sake of Sappho! Great Hera, we have never needed Wonder Woman more!

However, people will likely continue to argue about whether Wonder Woman can possibly be feminist when she is so scantily clothed and riddled with so many sexual innuendos, not to mention outright BDSM imagery. They will complain that no man could create a woman he sexualized and still call himself, or her a feminist. To them I will simply say, even Zeus Himself sprung forth wise Athena from his head. That Marston’s chart shows the asteroid Pallas Athene conjunct his Sun conjunct Venus is all the “proof” I need that a beloved heroine such as Wonder Woman can have a complicated history, a controversial father, a bit of a naughty side and still be the absolute bad ass we all need.

I can be grateful to Patty Jenkins for literally cloaking Wonder Woman’s entire body in the only sexual scene of the current film, and be grateful to her original creator for giving us a heroine whose overall narrative is still current, relevant, and even necessary.

In closing I will leave you with a paragraph from Margaret Sanger’s book, Woman and the New Race. Marston may have created a heroine whose valor and heart may yet span this Neptune Pluto epoch, but he did not and cannot do it alone.

“We must set motherhood free. We must give the foreign and submerged mother knowledge that will enable her to prevent bringing to birth children she does not want. We know that in each of these submerged and semi-submerged elements of the population there are rich factors of racial culture. Motherhood is the channel through which these cultures flow. Motherhood, when free to choose the father, free to choose the time and the number of children who shall result from the union, automatically works in wondrous ways. It refuses to bring forth weaklings; refuses to bring forth slaves; refuses to bear children who must live under the conditions described. It withholds the unfit, brings forth the fit; brings few children into homes where there is not sufficient to provide for them. Instinctively it avoids all those things which multiply racial handicaps. Under such circumstances we can hope that the “melting pot” will refine. We shall see that it will save the precious metals of racial culture, fused into an amalgam of physical perfection, mental strength and spiritual progress. Such an American race, containing the best of all racial elements, could give to the world a vision and a leadership beyond our present imagination.”

 

 

 

Venus Retrograde: Breaking Hearts & Shedding Skins

Venus as an evening star, setting after the Sun. I shot this at Joshua Tree a couple years ago less than an hour after sunset.

“I used to think a broken heart was something you had to put back together, like a favorite dish that fell on the floor and would never be the same again. Now I see that heartbreak often comes from the need to expand. Like a snake shedding a skin, your heart is just too big for the cage you’ve been keeping it in.”

I wrote that June 5th, 2014, six months after a Venus Retrograde that coincided with the last time my heart was broken. A year and four months later, one month after the Venus Retrograde of 2015 I met the love of my life and left LA to move in with him in Portland.

 

Venus goes retrograde about every eighteen months and during that retrograde period she makes a conjunction with the Sun. A conjunction is when a planet occupies the same degree of the zodiac as another from our viewing position on earth. With the Sun a conjunction has a heightened meaning because when a planet conjoins the Sun it disappears from our view, it becomes eclipsed.

During these planetary eclipses the planet ceases to reflect the light of the Sun to us here on earth and engages in a private dance with the Sun. Traditionally the loss of light is seen as a death, and the emergence of the planet on the other side of the conjunction as a rebirth. It’s as if the planet is reseeding itself. In the endless cycle of becoming, it is at this point that the planet and its significations must die in order to be reborn.

Venus is no exception to this phenomena, but because her orbit, like Mercury’s, lies between us and the Sun, she appears to us to make two sets of conjunctions with the Sun in her orbit around it. One conjunction happens when she is on the other side of the Sun, and hence, as far away from us as she can get. The other conjunction occurs during her retrograde cycle, when she is as close to us as she can get. The conjunction at the farthest point away from us is called a superior conjunction because it is considered closer to the heavens and the closer conjunction is called an inferior conjunction, because it lies closer to us, and hence to earthly, or base matters.

Traditionally the superior conjunction is considered, well, superior, as if the effects at this point were granted a sort of celestial, and hence more profound significance. In practice, I have not found this to be the case. In fact, there is something to be said for the deep earthy significance of reconnecting Venusian powers to our immediate, pressing, and selfish concerns. Venus is a planet concerned with the arts of love, both ethereal (superior conjunction) and sensual (inferior). It’s impossible not to read a deep mistrust of lust and the senses in traditional texts, which connect Venus to women and femininity.

Classically the conjunction of a planet to the Sun is considered the beginning of its cycle, which stands to reason, because of the death/rebirth cycle represented by an eclipse. However, in the cases of Venus and Mercury, which each enjoy two conjunctions with the Sun in their orbit, there is a question about which conjunction starts the cycle. Traditionally the superior conjunction is considered the beginning of the cycle, but more recently astrologers, notably Adam Gainsburg, have questioned this, placing the beginning of the cycle with the inferior conjunction during the Venus retrograde.

Adam’s model rescues the morning star Venus (when Venus emerges from the inferior conjunction she will rise as a morning star before the Sun in the mornings) from traditional disfavor. Traditionally, you see, a morning star Venus is considered to operate against her more favorable traits. She is considered a warrior Goddess in this incarnation, which is less about love and more about a fight. Adam’s take is that a morning star Venus is engaged in personal rather than collective concerns, and as an evening star she is engaged in collective concerns. Because those collective concerns are the ones Venus (and women in general) are rewarded for, passivity, receptivity, appreciation, and gentleness, it stands to reason that when Venus stands up and demands to be recognized for her efforts she would be considered unruly, selfish, and base.

In our current time, however, the effort to rise up and protect all female identified peoples and our bodies could be considered a question of the survival of the species. The fact that women are organizing around these principles to fight for healthcare, the right to choose, and a host of other considerations is a necessity, and if that makes us base, well, I’m pretty sure I speak for a whole lot of us when I say, SO FUCKING WHAT.

Honestly, I’m less interested in which conjunction starts the Venus cycle and more that her cycle actually provides the choice of either. Talk about messing with the binary. What if her cycle (and Mercury’s too, but that darling bi/trans/othering planet really deserves their own post) actually represents less a chronological continuum with a beginning and ending point but rather an inward and outward breath? What if it has less to do with getting somewhere and more about being with wherever you/we are actually at?

I am, of course, writing this on the very day Venus approaches the inferior conjunction with the Sun in Aries, which is the sign in which she is in detriment, because Aries is ruled by Mars, and God forbid Venus ever gets, you know, actually angry. God forbid she ever rises up and protects herself, sets a boundary, or says NO. It’s sort of double whammy, this particular retrograde cycle and against the backdrop of all that is happening in the world the stakes feel especially high.

As I write this my chest feels very tight, as if these are words I’ve been longing to share for a long time. I keep sighing and brushing tears from my eyes, trying to clear them so I can see the screen in front of me. There will be people who disagree with my take entirely, and that is fine. I’m not actually talking to you. I’m talking to the women who contributed to the epic emotional labor thread on metafilter the last time Venus went retrograde in 2015. I’m talking to everyone who ever had their heart broken and saved themselves and lived to fall in love again. I’m talking to everyone who’s ever been abused, abandoned, or diminished and had to cut people out of her life in order to survive and overcome her trauma. I’m talking to her, but that means you, because we all have a Her inside us, we all have a Venus, and She needs protecting.

She is worth fighting for.

We need to love her and honor her and to do that we need to start with ourselves. There is no better time to do that then at the inferior conjunction of the Venus retrograde cycle. There is no better time to do that than right now, and to keep the practice going throughout her Morning Star phase, especially as she begins her trek back through Aries from April 29th through June 5th.

On a global scale we are watching the effects of what happens when we do not attend to the needs of the people and the people are feeling it. Those in power are feeling it too. Collectively we are all fed up and ready to riot. Nations are preparing for war.

This is a frightening time, and the outcome is uncertain, but there is no backing away from it. As of March 31st Venus will be rising before the Sun in the pre-dawn sky, glowing faintly there at first and then with increasing brightness as she gains her strength for the fight. As of April 30th she will re-enter Aries, the sign of Mars, the God of war. Whatever your part is to play it is time to play it and play it well.

What have you been swallowing against your will in your own life? Where have you been giving up too much of yourself and not getting enough in return? Stand beside yourself and be an ally now.

Goddess Speed, my little dumplings. Let’s make it so.

 

 

NORWAC – Saturday AND Sunday!

12th house

I’m not even sure where to start now that I’m finally at the end of editing all the photographs I got at NORWAC a couple weeks ago. I first started this project at the ISAR conference in the fall of 2014 as a way of documenting my beloved astrological community and I swear I’m more in love with it now than when I started. This time it took much longer to edit the pictures than I expected, there were just so many. I’m grateful to be at the close of another wonderful round, and I’m humbled by this community and the generous way people shared themselves with me, played with me, and made this project their own.

I’m going to highlight some of the pictures and the people that made them with me, and made this weekend possible, striking, and full of possibility. There are links to the rest of the shots at the end of the post.

The shot above features Corina Dross, Mubeenah Mughal, and Rhea Wolf embodying the nature of the 12th house – the last of the twelve houses to rise because it has just risen! Think about the golden hour when the Sun has just crossed the horizon at dawn, things are suddenly visible but most of us are still asleep and unable to appreciate it, hence the 12th house is all about hiding in plain sight.

Daizy October Latifah

And hiding in plain sight has pretty much been the fate of astrologers of color and queer astrologers for a very long time, but this NORWAC marked a change in that. I saw more astrologers of color and queer astrologers then any astrology conference I’ve ever been to as well as just a whole crew of younger astrologers, in large thanks to the diversity program started by Laura Nalbandian, who organizes NORWAC every year. Sam Reynolds wrote about the program last year on his site, UnlockAstrology.com, making the case for its necessity. NORWAC has always been known for it’s family-round-the-table feeling and to see that table expand and grow to include a new and upcoming crew was a really welcome experience. For those of us who’ve been waiting and longing for more diversity in the astrological community it was deeply moving to see the dream beginning to be realized. I won’t lie, tears were shed.

But not in the Synastic Snaps photobooth! I’m choosing Daizy October Latifah as my poster girl for this outreach program because the way she holds that Libra glyph stick so proud and righteous and PRESENT delights me all the way down to my toes. Libra is usually known for reflecting others, so it’s especially meaningful to see Daizy here reflecting herself with such love. Daizy is one part of Wild Seed Astro, formed at NORWAC by several of the attendees as “a transformative collective of melanated magic” to keep the spirit and momentum of the spark they lit there going. Follow them on their youtube channel to catch what they’re throwing down. They’re just getting started.

Chartreuse Tembo Barriere

What am I gonna say about Chartreuse Tembo Barriere that this picture doesn’t say so much better? Another member of Wild Seed Astro, Chartreuse won my heart with her Leo rising and Capricorn Moon combo. She’s not holding the glyph stick for Leo because it’s SELF EVIDENT, duh. Also, please take a look at the book she’s holding, because this woman is radiating self-healing realness and she’s written a book to help all women do the same by creating a blueprint by which we can own all our parts, especially the dis-owned ones. Only a Capricorn Moon could break that subject down in a way that makes the integration possible, get your copy here.

Jessica Painter and Anders M Renee

OH. MY. GOD, you guys. THESE TWO. I knew when we were creating these images that they would be some of my favorites, and they did not disappoint. There’s a slew of them, each better than the last and I may have lost my heart to them a little. Jessica Painter and Anders Renee, you two made my day! Part of the tribe at Portland School of Astrology, these two could be the poster children for it, the joy and fun they’re emitting is exactly the vibe that school is becoming known for, under the expansive vision and guidance of founder Jayson Paulson.

Tracy Quinlan

I’m going to close out the images from NORWAC with this shot of Tracy Quinlan, who wins the prize for best tee shirts that weekend, and who never took a picture with me without making me split my gut laughing. Her playfulness and camaraderie represent my experience with my astro tribe in the best way. Also, this shot was one of the last ones I took that weekend and damn if it wasn’t exactly the encouragement I most needed to block off all other distractions to finish these images and bring them to you all.

Below you will find links to the images from each of the three days. There is an option to buy images off the site I use to host them, but you can also just drag and drop them to your computer for freeeee! I’ve set the price point for buying them at the lowest setting so I don’t benefit from the cost of the images if you do buy them off the site. However, I happily accept donations, so if you want to contribute to the cost of renting the equipment and the time it takes for me to edit the images feel free to use the donate button at the top right of this page (or scroll to the bottom if you’re on your mobile).

Thanks again to everyone who helped make Synastic Snaps what it is, a direct reflection of this ever expanding community we all love, and the tribe we are creating in every shot. Feel free to share, and please tag #synasticsnaps as you go!

Synastic Snaps Friday

Synastic Snaps Saturday / part one

Synastic Snaps Saturday / part two

Synastic Snaps Sunday

Synastic Snaps at NORWAC – update!

You guys, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and Saturn is mad at me!!! Here’s Kent acting it out for me in our synastry so I don’t get bogged down thinking it’s, you know, reality. I know I said I would have the pictures up by mid last week, but the truth is there are so many of them! Which is AMAZING AND AWESOME, by the way, I just didn’t anticipate the demand, it’s much bigger than the last time I did it. So between that and having other life commitments, I’ve only been able to get through Friday’s images thus far.

However, if you participated in Synastic Snaps on Friday, I’m happy to report they’re up and you can find the images following the link below. I’ve made them web friendly, but if you want a better resolution, just contact me here and I’ll be happy to send you a higher rez image. Just drag and drop or use the download button next to the picture.

http://www.wonderbrightphotography.com/NORWAC-2016/Friday/

NORWAC not a test!-1283

I figure I’ve got about 30 hours of editing left, but I’m feeling wildly optimistic, so I’m going to say I’ll have Saturday’s up by Friday and Sunday’s by the end of the weekend. Wish me luck, and if you see Saturn will you tell him for me I think he’s mad sexy and I’m grateful for all his nagging.

I’ll see you on the other side!

 

Mars Retrograde in Sagittarius

Mars Retrograde in Sagittarius

Mars goes retrograde Sunday, April 17th. It’s bad enough when any planet goes retrograde – when any path we’re on gets murky and unclear and we have to retrace our steps – but Mars! Mars is all about having a clear directive to go after what we want. Something in our sights. A goal, a plan, a way forward.

And you know that joke about how to make God laugh? “Tell him your plans.” The Mars retrograde is the punchline to that joke. Not because our plans are laughable, exactly, but more because the execution never looks the way we think it will. The universe isn’t just listening to what we say, It’s listening to what we DO. And if there’s anything a Mars retrograde is good for, it’s for showing us all the places in our lives where those two things are out of alignment.

So whatever shiny, beautiful thing you have in your sights right now, get ready for it to start shifting before your very eyes. Don’t stop looking at it! Don’t give up and walk away. But it’s time to ask yourself some questions. Because Mars demands excellence. It’s where we fight FOR things, not against things. It’s our ability to pluck up our courage in the face of no agreement and take a stand for what we believe in. For the lives we really want to live.

So as Mars begins to drift backwards over the next ten weeks it’s time to check in and ask yourself, “am I being true to myself?” “are my actions consistent with my words?” “Is this thing I want truly what I want or is it just a substitute?” “Can I do better?” “How can I do better?” “How can I be better?” Take heart Chickadees! Be bold! Be daring! Be brave! Bring snacks! I’ll see you on the other side!

Ask Wonder

Coming Soon!

An astrological advice column for the heartbroken, lost, and deeply perplexed. Have you lost a lover, a cat, or your favorite necklace? Are you wondering if you’ll get that man, that house, or that job?

Wonder no more! Ask her instead! Just fill out the form below! If your question is chosen it will soon be answered!

What are you waiting for?! Ask away!

Lovelandia

Lovelandia

For my going away party Kent and I found some letter balloons at a great party supply shop in San Diego. We agonized over what to say initially but when we finally strung them up I felt confident it would be the subject of an Instagram post in the future.

I didn’t anticipate it would take me over a week to get to it, and honestly it hardly seems possible it’s barely been a week since I took it. At the time my apartment with the the downtown views of LA was bare, the movers had come and gone and left me with an air mattress, and I was living out of my suitcase wearing jeans and a tee shirt pretty much 24/7.

Now I’m in Portland with the heat ON, I’m still living out of a suitcase but fortunately I packed all the sweaters I owned (that would be one) and I’m bundled up in that too. My movers can’t get my stuff to me till the middle of January, it’s been raining since I got here, and I caught a cold.

I’ve never been so happy. Well, maybe when I was a year and a half old, but I didn’t KNOW I was happy then, I just thought that was the way it was.

Now I know better. Happiness isn’t something I can take for granted. At least I don’t think I can. But something strange has been happening to me the past week, so I can’t entirely be sure. Because being able to wrap my arms around someone I love who loves me back pretty much whenever I want and laughing so hard I almost wee myself two to three times a day isn’t something I can intellectualize.

I mean, I know it could all end in a second – one of us could be hit by a bus or taken out by a virus or a madman or a tornado – but I don’t KNOW KNOW that. My body doesn’t know that. My body, which is where I live, is starting to get comfortable. Which is frankly really weird.

I don’t know who I am if I’m happy. But I have the feeling I’m about to find out.

End of an Era

Have a great time in Portland

I’ve been waiting tables for fifteen years at a wonderful restaurant on a magical little corner on the east side of Los Angeles. Today is my last day, and I purposely didn’t wear mascara, in preparation for all the goodbyes I have to say. All weekend I’ve been giving my favorite regulars hugs and discounts and loving looks as they hold my hands and get tearful.

People are usually surprised when I tell them I like waiting tables, and it’s probably because most of us have a hard time doing repetitive work that requires you put other people’s needs above your own. But I’ve learned that being humbled is one of the best things that can happen to a person and the love I’ve experienced on this corner isn’t something I can easily put into words. I’ve been laughing and crying and sharing stories with people here for years that I would never have met otherwise.

I’ve easily fed over two hundred thousand people in the last fifteen years, many of them hundreds of times apiece. And yes, that’s gotta be my ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in the field according to Malcolm Gladwell. And for me that’s been about way more than multi-tasking and being able to carry multiple plates at once.

It’s an incredibly intimate thing to feed people. To be with them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. To give them caffeine and booze and the fried chicken they’ve been looking forward to all week. To soothe people who are low on blood sugar and cranky as hell, to say no to unreasonable requests, to manage pleasing people with being efficient. To accept responsibility even when it’s not your fault. To live in the every dayness of the day to day, foregoing goals and ambition in pursuit of the excellence of the moment.

This gig has been one of the best things that ever happened to me and I’ll never get over it or forget all the people I’ve worked with, for, served, and fed. Thanks for fifteen amazing years, Kitchen! I may be leaving you, but you will never leave me and for that I can only be grateful.