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.

 

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.

 

 

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 astrologer Gary Caton points out, 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.

 

 

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.

12th House of Loss & Transcendence

There’s a church in Glendale with the strangest sign out front. It lights up clean and bright at night. I passed once in the daytime and there was a security guard out front with a dark navy jacket with the word “SECURITY” emblazoned on the back. I asked if I could take a picture of him in front of the sign but he said, “no pictures, no pictures” and looked at me like I was trying to steal it.

I can still see him, all gruff and grizzled and silver haired, mad at me. It’s stuck in my mind’s eye. Him guarding that sign, keeping it safe.

And you know what? I wish I had security guarding my FAITH CENTER sometimes. When my faith gets shaken I often wish there was something standing between it and the outside world, some force that could alleviate the worst effects. But in truth I’m less and less convinced that yelling at people or trying to instill fear is the best way to go about it. In fact, the more my faith gets rattled the more convinced I am that the best security is almost always to open, not close. To surrender, not stand on guard.

But learning this didn’t come easy. I was born with my Sun in the 12th house of Loss & Sorrows. I’ve been losing what I wanted most since I was about nine years old. What I see now is that the actual things I’ve lost aren’t important, what’s important is how I’m just wired to think of things from the perspective of loss or gain, so I’ve felt losses acutely and feared them consequently. It’s taken me many years to appreciate how loss is actually a gift. Loss is a great teacher because it reveals the fundamental truth of reality. Resisting this truth causes more sorrow then the losses themselves.

But if you surrender, if you release yourself from the need to protect yourself from the inevitable, from loss, from failure, from betrayal, from the certainty of it, than you will tap into real power. Modern interpretations of the 12th house always say it’s about transcendence, but I’ve never seen a good explanation of why. In my opinion this is it, this is why. It’s because when you accept loss as inevitable life becomes precious. It becomes real.

Faith is its best when it comes to accepting things as they are, not as we want them to be. There’s this virulent notion in our culture that faith, the kind “you gotta have” is there for you to keep believing impossible dreams, to get you the money, the man, the house of your dreams, to keep your babies safe at night and to never let anything bad happen to anyone ever. And when bad things happen to you, it’s somehow your fault because you didn’t believe enough.

But real optimism, real joy, real faith starts from accepting things as they are, not as we want them to be. It’s no good wishing you hadn’t spilt the milk. If you want to clean it up you have to accept the fact of it, you can’t pretend things are anything other than what they are. And it requires determination to do so. It’s not for the faint of heart. You have to be willing to swallow some very bitter pills if you want to live in this world.

The Five Remembrances of the Buddhist faith speak eloquently to this:

I am subject to aging, I have not gone beyond aging

I am subject to illness, I have not gone beyond illness

I am subject to death, I have not gone beyond death

I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me

I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I fall heir.

Impermanence is the one absolute we can all unequivocally count on. How we be with that is all that we can control or should even attempt to.

It’s a paradox that the experience of being alive should make being mortal so hard to embrace. But accepting it is a relief. Accepting it makes it beautiful. Accepting it makes the present moment so precious.

I can’t say I accept it 100% of the time – more like 20% of the time, but that’s, like 20% more than I have since I was about nine, so I’m counting it a win. When my ex and I split I remember vividly at the heart of the anguish, at the heart of the despair, at the heart of the darkness, this overwhelming alertness. It was like being woken up.

So the funny thing is that I remember my faith most when I’ve lost something I really wanted, because it’s always then that I need to remember it most. It’s always when you’re down in it that you know what your faith really is or isn’t. I’m glad this is mine.

I will be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me

This is the center of my faith, and the truest security I’ve ever known.

 

What the Hell is an Eclipse?

Chani and I got together recently to talk about the upcoming solar eclipse in Taurus. And then when we started to make the video we realized what we really needed to do was talk about eclipses as a phenomenon in more depth, to explore what they mean to us and how we see them working in our lives and in our clients lives, so we made a second video to do just that and here it is.

Eclipses are a potent time for us to make connections between who we dream of being and who we actually are, watch the video and find out why.

Saturn’s Bitches Take on the Cardinal Cross

My girl Chani and I sat down Friday night to have a little chat about this month, because April is HOT HOT HOT. Truly, you guys, April is full of SERIOUS astrology. And Chani and I had some stuff to get off our chests because we are of the opinion that the only way out is through and we wanted to give you a heads up on how to deal with it.

We spend the first half talking a bit about the actual astronomical configurations that go into making this month one to remember but if you’re not interested in all that and you just want to know the skinny or the takeaway, then tune in around the 6:40 mark, ’cause that’s when we start to talk about what you can expect and how to frame the experience to get the most out of it.

Somewhere in there I mention that the Uranus Pluto Square forms for the last time next May, but it’s not May, it’s next March, so don’t worry, Precious Treasures, this revolutionary energy won’t last THAT much longer. We can do it.

And if you’re wondering why we call ourselves Saturn’s Bitches, it’s very simple. We swear like sailors, we’re stern and terribly hard on ourselves, we often wear black, we’re late bloomers, and most of all because we’re very very very serious, you guys. Seriously. Except when we’re not, but you might not know until Chani makes me start laughing and mess up the audio. Which is bound to happen at least once every time we shoot one of these damned things. It’s a shame, (more Saturn!) but it can’t be helped.

Peace out, my darlings! Good luck this month and may Saturn be with you! <3