December 2018: Faith in the Dark

November ends with a bang from the opposition of Venus in Libra to Uranus in Aries on November 30. The electricity will feel like excitement for some, and tension for others, and should linger throughout the weekend. If you’ve been planning to organize your feminist militia, today’s the day.

On December 1, Mercury moves back into Scorpio for the last week of their retrograde journey. With a trine from Chiron in Pisces and a sextile to the Moon in Virgo, Saturday (Saturn’s Day) is great for physical activity, cleaning, and doing whatever needs to be done to feel like your mental, emotional, and physical house is in order. At the start of Hanukkah on Sunday (Sun’s day), November 2, the Sun in Sagittarius will square Mars in Pisces and Venus will re-enter Scorpio. This interplay between fire (spirit) and water (emotions) will be a theme throughout the month as spirit invites us towards adventure and greater interaction with the larger world while our emotions guide us inward towards sensing and introspection. How we strike this balance will be unique for each of us. Be mindful of which part of you feels like it needs more accommodation and attention. We continue to ride this wave of balancing our drive and our dreams into the week as the Sun moves into a square with Neptune in Pisces on November 5.

The year of too many retrogrades concludes at last on December 6, when Mercury stations direct in Scorpio. Of course, they and Venus both need to clear their retrograde shadows, but the worst is finally over. The Sagittarius New Moon on December 7, in a square with Mars and Neptune conjoining in Pisces, continues to stir the elemental cauldron. If our emotions are a magic potion, and the heat is the spark needed to activate their power, then this Moon is inviting you to throw past, present, and future into the mix. Do a tarot reading for 2018. What did it all mean? What are you supposed to carry forward? What does the Goddess want you to leave behind? The seed you plant now will bloom at the Spring Equinox so set your intention wisely. Part of preparation for Winter is filling ourselves as full of the faith and hope of Sagittarius season as possible.

Mercury moves back into Sagittarius on December 12, and head towards a conjunction with Jupiter, which perfects on December 21, at the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, also known as the pagan holiday of Yule. Venus is in a trine to Neptune as the Sun enters Capricorn and the wheel of the year turns again to a new season. The Winter Solstice is the time of greatest darkness of Earth, but the light returns as the Goddess gives birth to the child she has been carrying since Summer. Although the God passed at Samhain, he has now been reborn through his son. This pagan mythology, which was adopted by Christianity and repackaged as Christmas, is a beautiful reminder that all life springs from death. The Sun, and allegorical son, will grow all through the long winter months, as light slowly gains on darkness. Many people struggle with the lack of sunlight during the Winter, but it is truly on the rise. The Goddess rests for three months after her labor, and the land lays fallow and barren, reminding us that the cold period is a time to draw inwards and restore ourselves.

Yule is celebrated with fire ritual using candles or logs, which you can inscribe with images of the Sun or God as you wish. As you gaze into the flame imagine the light within you growing stronger even as darkness covers the Earth. The night draws forth the light, just as our fears draw forth our faith. It takes faith to survive the Winter, to believe that Spring will come again. What do you need to sustain you through this period? Create a self-care plan for the next three months. The tension between water and fire, feelings and spirit, is present here, but Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign that wants you to initiate a grounding daily practice. Our ancestors couldn’t have survived the Winter without careful planning (am I right, Virgo?) and this Capricorn Sun encourages you to cultivate mindful habits to sustain yourself. New Year’s resolutions are a modern manifestation of this ancient instinct, but most of those intentions are quickly broken. Instead of trying to create a “better” version of yourself in 90 days, ask what you need to to feel your best just as you are right now. Gaze into the fire and imagine taking it into your body, into your heart, and then ask the Divine to help you connect with that light daily. For some people that’ll be moments of quiet reflection in the morning, for others lighting a candle at the end of each day, or praying in the car/train on your commute. What do you feel called to commit to? Whatever it is, make it manageable and easily incorporated into your existing routine.

The Cancer Full Moon on December 22, is opposed by a formidable lineup of Saturn, Pluto, and the South Node in Capricorn. We’re going to start having eclipses along the Cancer-Capricorn axis beginning in early January, putting the spotlight on issues of family and work. This Full Moon may give us a taste of what’s to come over the next 18 months. The Moon rules Cancer, and wants to do her loving, nurturing thing here, but this lunation could highlight the forces blocking those tender moments in your life. The desire to care for others often emerges from a desire to be cared for, but for many people it is easier to nurture our partners or children than it is ourselves. Let this Moon speak to you about the places you need support and the ways you can practice receiving. Ask for help, even if it feels hard, and be extra kind to yourself, even if it feels undeserved (you deserve it).

Mercury in Sagittarius squares Neptune in Pisces on December 24, which could confuse things a bit. If you make a list, be sure to check it twice. The Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, honoring Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, was held around the Winter Solstice, which is why Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Saturn was the ruler of the Golden Age, when it is said humans did not have to labor for the bounty of the earth, who signifies rules, traditions, and bondage. The human need for release, freedom, and equality was addressed during Saturnalia when social traditions were cast aside. Merrymaking went on for days with public feasting and dressing up carnival style. Gifts were exchanged, including gag gifts because Capricorns are the comedians of the zodiac. Gambling was permitted and slaves were treated as free people and the slave owners had to serve them at parties. Traditions are lauded during the December holiday season, but if they feel oppressive to you in any way, I encourage you to adopt a Saturnalian attitude and just do what you want. Flip things on their head and don’t take anything too seriously. See if that doesn’t infuse a bit more joy into whatever and however you celebrate.

New Years Eve begins on one note and ends with another as Mars leaves the chill waters of Pisces and enters the hot pocket of Aries on November 31, around 9:30PM EST. The warrior in his home sign could signal that a night which starts out mild could end on a more intense note. If you party, be responsible. Don’t go too hard, stay safe, and make sure you have a plan for how to get home. There’s a new day just around the corner. Can’t wait to see what 2019 holds in store for us.

Sagittarius: by Katerina Tsibouraki

November 2018: Light in the Heart

We begin the month on a sacred note. November 1 is All Soul’s Day / Dia De Los Muertos when Venus enters the birth phase of her synodic cycle. Cultures around the world consider this to be the time when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest. This is a wonderful time to visit cemeteries or build altars to honor your beloved dead. The spirit world reaches out to us now, and we have the opportunity to connect with loved ones who have moved beyond this realm and form. Venus reemerging on this day is a beautiful reminder that death is but a pause before a return.

Significant shifts start happening on November 6 when the Nodes of the Moon move from Leo and Aquarius to Cancer and Capricorn. The Nodes represent what we are growing into and away from; they are areas of gain and loss. Eclipses happen at these points, so they are places of power in the sky. This shift marks the end of of one eclipse cycle and the beginning of another. More will be revealed about what this mean for you in January when the next series of eclipses begin. Also on November 6, Retrograde Uranus will move from Taurus back into Aries until March 7, 2019. Uranus was in Aries from May 2010-2018, and is credited with inspiring the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Now he’s back to complete unfinished business and perhaps inspire more radical participation in democracy (vote!). Just before they all change signs, Uranus will square the Lunar Nodes infusing them with radical energy, letting us know that whatever is coming next year will have an even bigger dash of the unexpected and confrontational. On a personal level, November 6 is a great day to have a conversation about partnership with the Sun in Scorpio trining Neptune in Pisces. If the Venus retrograde has gotten you more in touch with what you do or don’t want in relationships–be they romantic, business, or platonic–this is a great day to share your visions and ideals for what you’d like to create. We’ll never achieve utopia, but it’s a beautiful dream to strive towards.

On the following day, November 7, we have a lovely Scorpio New Moon with Jupiter present in the final degree of Scorpio, giving us one last blessing of faith and emotional healing. This moon comes towards the end of the Venus retrograde, when our bright lady has just begun to show her face in the sky again. Wish upon this Moon for how’d you’d like to grow your self-esteem and what you’d like to cultivate in your community. Are the two intertwined? Where is the love for yourself reflected in your people? How do you show love for yourself by showing up for your people? Tell this Moon what you’d like to manifest and watch for the roots that take hold in the Spring.

The big news of the month–and I do mean big!–is Jupiter entering Sagittarius on November 8. The planet of truth and justice has been in Scorpio, the sign of sex and death, since October 2017, and during that time we’ve seen the rise of the Me Too movement and the public reckoning with the legacy of sexual violence in our culture. Jupiter rules judges, and the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was one of the final manifestations of his work to bring consciousness to this issue. Jupiter takes 12 years to orbit the Sun, and was last in Sagittarius from November 2006-December 2007. Think back to that time for clues as to what this next year might be like for you. Sagittarius is a sign of philosophy, freedom, and adventure. With Jupiter returning to his grand domicile, we may feel an expanded sense of optimism and faith, and perhaps a restlessness to break free from the old and head towards the new.

The other major sign change of the month is Mars moving into Pisces on November 15. Mars has been in Aquarius for five months, since May 17, and spent much of his time there retrograde. The Aquarian patch of sky has been well worn by Mars, and it is a sweet relief to see him gone from this conceptual realm. Mars in Pisces has a more emotive flavor. We may feel motivated around artistic projects and find the necessary drive to finish something we’ve been working on for a while. He joins Chiron and Neptune in Pisces, where he will stay until early January 2019. Mars is the warrior, so his time may be spent examining battle wounds, and learning how to heal instead of hurt. It should be quite a ride with Mars motorboating through these emo waters for the next six weeks.

On November 16, Venus stations direct in Libra and Mercury goes retrograde in Sagittarius. We’ve not been without a significant planet retrograde for half the year, so if 2018 was not all you hoped for in terms of forward motion and momentum, you can definitely blame it on the stars. Venus emerges from her retrograde victorious in her home sign of Libra, as the triumphant Morning Star warrior queen. The demons she encountered on her journey to the underworld were not able to hold her there, she is reborn and radiant, ready to take on whatever forces tried to bring her down. You may be feeling similarly right now, proud of yourself for what you’ve survived since October 5. Venus will begin moving slowly soon, but she will not pass from her retrograde shadow until December 18, so there’s still another month before everything shakes out. If you’re feeling a little worse for the wear, give it time.

Mercury is in their detriment in Sagittarius, opposite from their home sign of Gemini, so this retrograde may bring a bit more confusion than usual (ugh-oh). Mercury will be retrograde until December 6, when they station direct at 27 degrees of Scorpio, continuing the conversation about the retrograde topics and putting a final emphasis on the work of Venus and Jupiter. Rx Mercury squares Neptune in Pisces on November 17, and things could get lost very quickly. This is one of those batten down the hatches, back up your hard drive, and double check the directions kind of situation because Mercury in Sag is notorious for getting overwhelmed by details and Neptune in Pisces is like a dense fog rolling in. If you like to do holiday shopping early, don’t make big purchases or buy electronics while Mercury is retrograde.

The Sun enters Sagittarius on November 22, joining Jupiter at the great feast. We are in the darkest time of the year, but we do not despair because Sagittarius stokes our internal faith. The twinkling lights from the windows we pass reflect the shining of our hearts inside our chests. The following evening, November 23, is the Gemini Full Moon, illuminating the other size of the zodiac. Sagittarius is about the broad vision but Gemini loves the small details. Sagittarius asks why (and often answers, why not?), while Gemini accepts without question. Both signs are known for their appreciation of diversity, but with a square from Mars in Pisces, we may be urged to go deeper than either would prefer to delve.

The Sun conjoins Jupiter on November 26, and Mercury squares Mars. A planet in the same degree of the Sun is considered cazimi, to be in the heart, imbued with a sacred wisdom. Before and after this moment, the planet is being burned by the Sun, purified, but once enough distance has been gained, the seed that was planted grows in strength. In the days before Jupiter is cazimi, meditate on areas of life where you’d like to grow your faith and optimism. What do you long for but believe is not possible? The gap between the two can be filled by the light of the Sun in Sagittarius.

During Mercury retrograde we may continue old conversations or clear up unfinished business. The square from Mars on this day may give us a push to do just that, or it may feel like a needle in our side. If you feel compelled to communicate make sure your speech is not tinged with anger or anxiety, and if it is, take a pause and ground into yourself or the emotional truth of what you’d like to express. Think before you speak is generally a good slogan for Sagittarius season.

On November 27, Mercury conjoins the Sun and then Jupiter. Mercury goes retrograde more than any other planet and is cazimi three times a year. Even still, it is a significant moment when the messenger receives new marching orders. With this infusion from the Sun and blessing from Jupiter, the wisdom of Sagittarius season starts to integrate into our minds. You may feel divinely inspired on this day. Whatever flows in will help carry you through the darkness as we head towards winter. Honor the messages and those who deliver them, and most of all, heed the calling of your own heart.

Jupiter in Sagittarius by Johfra Bosschart

October 2018: Illumination from Within

I hope everyone has their black pointy hats ready because this October is going to be one of the witchiest on record. The planets that make nice are in Scorpio, the sign of sex and death, all month, and Venus will be retrograde for most of that time. Mercury and the Sun will join her and Jupiter there, so there will be a total mind, body, heart, and spirit alignment with the principle of darkness and regeneration. You probably won’t need a costume to feel like you’re living in a liminal space this Halloween. There’s no telling who or where we’ll be by the end.

On September 30, Pluto, the God of the Underworld, stationed direct in Capricorn where his formidable influence has been felt most intensely related to debates around social hierarchy and abuse of power. The Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing has forced a confrontation with our relationship to sexual violence and whether we will allow such abusive traditions to continue. One thing’s for certain, this issue is at the heart of what we as a collective are grappling with this month. Mercury in Libra will square Pluto on October 2, seeking a remedy for this spiritual sickness we are afflicted by, and perhaps bringing more legal developments.

The planet of justice and truth, Jupiter, has been in Scorpio since last October, during which the #MeToo movement rose to prominence, and he will be leaving for Sagittarius on November 8. Venus entered Scorpio on September 9, where she is in detriment, to spend Jupiter’s remaining days in the cold waters with him. On October 5, Venus, as an evening star, will station retrograde, and begin her descent into the underworld where she will confront her fears, allow a piece of herself to pass away, and receive a new transmission of life before rising again as a morning star. Venus completes this retrograde process every eight years. Consider where you were in October 2010, and what themes you were dealing with in your interpersonal relationships. Those same dynamics, patterns, or issues may resurface during this retrograde period that will be marked by several distinct stages. From October 5-20, you may be grappling with surrender. This is a come or be dragged kind of process. It works best if you align yourself with the energy and participate. Most people prefer Venus happy and cooperative. We want love and closeness and security. But although that is the most popular story told of Venus, the Divine Feminine has many other faces and facets and you will see them all this month. If you wish for divine assistance on your journey, enlist the aid of Hekate, the triple faced goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, ghosts, and the Moon, to light your passage through the underworld as she did for Demeter when searching for Persephone.

There is a Libra New Moon on October 8, that speaks to the need for balance and harmony in your home life. If the scales are unfairly tipped in one direction, that will be felt and most likely commented upon. Both lunations this month are ruled by Venus, so they will be flavored and colored by her retrograde experience. What positive qualities do you want to cultivate in order to see you through this journey? Bravery, faith, courage, fortitude, discipline, compassion? Wish upon the New Moon and Selene may make it so.

Mercury enters Scorpio on October 9, which helps the mind catch up with the feelings of the moment. Honor any instincts you have to improve physical health. The following day, October 10, Mercury opposes Uranus and Venus squares Mars, so let yourself cut loose creatively. Dance, paint, sing, or f*ck the pain away. Let yourself be free, if only (but especially), in your mind. Mercury will conjunct Venus on October 15. This is the perfect evening to get out your tarot cards and query the universe on what you’re meant to be learning right now. Write down any insights that come to you and be sure to thank the Gods for speaking through the deck.

The Sun moves into Scorpio on October 23, reminding us that this Venus retrograde is all about Our Bodies and Ourselves. How we feel about ourselves impacts our physical health. How we were raised to see ourselves is often reflected in the partners we choose. We project the qualities we most wish to embody on to another at the beginning stages of love, but when that illusion fades, we may then project the qualities about ourselves we most dislike and fear. This retrograde is about facing Shadow material in the mirror. We all come in alone, and that is how we go out. Relationships begin and end, but the one that comes first is the one with yourself. Who were you forbidden from being when you were young, and how do you forbid yourself now? Who would you most like to be and why do you believe that is not possible? This is a day to commit to radical self love and acceptance. If you have a story of why you are a bad person, write that all down and then set fire to it (safely). Scatter the ashes in the earth and let it fertilize new growth. The past is over. May we learn from it and then be done with it. (This is a great ritual to do the following night at the Full Moon).

There is a Taurus full Moon on October 24, which is ruled by Venus from across the zodiac. The Moon is exalted in Taurus because our watery emotions enjoy a nice sturdy container of Earth. However, for the next 7 years while Uranus is in Taurus, these lunations will be mixed with a challenging volatile energy. This Moon is up close and personal with Uranus, and with retrograde Venus deep into her underworld journey, it may illuminate some of the brackish mire that she is working through.

On October 26, retrograde Venus will conjunct the Sun at 3 degrees Scorpio. Three is a sacred number to the Goddess, representing the three phases of life: youth, maturation, and the wise crone. It is the young Venus that our society idealizes. It is the mature Venus in her full power and strength that is feared and has been reviled. It is the crone who’s wisdom is discredited and ignored. No longer. On this day, in the darkest place of our sorrows, the Sun implants the seed of a new beginning. If the past three weeks were a struggle, (or three months or three years), know that the loss was clearing away a space for the new. The fresh light of the Divine shines renewed within us, and slowly grows, gestating to bring forth a new life.

On October 31, Venus will oppose Uranus before retrograding back into Libra on the most sacred Wiccan sabbat, Samhain, the Witches New Year. This evening is a culmination of the power and promise that was birthed at Beltane in the Spring, and a portal into the dark half of the year. It is the day when the veil between the living and the dead is the thinnest, and many cultures around the world believe that spirits of ancestors visit during this time. The celebrations of Dia de Los Muertos and All Saints Day on November 1, are the continuation of unbroken traditions from indigenous cultures that honor the dead by visiting cemeteries, cleaning and decorating gravestones, building altars, and making offerings.

Samhain marks the third feast of the harvest and the passage of the God into the underworld. The Goddess mourns his loss and wishes him safe passage, comforted with the knowledge that he will be reborn at Yule, the Winter Solstice, on December 21. On this night we look both backwards and forwards as we contemplate with loving thoughts those we have lost, release anything we don’t wish to carry into the new year, and set a magical intention that will grow in the womb of darkness for the next six months. You may want to construct several altars, one for your dearly departed, and one for what you wish to begin. Set a clear and positive intention for yourself and adorn your space with images of what you wish to bring into being. This is also a excellent evening to conduct a spells for all of humanity. Perhaps one to bring about the death of the patriarchy and another to usher in a new egalitarian society? The choices are endless and you can’t go wrong as long as you remember the Witches creed: Do as ye will, but harm ye none.

The following day, November 1, Venus is reborn, rising before the Sun as a morning star in her warrior queen role in Libra. What was learned from the retrograde will slowly emerge in the coming weeks before she stations direct again on November 16.

May the light of the Goddess illuminate you from within as you traverse this hallowed and harrowing terrain. Though we may walk in darkness, we are never alone. Blessed be.

Art: Crone Goddess – Keridwen by Shirley Wellstead  

September 2018: the Cool Down


September is here, we’re winding down from the intensity of the Summer of Retrograde, but it won’t be Fall for another two weeks. August was something of a torrid scorcher, no? The final heatwave at the end was a fun reminder of how hot and uncomfortable the Sun can make us. Even my cats were complaining. Of course, Mars was helping. The hot and dry red planet has been at maximum brightness all Summer, and is the second closest to the Earth that he’s been in 60,000 years (the actual closest was in 2003, and he won’t be that close again until 2287). Mars stationed direct at his exalted degree of 28 Capricorn on August 27, which set us up to start September on better footing than we’ve been since he went retrograde on June 26, but he’s still moving slow in the sky right now, and the themes explored during the last two months of his backwards motion will be active through October.

Our beloved trickster, Mercury, was retrograde in Leo from July 26-August 19; the trouble caused during this period would have been a bigger deal if everyone hadn’t just been trying to survive the eclipses. Getting trapped in airports with flights delayed, cancelled, and rerouted, or losing luggage and having to buy all new gear, these were minor inconveniences compared to what other people were going through. It’s really all about perspective and hopefully this Summer grew your patience, stamina, and compassion.

Mercury has been in Leo for a long time, since June 29, and on their way out the door, they’ll blow Venus in Libra a parting kiss on September 3. On this day you’ll be able to share your thoughts and feelings with adroitness so use the moment well. It’s a great time to enjoy the company of friends by taking in the theater or having a spirited debate over dinner. Mercury zips into their exalted home sign of Virgo on September 5, and enters into a conjunction with Athena, empowering our speech and mental alacrity throughout that weekend.

The push forward continues when Saturn in Capricorn stations direct on September 6, adding emphasis to the grand earth trine with Mercury in Virgo and Uranus in Taurus that we’ve been feeling for several weeks. Saturn is known as the Lord of Karma or Lord of Time, and his entrance into his pragmatic home sign of Capricorn on December 19, 2017, was a much anticipated astrological moment. Wherever we find Saturn, we find the need for commitment, hard work, and perseverance. Saturn will be in Capricorn until December 2020, so we have another 2.5 years of slowly building in this area of our lives (look to the house Capricorn rules in your natal birth chart to see where this will affect you personally). On a large scale, expect this transit to cause both a hardening of rules and boundaries and a dismantling of unjust systems and processes. The humanitarian crisis happening on the US/Mexico Border with government officials separating children from their parents and holding them in for-profit detention centers, and the resulting demand for immediate immigration policy reform has been one prominent manifestation of Saturn in Capricorn.

If you have a brilliant idea that must be shared make sure you consider all the angles on September 7, when Mercury trines Uranus in Taurus and Saturn in Capricorn, and the Sun in Virgo is opposed to Neptune and Pisces. People are going to want to know how you intend to carry out your grand plan before they’ll believe you can make it work. There’s a hint of confusion in the air so it might be a good time to dream alone with your sketchpad before bringing anything to the table. The best strategy may be to root down into what you wish to manifest by keeping it a secret for the moment.

Venus has been in her airy high tower of Libra since August 6, which helped to cool down hot tempers, but a bit of passion flares at the end with a square to Mars on September 8. This is a great day to go for what you want. Show up in the world as your most beautiful and best self to attract in what you most desire. Reception is just as powerful as action, so call forth what you wish to conjure, but don’t get mad if it isn’t delivered right away. Things are going to get a bit more murky the following day, on September 9, when Venus descends into the deep, dark waters of Scorpio where she’ll remain for the rest of the year. It’s going to be a very Scorpio Fall, so don’t be surprised if your love life gets a big dose of ardor, obsession, intensity, and transformation in the coming months. Venus will enter her retrograde period on October 5; we’ll have both the active and reflective wisdom of the Scorpio teaching us about love, sex, death, healing, and everything in between for the remainder of 2018.

You may have been on a cleaning spree since the Sun entered Virgo on August 23. Virgo season is a time to get organized and clear; make sure the sacred spaces in your home get wiped, dusted, and blessed, if they haven’t already. This mutable earth sign, symbolized by the harvest maiden, is spiritual because she values and creates G.ood O.rderly D.irection. The Virgo New Moon on September 9, is opposed by Neptune in Pisces and in a trine with Pluto in Capricorn. The nature of Virgo is to appear as having it all together all the time, and it’s her preference to believe that’s really true, but this Moon may bring visions and desires knocking on the door that don’t fit in with her perfect plan. The power of vulnerability is that once we have acknowledged and grappled with what is challenging to reconcile, we don’t have to fear or ignore it anymore. The struggle to self-actualize is real, but Mercury in Virgo can help us integrate the emotional wisdom of this Moon into the mental realm, making us more effective agents for change.

We’ll get another taste of earth sign rebellion and restriction on September 12 when Venus moves into an opposition with Uranus and a sextile with Saturn, while Jupiter, co-present in Scorpio, sextiles Pluto in Capricorn. Thankfully, the discerning insight of the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena, in Virgo, is helping Venus make sense of these contradictory elements and impulses. You may receive guidance about the kinds of changes you need to make internally to have the kind of relationship you want to have with others. If there’s power plays going on at work, make sure you have the support you need at home to feel secure on the job.

Mercury enters Libra on September 21, and the following day, the Sun departs from Virgo, officially ending Summer. The Sun’s entrance into Libra, the sign of it’s fall, on September 22, initiates the start of a new season: Fall. The Sun is exalted in Aries at the Spring Equinox, the beginning of the time of the most light in the year. The Autumn Equinox marks the transition to the dark period when the Sun is in his decline and night is longer than day. But on the first day of both Aries and Libra, at the 00 degree point, there is a space of balance, a moment of harmony in the world with equality between dark and light, day and night. It is an excellent time to walk in nature and pray for peace.

The Autumnal Equinox, Mabon, as the Gaelic pagan festival is known, is a time to thank Gaia, Goddess of the Earth, for the harvest’s gleanings and turn our attention to preparing for the transition to the cold period. In mythology, the solar God further recedes, reading to leave his body at Samhain, Halloween, on October 31. In this momentary evenness before the waning light we may consider what has grown in our lives since March 20? If you set intentions at the Vernal Equinox, what has come of them? Take a moment to appreciate the growth, however miniscule. Thank yourself and the universe for what you’ve created together in the past 6 months, and for the truths that’ve been revealed, even if you weren’t seeking them. Let your heart be full remembering all you have received. Set new intentions for the coming shadowy time of the year, and be sure to include a radical relationship with fiery healing and deep commitment to mental health and wellbeing. No one can survive winter on their own, so make sure community is well featured in your plan.

The Aries Full Moon on September 24, amplifies the Equinox energy into our bodies as the Sun in Libra is in a T-square with the Moon and Chiron in Aries, and Saturn and Vesta in Capricorn. This lunation is ruled by Mars who won’t clear his retrograde shadow until October 8, so we may not be feeling in our full glory at this time. But we don’t value the things we win easily as much as those we struggle to achieve. There is a philosophical mood to this Moon. Humans are drawn to astrology and other forms of divination not just because they help us understand when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, but because they remind and reassure us of the Divine love present in all moments that can help us to face the world, good and bad, with equanimity and grace.

Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

Virgo Art: Ryland Smith

August 2018: the Bounty & the Blessings

The start of August finds us at an unusual impasse with five planets retrograde–Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto–and a couple of asteroid friends too, like Chiron. The feeling in the air is more like waiting than progressing, but all of this arrested energy is building within the container of eclipse season, when life speeds up and unexpected events happen. This contradictory dynamic can be challenging because movement is stilted, yet what is happening feels completely out of our control. Remember that basic Mercury retrograde good practices are not to make any major purchases, buy electronics, sign contracts, or start something new during this time if you can avoid it. Of course, life marches on, and many happy people have done all of those things during a Mercury retrograde and lived to be just fine. However, make sure to read the fine print, review details twice, buy the warranty, and most important of all, try to stay flexible, especially when traveling.

The desire for action is heightened on August 1, when Mars squares a soon to be retrograde Uranus. This is the second of three squares the red planet will make to the great Liberator, but since Mars is the closest to the Earth he has been since 2003, this one may be felt the most profoundly. The first occurred on May 16, so there may be a continuation of themes from that time, and the final square will happen on September 18. Breakthroughs are often preceded by breakdowns so if you’re worried you’re headed for the latter, it may just be a prelude before the former.

There is much to celebrate at the beginning of the month because August 1 is the pagan festival of Lughnasadh/Lammas, the first harvest, when people give thanks to the earth for sacrificing her bounty. If you like you can decorate your altar with flowers, grain, corn dollies, freshly baked loaves of bread, and images of the Sun. This is an approximate halfway point between the Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox and there is a mingling of moods. We’re in Leo season, the Sun is high in the sky, fruit is ripe on the trees, and the fields are abundant with crops. This is Gaia in her full glory, yet contained within this moment of Summer grandeur is the promise of the Fall because the Sun has already peaked and light is on the descent.

Ancient people wove the astronomical cycle into their mythology. The movements of the Sun were illustrated through the life cycle of the God. The Goddess was constant throughout the year, but the God lived and died over and over, being born from her anew only to pass again in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. At the Summer Solstice/Litha the Green God, in full strength, joined with the Goddess, but there is a bittersweet element to Lughnasadh as the pregnant Goddess realizes that her consort is fading. Although the God will eventually die in the Fall, he will live on through the child the Goddess is carrying, their son (Sun). The myth reminds us of the preciousness of life because change is the only constant, and this too, shall pass. Lughnasadh is a wonderful time to connect with your appreciation of Gaia for the gift of food that sustains and nourishes 7 billion bodies all over the world everyday. Make a ritual out of a meal and thank the thousands of human hands that contributed to creating your plate, most of all the farmers and farm workers.

Harmony and peace are the order of the day as Venus enters her home sign of Libra on August 6. Symbolized by the scales, Libra is an air sign, which rules the mental realm, and seeks balance and justice. Venus will stay here until September 9, helping us to learn how to live in right relationship with all beings. The following day, August 7, we have another earth shaking event, as Uranus stations retrograde, adding to the backward motion in the sky. The Awakener will be retrograde for the remainder of the year, retreating into Aries on November 7 and giving us another taste of fire. Until then, he will retrace his steps through Taurus, reminding us of what he came to build with the Venus ruled earth sign.

The last eclipse of the year occurs at the Leo New Moon on August 11, which is an excellent night to set intentions about self-actualization and self-expression. Speak your mind if there’s something that needs to be said, but make sure the words flow from your heart. If others are not able to receive it, let them be. Focus on doing you because that’s really the point of all this, to shine your beautiful light out.

Mercury emerges from their retrograde period as a morning star on August 19, infused with the wisdom of their travels and ready to begin a new cycle. Still in vibrant Leo and square Jupiter, there may be a playful spontaneity to our speech and thoughts, but try to temper any overly enthusiastic impulsiveness. The Sun leaves it’s happy domicile for the cooler climes of restrained Virgo on August 23. While in Leo the Sun loves to romp and play, but Virgo has a To Do list and free time comes last. We now turn our attention to getting clear about priorities and organized about how to carry them out. If you’ve neglected your nest a bit during the busy bustle of Summer, beautify now as you settle into spending more time indoors during cooler days.

There is a luscious full moon in Pisces on August 26, co-present with Neptune, the modern ruler of Pisces, God of the Ocean, and trine Jupiter. Neptune has a mystical aura, and heightens psychic sensitivity. This would be a great night to convene that coven you’ve been dreaming about, and practice scrying together with your crystal ball. The Sun in Virgo is opposite this Moon, and trining Saturn in Capricorn, reminding us that our big visions need to be grounded in the earth to take root. The danger of Neptune is the desire to bypass the messy and mundane physical world on the quest for spiritual enlightenment, but that doesn’t work because our body is the entry point for experiencing the wisdom of the Divine.

Our will returns in full force on August 27 when Mars goes direct in Capricorn where he is exalted. After two months retrograde, since June 26, Mars is ready to get to work again. Enjoy this day and notice if you feel different now that Mars is moving forward again, especially people with Aries or Scorpio Sun or Moon. Although Uranus went retrograde in August, we are leaving the month in a better position than we came in with Mercury and Mars back in action.

By the end of the month you can give yourself a pat on the back for having survive eclipse season. We may continue to feel some reverberations till the Virgo New Moon on September 9, but the hardest part is behind us. Enjoy the heat of August and remember to gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Much love.

May 2018: Major Movements & Unexpected Arrivals

beltane

Happy Beltane, Witches!
May Day is known around the world as a labor holiday, International Workers Day, when we honor those who fought and died for fair wages, safe conditions, time off, and ethical standards in the workplace. However, an even older tradition is the celebration of the rites of Spring, the pagan festival of Beltane on May 1.

The Wiccan Sabbats were considered holy by ancient peoples because they marked changes to the light in the sky and seasons on Earth. The Wheel of the Year turned on eight days of power: the Winter and Summer Solstice, Vernal and Autumnal Equinox, and mid-points in between. The mythology surrounding these moments illustrate the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth as told through divine figures, the Goddess and God. The particulars differ for every culture, and I encourage you to investigate the deities and stories of your own ancestors. Reconnecting with these lost traditions can help us feel more connected to the divine in our modern daily life.

The Sun is now in Taurus and we are midway through Spring. Passion and vitality are returning to Earth, and life bursts forth in color. At Beltane the Goddess and God join together in fertility rituals to bring life back to the land. Garlands were braided to signify their sacred union. People often rose at dawn to gather fresh flowers and green branches to decorate their homes and altars. May poles were erected in town squares and people danced around them ecstatically. Hopes and dreams were written on paper and thrown into cauldrons symbolizing the womb of the Goddess who becomes pregnant with life once more.

On May 1, take special time to notice the young flowers and budding trees. Thank the beautiful magnolia and cherry blossoms that fill our hearts with hope that Summer is on her way. Celebrate the life that is yours in whatever way makes you feel vivaciously vibrant.

May is a month of big changes and many important beginnings. Things might start out quiet, but there’s a big bang in the galaxy at the Taurus New Moon, on Tuesday, May 15, when Uranus, the planet of rebellion and revolution, enters Taurus for the first time since 1942. Unexpected and sudden shifts are Uranus’ specialty, and she will stay in this earth sign until 2026, giving a massive overhaul to our relationship with Gaia and how we collectively work with natural resources.

Later that evening, Mars ingresses into Aquarius for a five month stint during which he will square Uranus three times. These squares are going to shake up at least two major areas of our lives. Check out my weekly Instragram posts for more information, or better yet, book a chart reading to learn more because the shock waves will continue to reverberate for a long time.

After a wild ride through Aries, Mercury will finally enter Taurus on May 13,rolling out the welcome wagon for Uranus when she arrives. This conjunction is like the town crier having a politico upstart staying at their house. Uranus is going to announce what she intends to do in big bold letters that week for all the world to hear. The far-out outer planet’s influence is going to be FELT the week on May 14. Pay attention to what you learn and what starts to move (possibility in an erratic fashion). Venus glides into Cancer on May 19, but her reception will be a bit bumpy because of an immediate sextile from Uranus. You can’t protect yourself from these waves, but you can intend to be flexible.

The Sun enters Gemini on May 20, putting an emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge and greater understanding. Gemini is an air sign that rules the mind, and for the next four weeks there will be an emphasis on creative problem solving, which is a good thing since Uranus will be stirring so much up. Mercury, the ruler of Gemini, joins the Sun here on May 29, giving a boost of alacrity to all communication projects. However, Gemini can be impulsive and enjoys quick movement. Be sure to think things through thoroughly and involve others before carrying out your brilliant plans.

The Sagittarius Full Moon, on May 29, reminds us that information without application is just mental machinations. It is not enough to collect the data, study the notes, and the test. We then have to practice the craft in order to master it. Praxis makes perfect, and without constant reflection and revision we become stale and stagnated. Let this full Moon imbue you with the confidence and enthusiasm to keep pushing past your growth edges. Be bold and share yourself with a wide audience. Let the universe carry you in whatever direction it desires. Make this beautiful line from beloved author, Toni Morrison’s novel, Song of Solomon, your mantra for this Moon: “If you surrender to the wind you can ride it.”

Beltane art by Catherine Pleased