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.

 

 

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

All Men Must Die: The Upcoming Cardinal Cross

There’s a bunch of billboards all over town for the return of Game of Thrones.  They read ALL MEN MUST DIE in bold caps.  It simultaneously makes me laugh and sends a shiver right through me.  And it’s the perfect backdrop for the experience I’ve been having as Uranus, Jupiter, Mars, and Pluto all jockey into their positions around the zodiac, lining up around the wheel tightening the screws.

If all that sounds depressing and horrible, let me be clear: it’s not.  Not for me, anyway.  In fact, quite the reverse.  I’ve actually been having a ridiculously amazing time.  I know a lot of people are seriously going through it right now, what with one thing or another.  Susan Miller, whom I love, has even said that “April is so scary I’m giving classes in it.”  But although Pluto (he’s like the Darth Vadar of Astrologyland) has been transiting my Sun for over a year and I’m filled with enough apocalyptic scenarios to be able to direct you to a full page of posts about it, I’m actually just filled with such crazy hope and joy and life right now.

I’m a little reluctant to say why, because at the heart of what’s happening to me is something so private that I’ve actually been unable to write as freely as I normally do on my blog.  But I feel like I can’t convey the message I want to now unless I say this, because it really is at the heart of it all.  You guys, I met somebody!  Or, rather, that Venus retrograde in Capricorn washed up a past lover on my shores and he’s just sort of stuck around.  I know I should really be all cool and Capricorn about it and play it down, but MARS IS IN LIBRA you guys, in my NINTH HOUSE with MY MOOOOON and I have to tell you, I feel pretty damned certain that NOW IS NO TIME TO PLAY IT SAFE.

For realz.  On the contrary, I think now is the perfect time to break free of all your past stories about who you are or what’s possible and ask for what you want. Boldly, fearlessly, and with passion.  The trick is, as I said the other day, to do so without expectation.

Which is ultimately why I feel like it’s OK to reveal what’s happening with me right now.  Because the key phrase in that last sentence was right now.  As in, I’ve got no fucking clue what’s going to happen next week or next month or in a years time with this man.  Or without him, for that matter.

You know what I do know?  I know that I could die tomorrow.  Seriously.  There’s been a pile of earthquakes in California lately.  The one last Friday took place across a fault line which threatens “vulnerable older buildings, many made of concrete, in downtown Los Angeles,” you know, like, where I live.  No wonder that quake last Friday was the worst quake I’ve experienced in almost twenty years of living in California.  It was fucking terrifying, no joke.

Sorry for all the expletives, but I’m feeling vehement about all this.  Fucking vehement.

I noticed a hairline crack in the wall in my bathroom last night that wasn’t there before.  A crack in a wall 12 stories up from the ground that was made last week when the earth moved beneath us. I don’t just feel fragile, I am fragile.  We are all fragile.

Capricorns, as everybody knows, are notorious for needing to have control over things.  And Pluto’s transit through Capricorn has been seen as a harbinger of a certain kind of maniacal extremism for that.  Astrologers have been looking at everything from the NSA to the political unrest in middle east to describe the peculiar and potentially lethal “power run amok” experience that Pluto in Capricorn describes.  You add Uranus transiting through Aries into the mix and suddenly you’ve got resistance to that power, you’ve got Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring.

But what if the deeper message here was about releasing the need to control things?  What if it wasn’t about “fighting the man” or anything outside ourselves.  What if we just stopped pretending we had any real control over things at all.

What would be possible then?  What could we create if our acts of creation were less about defining who we were and more about asking?  What would it look like if we loved someone because he showed us where we were vulnerable?  What would it be like if being vulnerable wasn’t weak?

Because you know what?  All men really must die.  We’re all going to be six feet under soon enough.

There’s a marvelous piece by Stephen and Ondrea Levine that addresses this wonderful conundrum perfectly, I really cannot recommend the entire article enough, but they close with this:

If our only spiritual practice were to live as though we were already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing?  If we lived our life as though we were already dead, as though our children were already dead, how much time would there be for self-protection and the recreation of ancient mirages? Only love would be appropriate, only the truth.

This month offers wonderful opportunities to practice this across the board.  Dates to watch out for are the two eclipses on April 15th and the 28th, and of course, the 22nd through the 24th when the Cardinal Cross is exact.

Wherever the chips may fall, just remember that with Mars going through Libra it’s never been more important to fight for love, to open ourselves, to make ourselves vulnerable and to embrace the strength that comes from expressing who we really are without expectation of approval or recognition.  Give that to yourselves, Golden Hearts.  Give that to those around you.

They might surprise you, and if they don’t, you can at the very least, surprise yourself.

Be bold.  Be daring.  Be loving and  L I V E

 

 

An Open Love Letter to Libra

A Young Girl Defending Herself against ErosIn whatever way you come to me
in that way
shall I appear to you

-the Bhagavad Gita

I’ve got a lot of Libras on my hands right now either going through the ringer or just so damned hopped up on adrenaline they’re about to jump out of their skin. Not just Libra Suns, but Moons, Ascendents, and one poor dear with Venus in Libra in the 7th house. Of course, it’s this ruddy awful Mars retrograding in Libra that’s doing them in (well, that’s what I’m blaming it on, anyway).

I want to take a moment to chill with you, my darling darlings. Let’s take a deep breath together. I have some things I want to say to you.

Dear Libra,

You mad crazy romantic, you relentless optimist, you gorgeously generous lover, you are my favorite.  SHHH DON’T TELL ANYONE.

I know, I know, you’ve over-extended yourself. AGAIN. You’ve bit off more than you can chew and no one seems to appreciate it. AGAIN. The people in your life are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing and they are not letting you help them, dammit. Worse, the people you count on the most are the ones most likely to irritate the bejesus out of you these days.  Or maybe there’s just one person in your life who is super duper frustrating and all your powers of reconciliation and diplomacy are failing you somehow. wtf is up with that?!

Let’s take another deep breathe …In with the good air …and out with the bad.

Listen closely, Golden Hearts, because I’m going to tell you a secret and it’s a good one. And the best thing is, if you learn this now you won’t have to come back and learn it again later.

A Young Girl Defending Herself against Eros

You’re a lover, not a fighter, but that doesn’t always work out so well for you, does it?  Be honest, sometimes you compromise to the point where you don’t get a damned thing you really want and you just give it all up in the name of “peace” and “harmony.”  The problem is, Libra, that when you compromise that much there’s no harmony, there’s just you holding the damned bag and the other person with all the candy.  If you want real harmony, real peace, than you’ve got to be willing to put yourself on the line and say what you really want, name that thing that is really important to you and fucking ask for it.

The trick here is that you’ve got to do so without any expectation.  And this is hard for you, because you listen so damned hard to others.  You do your best to give them what they ask for, so to ask for something and not get it back is excruciating.  But it isn’t their responsibility to make sure you get what you ask for any more than it’s yours to make sure they get what they ask for.  You take that responsibility on because …well, because you’re a Libra and it’s just your nature, but make no mistake, just because you took on that responsibility doesn’t make it yours.  You’re not a God, Libra (well, maybe a little bit to me, you sexy beast, but I’ve got a Libra Moon, I’m probably biased).

This period of time has to do with fighting for love, which is a.) an oxy moron, and b.) really really hard to do, because it means making yourself vulnerable and that’s just SCARY.  It’s gonna take something. But let’s face it, Libra, if anyone can do it, it’s you. Here’s the deal, the planet Mars is bringing a fight to your door, but that restless angry energy tumbling around in you right now will release once you commit unconditionally to something you feel powerfully about and Libra is all about love and beauty.

A Young Girl Defending Herself against Eros

This other person or people that you are confronted with right now are not the real enemy, Libra.  The enemy is not outside you, it’s within you.  This is hard to see, but once you’ve seen it, it’s unavoidable.  It’s no good fighting for peace and harmony for both parties if both parties aren’t fighting for the same thing.  If you find yourself in a situation where your needs are not being met don’t wait for the other person to magically get it.  It may be obvious to you, but why would it be obvious to them if you haven’t said anything?  Not everyone listens the way you do, honey.  It’s special what you do, if everyone did it, it wouldn’t be special.  Own that shit.  Don’t wait for someone else to listen to you. You listen to you.

That Libra Venus in the 7th house I mentioned earlier just broke up with her boyfriend and lost a close girlfriend because she took a stand that her friend quit drinking. She’s suffering right now because she wants to only have mutually loving joyful feelings between herself and others, but her love has matured and she can’t support destructive behavior or partners that don’t give as much to her as she gives to them. She had to take a stand for the kind of love she believes in and these two people couldn’t meet her there. She’s sad, but she did the right thing.

She’s not feeling love from others right now and it’s painful, because she’s having to generate it all herself and right now her love is looking a lot like a giant NO and that doesn’t feel like love to her.  But the truth is, it’s the best kind of love she can offer those two right now.  Years ago I had to cut an alcoholic friend out of my life.  I just couldn’t pretend to be OK with watching him destroy himself anymore, I loved him too much to help him write that story.  It was really hard because he was profoundly hurt by it and there was no way to explain to him that I’d never loved him more than I did in the moment of saying goodbye.  Sometimes loving someone means cutting them loose.

A Young Girl Defending Herself against Eros

The trick here is to make yourself vulnerable.  You’ve got to stop trying to be what other people want you to be, stop trying to be a “good” girl or boy.  You’ve got to get all the way inside your own heart and be willing to listen.  Libra is good at listening to others, you’re good at hearing what they want.  Now you’ve got to listen for what you want and be willing to express it.  And to do that you may have to risk losing something you value.  But are false friendships or what people may think of you really more important to you than being yourself?  Now is no time for blaming other people for your circumstances, Libra.  Identify what you want and make a request or a demand.  Be bold.  Be generous.  Be loving.  Be fearless.

Be willing to lose.

This may sound strange, but I SWEAR it’s true: every single time I’ve broken my heart it’s just expanded in the end.  It’s like a series of nesting dolls in reverse.  You break the first one and you’ve actually got more room than before.  Maybe at some point we can break the last one and just be free.

I’m game, Libra.  Are you?