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

July 2018: Pause and then Plunge


Welcome to Cancer season. The summer has truly begun and the Sun is bright in the sky, but July is marked by retrogrades and eclipses. In order to understand these powerful cosmic moments of slow down and speed up, we need to examine the mythology and history of the planets involved in the astral dance we’re witnessing.

The month starts on a spicy note when Mercury, the God of Communication, enters Leo, on June 29, and immediately squares Uranus, letting us know communication is going to be heated for a while. The Sun is in the watery sign of Cancer, illuminating our need for healing on a collective and personal level. We want to be especially mindful of our speech on July 5, when Chiron, the wounded healer, stations retrograde in Aries, while the Sun trines Jupiter in Scorpio, and Mercury opposes Mars in Aquarius. It’s going to be a day with big feels and even bigger words. The medicine of this moment may go down better with a teaspoon of sugar, but we’re more likely to pour gasoline on the whole thing and light a match.

Chrion’s movement from placid Pisces into firey Aries in April signaled a shift in the way we approach healing. Chiron was a centaur, half-man half-horse, who was disowned by his parents, Saturn and Philyra, and mentored by Apollo and Artemis. Renown for his wisdom as a teacher and skills as a healer, he was credited with the discovery of botany and pharmacy, but sustained a wound that even his knowledge was unable to remedy, and was in such anguish that he begged to be made mortal so he could die. With Chiron in Aries, we’re experiencing an urgent call to action around our deepest wounds, and the retrograde period until December 9, is an invitation to consider how and where we enter this work. Our challenge is to approach these painful places with devotion and a true heart without flaming too bright and trying to run roughshod over our tenderest parts.

Venus enters Virgo on July 9, and our aesthetic sensibilities turn towards the earthy and refined. The perfectionist impulse of Virgo is best channeled towards art and beautifying your home, rather than trying to “fix” yourself or anyone else. The following day, July 10, Jupiter’s retrograde ends, and he stations direct in Scorpio. Getting access to the full power of the great benefic lends much needed assistance to our navigation of the catalytic eclipses that begin shortly thereafter.

Last year, the “great American” total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, at 29 degree of Leo, inspired millions of people to migrate to remote areas of the country to witness an astronomical event. Whether or not those pilgrims believe in astrology, they responded to a primal instinct that it’s a big deal when the Moon causes the light of the Sun to be completely obscured on earth, so they joyfully organized their precious summer vacations to drive hundreds of miles (sometimes after flying thousands) to stand in the middle of a field with strangers and stare up at the sky wearing flimsy plastic glasses. The draw of the eclipse signaled a shift in our collective consciousness. There was a public demonstration of consensus that the connection between the stars and human lives can be felt in our bodies. The next total solar eclipse in the USA is not until April 24, 2024, but an eclipse is not a rare event.

There are two eclipse seasons a year with up to three eclipses per season. Yet their power is mighty, their cycles complex, and their significance contested. The Leo/Aquarius eclipse cycle that began on February 10, 2017, shortly after the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, and will continue through January 2019, is an exploration of who we are as a collective and what it says about us as individuals. The impact of the August 2017 eclipse was highly debated ahead of time by astrologers because it fell on Trump’s ascendant, and cast the biggest shadow across the states that popularly supported his candidacy. Eclipses have always held great significance for heads of state, and many predicted the energy would either bring about his political downfall or solidify his power. A solar eclipse creates a container that is most powerfully felt for the next 6 months, but can have reverberations for the next 19 years.

This summer we have a trifecta of eclipses spanning July and August, and the first is a partial solar eclipse at the New Moon in Cancer on July 12. This eclipse initiates a new cycle between Cancer-Capricorn, triggering dynamics between archetypes of the loving mother and stern father, that will continue to play out over the next three years. This New Moon is opposed by Pluto, which can bring a frightening depth, but let that heaviness facilitate a deeper plunge into Cancer’s healing emotional waters.

A brightness returns when the Sun enters it’s home sign of Leo on July 22, and our spirit is inspired to shine out. Take time to appreciate yourself and those around you for the light and love they bring to your life. Remember to lay in the soft grass or warm sand and absorb the healing rays of the biggest luminary in our galaxy. The Sun will trine Chiron and square Uranus on July 25, reminding us that sometimes we have to break with the past to move into the future as the people we’re meant to become. Mercury stations retrograde on July 26 until August 19, emphasizing our origin story, and what is required for our spiritual evolution around issues of family, roots, and ancestry.

The biggest event of the month comes at the end with the Full Moon in Aquarius total lunar eclipse on July 27. This blood Moon is with Mars and squared by Uranus, so the impulse may be to radically cut away all that which is holding you back. However, hold off on making any drastic decisions around interpersonal dynamics or health issues until this martial energy has been fully integrated. People will probably be having a hard time in the days leading up to and following, so make sure to practice compassion for yourself and others. Try not to say anything you can’t take back, but if you don’t act your best, remember that a sincere apology coupled with a change in behavior goes a long way to mending rifts. Offer whatever you’d like to compost in your life or the world up to the purifying flames of Chiron in Aries, and ask Saturn to help you dedicate to a practice to be the change you want to see in the world.

The energy of July is like fireworks. Bright bursts will light up our lives and pass away quickly. Allow yourself to appreciate what is beautiful, and regard the drama with a healthy detachment, but don’t get distracted from that which is yours to do. There is more to come in August, and we need to pace ourselves in order to keep up with this summer that wants us to grow as fast and abundantly as the crops in the field. Take it step by step, and you’ll harvest a bounty in the fall.

March 2018: A Tale of Water & Fire

ostaraWe glide into March on the seas of love and dreams with Juno, the Sun, Neptune, Mercury, Venus, and Chiron all in the water sign of Pisces. It’s an emotional full house. With Venus sitting close to Chiron that first week, don’t be surprised if old hurts resurface for no apparent reason.

The usual response from our rational mind is to push away such feelings, but logic is no buoy in this deluge. The tide is too high. We need to put on our goggles and go diving. These particular memories are surfacing from our subconscious because we are ready to release them on a deeper level. Ask what they came to share, thank them for the wisdom of their teachings, and then send them back into the abyss to be transformed into something new.

The Virgo full moon on Thursday, March 1 (Happy Purim!), offers an earthy, grounding respite to the flood. We may finally feel like we’re back on solid land, if only for a night. Virgo is a detail oriented analytical sign, so take full advantage of this energy by working on a task that’s been needing your attention. Writing projects may feel particularly inspired. Don’t worry if you don’t finish though, Virgo would keep you trapped at your desk, and Thursday night is too sweet to miss. Enjoy connection through communication, creative arts, and nourishing meals. The moon in earth sign Virgo wants you to take care of your body and treat it right, whatever that means to you.

The Pisces new moon on Saturday, March 17, is an excellent time to reflect on what we’ve learned over the past month from all the emotional upheaval. The goal of Pisces is to commit to a vision or ideal. What dream does your heart sing to you? Whisper this goal, no matter how lofty, to the new moon. You may be amazed at what seeds sprout because spring is just around the corner.

March 17 is also St. Patrick’s Day, which commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. For many modern witches, the legend of St. Patrick driving out the snakes from Ireland is a metaphor for the banishment of the ancient goddess worship of the divine feminine. Although many pagan practices were outlawed, much of the old traditions were incorporated into new rituals. The custom of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is connected to the celebration of the rites of spring.

Pisces closes out the winter, and in many places, the thaw has already begun. The sun moves into Aries on Tuesday, March 20, at the spring equinox, initiating the beginning of the zodiacal new year. The vernal equinox is one of the two days of the year when there is a complete balance between night and day, light and dark. It is a perfect time to take a walk in nature and meditate on the changes you feel in the air. This is also the Wiccan sabbat of Ostara, the fertility festival celebrating life returning to the land. Eat and plant seeds literally, metaphorically, and most of all joyfully, all day long.

By the end of the month, all the inner planets will have moved into fire and earth signs and we may feel quite a different tempo from the beginning. There is a blue moon on March 31 with the full moon in Libra that should provide some much needed fresh air. Blue moons don’t have astrological significance but simply connote the second full moon in a month. Libra is the sign of justice and equality, and this moon may illuminate the progress we have made in these areas, both individually and collectively, since Jupiter left the sign in October 2017.

March is a month with two distinct sides and personalities. Take these big lunar moments to reflect and pause, and if you ever feel lost, just look up.