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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 05′, 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 I’ll using the same argument there – sorry/not sorry #IdowhatIwant #Amerika).

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!). 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

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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.

 

 

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!

Venus Retrograde in Leo: Worry About Yourself

City lights

the sky was so purple last night I had to try to catch it

I don’t know about you guys, but this Venus Retrograde has been kicking my ass. I’ve tried to write about it a dozen times hoping I’d be able to locate some light in this hall of fun house mirrors, but no dice. Venus is the planet of love and relationships, so whenever she goes retrograde (about every year and a half) the traditional advice is to pay attention to your relationships and work it out. This time she’s going through Leo, though, so that advice is squared by a factor of about ten.

This is because Leo is the sign ruled by the Sun, so wherever it falls in your chart is the source of whatever light you have to shine. With Venus Retrograding in Leo it’s time for us to square our core mission and intention in life with those we love. If Leo or the Sun in your chart is well placed then this period is likely to be a pretty good time for you, with maybe a few bumps along the way while you adjust your ability to translate your enthusiasms to other people. But ultimately this is the time when the people you care about most will notice your shiny beautiful self and embrace it.

Congratulations! You’re like mini avatars of self evolution and becoming. Now kindly fuck off. Oh, don’t take it that way, I don’t mean it. But the truth is you’re probably not even reading this, you’re too busy cuddling with your lover, because, like I said, FUCK OFF. For reals, this post is really for the rest of us.

Venus Retrograde Jazz hands

I was inspired to make a self portrait but first I had to take some test shots of my invisible hand

Because for the rest of us… well, there’s a reason “this summer has been like Christmas on steroids to divorce lawyers in Hollywood.” It’s because for a lot us locating that place where we shine doesn’t come so easy, and more often than not it’s wrapped up in all sorts of heavy baggage that looks like co-dependency, projection, and buried resentments. It’s that last one that will get you right now, though, because Venus retrograding through Leo is like a giant heart shaped shovel unearthing every last word you’ve kept bottled up for however long you’ve been doing it.

And Mars joining Venus in Leo two weeks ago raised the stakes significantly. Now is no time to be pretending you don’t care whether your significant other makes jokes at your expense, forgets your birthday, or simply doesn’t exist because you’ve been single for that long. Now is no time to shove your head underground pretending you don’t care. You care, all right. And no one is ever going to love what you love the way you do, so trying to get someone else to do it when you can’t even do it yourself is a very tough sell.

Venus Retrograde in Leo love yourself

What this time is good for is getting to the heart of what really matters to you. Who you are for you when no one else is listening. And then for shouting it to the rooftops. Or that person or people in your life who don’t seem to see it the way you need them too, whether it’s your boss, your sister, your father, your kid, your best friend, your business partner, the PTA, or your lover.

Now, they may not listen, and that’s ok. I know it doesn’t seem so, but you have to trust me on this. It really is ok. You’re not telling them how great you are for them. You’re not sharing your light with them to change them, fix them, or diminish them. You’re sharing your light with the world by way of them. This person, place, or thing that isn’t listening and doesn’t see you isn’t the obstacle here. The obstacle isn’t that anyone else can’t see the light you shine. It’s that you, yourself are getting in the way of shining your brightest by attracting people, attitudes, and ways of being that actively diminish your starshine.

This is your chance to change all that.

Will you lose people who want to see you one way and find your self-assertion disruptive? Maybe. I encourage you to think of those losses as dead weight. Necessary dead weight you’ve been carrying too long that it would be super awesome to let go of. Will you lose outdated attitudes about yourself and who you are that are not serving you? LET US HOPE SO. For the love of the Gods, make it so.

Venus Retrograde in Leo cannot delete

When I was taking all these pictures at my window last night I went through them to delete the ones I didn’t like. When I came to the one above I found that it was saved it on my camera as a “protected” image, meaning that I couldn’t delete it until I changed the protection on it.

Because I was thinking about all this stuff at the time, the image really struck me. The rawness of my core belief that I will never be loved by someone who stays with me is really potent and every time I get in there to delete it there’s some tiny sliver of it I find really tough to get out. But what if this sliver in my paw was the grain of sand in my oyster heart? What if, instead of backing away from the pain of it, from the agony of it, I chose to embrace it instead? What if it was the key to my kingdom rather than the locked door of it?

Pema Chödrön talks about this heart wisdom eloquently:

“When I was about six years old I received the essential bodhichitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.”

Right there, I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.

Venus Retrograde in Leo

So I don’t know about you, my little Chickadees, but I’m going to ride out the remainder of this Venus Retrograde through Leo determined to open up every time my instincts tell me to shut down. Leo doesn’t ask us to hide. Leo asks us to shine. It’s the least we can do.

And as of yesterday Venus has emerged from inside the disk of the Sun. If you go out in the early predawn hours tomorrow you will see her hanging in the sky above the horizon in her guise as the Morning Star. It’s now that she begins her journey towards a self-loving healing, turning her attention to what serves her own purposes best. Don’t fight it, consider that she knows better than you do.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, well, with Mars and Venus heading up to a conjunction at the end of August we may not have much of a choice in the matter. Things will come to a head then, no joke, so whatever and whoever you’re struggling with be prepared to surrender to it in a big way then. It’s no time to back down, my dumplings, don’t let the planets do all the work for you, get in there and work that shovel yourselves. I promise it’s easier that way.

For the record, as I discovered studying Gary Caton’s excellent article on the cycles of Venus and Mars in The Ascendent, it’s the first time Venus and Mars have conjoined in Leo since June of 1991, so if you can remember that far back you might check in with the younger version of yourself to see what lessons you learned then you’re having to re-remember now. Let’s put paid to them this time!

And if you need some help working out which direction to dig don’t forget I’m available for one on one consultations to strategize how to have that conversation with the person in your life you’re practicing these hardcore life/love lessons with.

Book a Heart to Heart with Wonder

Best of luck, Precious Treasures! I will see you on the other side!

New Moon New(ish) You

New Moon Eclipse

My mum went to Mongolia last month and she brought me back a solar powered prayer wheel. Here it is sitting on my windowsill catching some rays on an atypical cloudy day here in LA last week. It may seem a funny pick for a photo-op for a New Moon (Solar) Eclipse, since under a New Moon the striking thing is that the Sun don’t shine, but I think that’s what the prayers are for.

As the Moon crosses the Sun’s disk and blots out the light there’s a moment there where things go dark, where the Moon, which is almost always reflecting the light of the Sun back to us here on earth, is catching all the rays for herself. Now, either she’s protecting us or she’s being selfish, depending on how you look at it.

The trick here is that, like most things astrology, when we talk about the Moon or the Sun we’re also talking about ourselves. As above, so below.

So my question for you, Precious Treasures, is, where in your life do you need to go dark now, and collect the light of the Sun all for yourself? Where do you need to turn inwards to face your Sun, what portion of your soul demands prostration?

solar powered prayer wheel

This eclipse is happening at zero degrees Scorpio, at the tippy top of the slippery slope of that sign, which makes this question all the more acute. Scorpio is such a hungry, voracious sign, you see, and in the beginning degrees at its very hungriest. Two weeks ago, under the Lunar Eclipse in Libra I asked you where in your life you’d been struggling with relationships and what you needed to do to let the other party go, to do their own thing, so that you could do yours. Well now it’s time to ask yourself what is that thing you need to do?

Where in your life are you hungry? What do you need to feed yourself? Austin Coppock, in his new book, 36 Faces, warns us that in the first decan of Scorpio “we are brought to confront the cycles of hunger which are the price and pleasure of incarnate being.” In the early degrees of Scorpio we discover our appetites, our roving, insatiable self, the part of us that can never be satisfied. Getting in touch with that portion of ourselves is exhausting, because it requires both understanding our deepest needs and desires and relinquishing control over whether they will be sated. Sometimes the object of the game is to play, not win.

But the only way to discover that is to play to win. Classic humor of the Gods.

Austin says that with the Sun here, the insightful native may not be “freed from their desires, but they come to understand them, gaining great insight into themselves, and, more generally, human psychology as a whole.” He goes on to say that with the Moon positioned here, the wise native may “come to understand the cyclical nature of desire, and become the master of their natures.”

Now I’m only giving you a day to prepare for that reckoning, which may seem like a tall order for 24 hours, but the truth is you’ve already been doing this work. Consciously or not, you’ve long been preparing to release your past desires and clear the way for new ones coming in. Pro-tip: the stronger the surge of your lust, the older it actually is. You’ve always been hungry for what you’re looking at now, it’s just that you haven’t ever seen it quite so clearly. Pro-tip #2: Venus is configured strongly to this eclipse, bringing in the Venusian/Libra themes of this past year and tying in our sexual/romantic/love needs. Where are those needs not being met in your life? What do you need to release in order to make way for a new direction there?

You do have 24 hours, however, and there are very real tangible things you can do to prepare for it. One Libra I know downed a plate of peppers yesterday because “capsaicin is medicine to punish misbehavior and to cleanse it.” She apologized to her ancestors and wiped her slate clean. Me, I’m gonna settle for some nice piping hot sage later today and tomorrow and give my home a good thorough smudging. Alternatively, you could head over to Planetary Apothecary where Stephanie Gailing has been counseling her readers all week to release something every day in preparation for what’s to come. Check it out if you want some more tips on what releasing your past might look like and to see what other people have been doing.

I’m gonna let Sister Cristina Scuccia take us out. You may remember Sister Cristina as the singing nun who won Italy’s The Voice this summer. She’s releasing an album of covers to benefit her order and the first single she’s releasing is Like a Virgin. Michael K says this is “because the first line of the music industry bible reads: STUNTS SELL” but I’m not so sure. I think the heartbreakingly funny/beautiful thing about this video is its sincerity and I’m so in love with the sheer ridiculous paradox of it. Who the hell told her she could DO this?!

Affirming what I’ve long believed Sister Cristina says this song isn’t about sex, it’s about “the power of love to renew people. To rescue them from their past.”

Sister Cristina is singing this to her God, just like the Moon will be singing to the Sun tomorrow at 2:57 pm PDT. Where in your life do you need to sing this song? What part of your soul needs to hear it? To be made brand new?

Release yourselves, Little Dumplings. Take flight. You’re the only one you need, be the one you want.

 

 

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Eclipse Yourself: What’s UP with October’s eclipses

Libra Eclipse

Driving home from the conference in AZ Jenn and I stopped to get gas. RIGHT NEXT TO A BUNCH OF DINOSAURS. Clearly, this was a sign. So we got out of the car and went in for a closer look.

Libra Eclipse

The pictures I took that afternoon have stayed with me, keeping me company this past week. I know I’m not alone in feeling that the past couple weeks have been very intense, and ancient REALLY BIG monsters have been rearing their heads in the lives of more people than I can count.

Astrologically this links up with the Capricorn Venus cycle, which started last fall, and which Adam Gainsburg so beautifully explains here, and then with the Mars retrograde in Libra this spring, which I KNOW for a DAMNED FACT I’m not the only one to have suffered from, but suffer I did. Between that and the Cardinal Cross everything this year has been about confronting fears in relationship and diving in despite them.

Looking back on it, and collecting the stories of those around me, it’s clear that many of us (those of us with planets in the Cardinal signs especially, ie; Aries, Cancer, Libra, & Capricorn) have been dealing with old fears around relationship and working out how to get our needs met when we are responsible for also meeting the needs of others.

Libra Eclipse
We’ve been struggling to make friends with needs we can no longer ignore. We’ve been working to express those needs to others with varying degrees of success. It’s not been easy and it’s hardly over. Obviously, it won’t really be over until we’re all dead and buried, but I can’t help but feel like a fever broke this past week. The lunar eclipse in Aries on Wednesday saw to that.

I went to Venice Beach Wednesday at five am to catch the last rays of the eclipse and perform a lunar eclipse ritual. Traditionally full moons are about letting go of things, so it’s a good time to formalize your intentions around releasing whatever holds you back, and a lunar eclipse is just a full moon squared, so I headed down to the shoreline to do just that. Release and let go.

It was still dark when I got there and the Moon was huge, hanging in the sky over the Pacific, throwing a shine onto the water that ran for miles. I sat there, huddling under the wrap I brought, wishing I’d worn jeans because the wind was whipping about me. I clutched my pen and wrote out all the things I wanted to let go of and release under this Lunar Eclipse. It was a LONG ASS list, I can tell you, because for the aforementioned reasons, this year has been one peak and valley after another.

staring down an eclipse

And as I sat there, watching the Moon set and scribbling in my journal waiting for my girl, Beth to arrive, I thought about how this whole year has been about relationships and pushing past our known limits and stretching into some very new territory. I thought about my Libra Moon friend who finally met the man of his dreams only to discover that he wasn’t comfortable being happy, since it’s not a story he’s ever lived before. His journey this year has been electric and tough and scary, but it’s the one I keep in front of me because I WISH I had his problems. I thought about the Venus in Libra client I have who has been more successful this year than any other and the toll it’s taken on her family. I thought about the other Venus in Libra client I have who has had to cut people out of her life left and right all year. And the Mars in Libra client who has come to terms with who she really is in her fight for love.

I thought about all my Libra friends who have been struggling with relationships they want/don’t want all year long. The eclipse on Wednesday required us to identify what we wanted for ourselves apart from what we wanted from a relationship. It’s time for us to stop seeking external validation, let go of our need for a partnership that fills all the holes, start filling them ourselves. Stop allowing energy suckers into our lives, stop being energy suckers.

Astrology is a funny business, you know. You stare at your chart for hours, you look at the ephemeris ahead of time, you plot and you plan and you scheme and you try to direct your life in accordance with the flow you see rushing towards you, but at the end of the day life isn’t for calculating, it’s for living. Nothing replaces the experience of being in the swim of things, not resisting, or trying to control it, but just letting go and being with it, with your people, with your experiences. You know, LIVING.

Libra Eclipse

Facing your monsters and your demons and, hopefully, learning to dance with them.

Beth showed up just as the Sun began to rise. There was this exquisite moment there, when the Moon was setting and the Sun was rising and the night was fading and the day was dawning and everything seemed to hang in the balance. I understood in my bones, finally, why the full moon is about letting go of things. It’s because there is no other celestial phenomena that illustrates so beautifully what it is to die and to be reborn.

We sat across from each other, Beth facing the setting Moon and me facing the rising Sun. We held our slips of paper over the lighter until the flames took them over and we had to drop them into the pot Beth brought to hold the fire they made. We watched until the flames burned out and there was only ash left.

By then the Moon was gone and the Sun was firmly above the horizon, the light was gold and soft and the water beckoned. Beth grabbed her surfboard and I threw off my dress. We ran into the surf together and paddled out a ways before separating. The water was warm and the waves, though big, weren’t terrifying. In fact, they seemed to catch me at every turn.

Lunar Eclipse

There’s a Solar Eclipse still coming our way, barreling down the pike in another week and a half on the 23rd. It’s gonna be in the early degrees of Scorpio, emphasizing the degree Mercury stationed at last week. It’s time to delve even deeper, get to the source of our desire, independent of anyone else, root it out and name it. It’s been calling to us, it’s time we called back. Yes. We’ve still got our work cut out for us, and some new twists and turns coming.

Let’s be ready, Precious Treasures. Let’s prepare for the unpreparable. Let us let go of what’s holding us back so we can start anew.

Let’s dance.

Barbie in Capricorn

Here I am ABOUT TWENTY YEARS AGO showing my affection for Barbie while my beloved Aunt June looks on.

At the writing workshop I attended a month or so back Steve Almond gave us a prompt to write about an obsession. I wrote about my childhood obsession with Barbie:

Barbie is beautiful. She’s clean and shiny and smiling and perfect. She has everything she wants and no one can tell her what to do and everyone loves her and wants to be her.

She wears gauzy beautiful dresses like that woman that’s friends with my aunt and high heels and make up and everything in her world is right. She has a handsome boyfriend in uniform and they like to hump outside under the tree together. He’s a stormtrooper and his uniform doesn’t come off but she likes it like that.

Barbie has this way about her where it doesn’t matter what’s going on, she just always looks put together and happy. It’s not just her eyes or her hair or all her clothes – or the way she looks good in everything, it’s the way that it doesn’t matter what happens, she still keeps smiling.

A gopher can steal her head and run off with it down the gopher hole when you play Barbie Visits the Caves and she’s still smiling. At least I think she is, I never found her head, but I bet she’s still smiling.

She didn’t bleed when it happened, she didn’t let out so much as a yelp or a moan or a whimper, she just took it.

I didn’t. I was shocked when it happened. Outraged. I wanted revenge. It didn’t help that my mum couldn’t stop laughing. She felt bad about it, but she couldn’t stop laughing.

It was a struggle to get my clog wearing mum to ever buy me a Barbie, she was constantly pointing out to me that women don’t have proportions like that, that women aren’t made with teeny tiny hands and feet and a waist the size of their wrists.

But I persisted. I begged and begged for Self-tanning Barbie and wept and wept when Mum got it for me for Christmas only to change her mind when I opened the box and it smelled “chemical.” She let me get a different Barbie in exchange, but I don’t remember that Barbie, I only remember the one that got away.

 

After I’d finished reading the piece aloud Steve leaned forward and said, “there is more around the circumstances with the mother and the imperviousness of Barbie that could be unpacked.” I said, “you mean, this mother right here?” gesturing to my mum who was sitting beside me all red in the face ’cause she hates attention under the best of circumstances. The room broke into laughter and Steve’s face broke open in surprise. Steve asked my mum if she wanted to read anything about me in response. More laughter.

Thank heavens for my mum! And I won’t be unpacking anything around the circumstances with her here other to say that I’m so glad now that she insisted Barbie wasn’t natural or even desirable. And not for all the feminist, obvious things. But because of what Steve caught in the way I described her that I never noticed before.

Barbie is impervious. Nothing gets to her. She is always the same, blessed with a preternatural way of always being exactly happy with everything that happens to her. She appealed to my Capricorn Venus, (no surprise there, of course, her Saturn is in Capricorn conjunct my Venus!) she’s resilient and unbending. She’s self-contained and doesn’t need anyone else in order to have a perfect home and a perfect life.

I’ve said it before, but Venus isn’t really friends with Saturn. Saturn is all about limits and boundaries and Venus is all about inclusion. A Capricorn or Aquarius Venus experiences a certain amount of distance between the object of her affections and the receipt of them. It makes for an uneasy alliance.

For the first time I share the revulsion my mum always felt for Barbie. I never got it before. The clothes were just play, the hair, the nails, the high heels, all of that was just for fun. The real heart of the matter was always that she couldn’t be hurt.

And of course, that’s ridiculous. I’ll bet Barbie wasn’t at ALL happy to be dragged down that gopher hole! I’ll bet she wanted to kick and scream and tear that damned gopher’s eyes out. She just couldn’t. She was so used to faking it that she just kept smiling, and the farther he dragged her down the hole and the dirtier her hair got, the less it all mattered, because she had to just keep smiling that dumb ass smile the whole time.

I just googled “Sad Barbie” and now I’m really sad. I found some cool pix, but man, people are SAD. The one above will lead you to a tumblr about self-harming if you click on it. You’ve been warned.

 

 

 

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Maleficent and the Crisis of Fury

you know the tale

I took my nephew to see Maleficent Wednesday. Of course, T, being only four and a half, found it a little hard to follow. With his little feet just reaching the edge of the seat he kept turning to me, saying things like, “why is she crying?” and when I told him, a follow up of, “why did he cut off her wings?” and then much later, at the end, his hand stuffed into his Raisinet box digging for the last ones, “why are you crying, Auntie?”

Because I seriously cried so hard! I didn’t expect to, it surprised me. But it was really moving, and not just because it was lyrical and Angelina Jolie took my heart by storm, but because it was redemptive and I believed it. I wanted to.

I needed a redemptive Mars tale.

there is evil in this world 3

This Mars in Libra transit has been a doozy for me. When Mars stationed direct squaring my Sun last month I swear to the Gods something crawled out from under my 12th house rock that I thought I’d slaughtered years ago. A great big ugly, sloppy, mean spirited beast that looked suspiciously like ME! ugh. In a fit of night terror I ripped apart the fragile threads between me and that guy I mentioned a couple months back. It only took seconds but the damage was done.

Of course, there’s loads more to the story, but the important thing, the thing I want to share here is, that a.) Mars sucks don’t play, b.) the 12th house can bite my ass isn’t something you ever get to sell or move out of. And that c.) you can run, but if it’s yourself you’re running from then there really isn’t anywhere you can hide. Like, ever.

There’s a scene towards the beginning of the film where Maleficent’s sidekick brings her the news that her former love, the man who viciously betrayed her, has had a child. Jolie plays it perfectly. Her eyes reflect such deep pain at the news that I quietly gasped in sympathy, but if you’d looked down at your popcorn even for a moment you’d have missed it. She looks away briefly and when she raises her head again her face has transformed into a grim smile, animated purely by malice. It’s pitch perfect, her transformation from grief to rage.

i'm the evil

You can feel the relief of it, the shiny fabulous weight that is lifted in the way Jolie sheds her sorrow and embraces the purifying rage sweeping through her, clearing away all doubt, all sadness, just washing it away, replacing it with clarity and purpose.

It’s a perfect Mars moment. Liberation from victimhood, catalyzing your grief into rage. A wild, dangerous freedom that will trap you just as surely as martyrdom if you’re not careful.

Sigh. I remember feeling like that. Not recently, but long ago. Mean, hateful, vengeful. I haven’t felt it in so long, but you don’t forget. When the pain runs so deep the only way out is annihilation, of yourself or the person who caused it and that moment when it gets crystal clear it’s not gonna be you. This is Mars at its core. The molten lava pouring out of you in that moment is a profound aspect of creation, but it’s the devil to harness and it will turn on you. It will cut a bitch, and if you’re not careful, the bitch it cuts might actually be the one wielding it.

The way I felt last month when I snapped and crossed over wasn’t even close to how ugly I’ve been in the past, but it revealed to me some hurt left there still lurking in the shadows. It revealed what I have yet left to do. Because the true gift of Mars isn’t the vengeance, or the fury, it isn’t even the liberation from victimhood, but the purpose. The real gift of Mars is the battle it reveals you must fight and the worth of fighting it.

now I have lost you 1

I’ve quoted Rob Hand talking about Mars before, but his take on Mars is so perfectly depicted in Maleficent that it bears repeating here. Hand says that the real worth of Mars isn’t in fighting against things, it’s in fighting for things. Belonging to the nocturnal sect, the sect of the Moon, Mars demands unconditional commitment, it requires tests of will power and stamina. It belongs to warriors and athletes, to people who do impossible things, simply because they said they would. It’s a raw wild power that defies ration or logic, and bows only to the force of feeling.

Angelina Jolie projects this quality perfectly. She was born to play Maleficent. She isn’t just perfect for the part, her chart is perfect for the part. She was born with Mars conjunct the Moon on the midheaven. For better or worse she embodies the qualities of Mars and always has. Like me she was born during the day, so Mars doesn’t naturally act in her favor, it took something for her to overcome the darker side of the energy. She is notorious for her destructive tendencies as a young woman, for her drug use, knife play, depression and anger. Things only changed for her when she got involved with humanitarian causes in 2001.

After that her focus switched. She stopped obsessing on her own misery and became focused on others and what she could do to affect change. I think she understands both sides of the coin Mars offers, because she’s lived through it. She could tell the story of Maleficent because at heart her story is real to her. It’s real and it matters.

I swear no harm will come

So what I loved about Maleficent is how it tells the story of the evolution of Mars, from the shadow side of it, the ugly, angry, wrathful, must-make-things-bleed experience, to the powerfully redemptive glory of it. Because Mars is also that part of us that gives us backbone, gives us courage, makes us stand up for the things we believe in. It shows us where we need to face our fears.

Maleficent is a wonderful retelling of Sleeping Beauty because in this version it isn’t the princess that wakes up from a death like slumber. In this version it’s the villain who wakes up, it’s the villain who saves the girl and in saving the girl, she saves herself. Now that’s a fairy tale for our time. That’s a myth we need, a story to tell our children. A story to tell ourselves.

I’ve been in a terrible stew for the past month, wrestling with my demons. Every time you let yourself down there is a hangover afterwards. Time was I ignored it, ignored what it was telling me, but I’ve learned now, I’ve learned that you can’t ignore it, you can’t leave it, it won’t go away on its own. The only thing for it is to face it head on.

Because the only good thing about seeing that you’ve made a terrible mistake is that you are no longer blind to your failing. It grants you choice. It’s a great and terrible thing, because it means waking up, and waking up isn’t always easy, but there is power in it. Raw, latent, gorgeous power.

I can feel it flexing in me now, shiny and dark, unfolding like wings. I don’t know where it’s taking me but I trust it. It won’t let me down. It won’t falter.

Leaving the theater my nephew grabbed my hand, pleading, “hold my hand, Auntie!” We walked past a kiosk with a young woman blowing bubbles and T ran after them for a bit. When he asked if we could get one I said yes, of course, because I’m a complete and total sucker. We spent the rest of the morning creating little iridescent worlds, chasing them, popping them, and then making some more.

He didn’t have to ask why I was crying again because I didn’t. I might have squeezed him a little too hard once or twice, but he didn’t seem to mind. After all, there were bubbles to blow.

The 12th House to Go!

MUST. HAVE. THIS. DRESS. The Personal Space Dress. For when people are just getting too close for comfort. Finally! You can get your 12th House to go! By Kathleen McDermott

Via Pleated Jeans