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

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

April 2018: Get Grounded to Shine Bright

Spring renewalApril opens with a continuation of several strong events that closed out March. Much to everyone’s collective horror, Mercury stationed retrograde in Aries on March 22, and it has been a doozy so far. The need to be independent and develop self-awareness is paramount to Aries, and while the planet that rules communication is in the fire sign of the warrior, we may find ourselves speaking without thinking. That can be good if you’re finally able to be honest about things you’ve been holding back, but consider what you say before you say it. A good guideline to consider is: does it need to be said, does it need to be said by me, and does it need to be said right now? If all three answers are yes, then please speak your truth, but remember that there is a dearth of kindness in public discourse right now. Be the change you want to see in the world by assuming the best of people, and speaking with diplomacy and tact in all settings.

Mercury will station direct on April 15, but the residual effects will linger for at least a week after. Back up your computer, save your work frequently, double check your receipts, and beg for mercy because this retrograde is exposing all those weak spots you didn’t know you had.

The new moon in Aries is also happening on Sunday, April 15. New moons are a time of reflection and renewal, and this moon is full of questions about innovation and employment. What you do for a living may not reflect who you are as a person, but how you carry out that work most certainly is. Are there changes you could make that would help you work smarter not harder? Seek out inspiration and allow yourself to jump down it’s rabbit hole. You may pop up with some fresh ideas.

On Saturday, March 31 (happy Passover!), the Full Moon in Libra coincided with Venus entering into her earthy home sign of Taurus. A planet in it’s home sign is in its full power. They have the maximum ability to carry out their work in the world, and what Venus likes to make is love, beauty, art, and connection. In Taurus, she especially wants to do these things at home, in nature, and with a steadfast resourcefulness. Fortunately, Venus will be in Taurus helping the flowers grow until April 24, when she moves into Gemini. This month is the perfect time to commit to creating rituals around the creative in your daily life.

Society has standards and ideals for all manifestations of Venus, but those are sanitized, flat, in the service to the status quo, and invisiblize the tremendous amount of labor that goes into creation. Birth is a dangerous, courageous, messy process. It requires skilled guides and a community of support to bring new life into being. Venus wants to help you manifest your babies, whether they be human, artistic, business, or terrestrial. What dream was growing in your heart this winter? The remainder of Aries season is the perfect time to shine that forth. Collaborate with your friends and lovers and create something beautiful together or just let people lift you up as you go through the incredibly brave journey of making and becoming on earth.

The Sun enters Taurus on April 19, highlighting these sensual, aesthetic Venus topics on a soul level. Give up ideas of what your art should look like and instead ask what it wants to be. Surrender your fear of not being good enough and focus on what you know you came here to do. Trust yourself and love what you produce, as the Divine already does.

The month closes out with an intense Full moon in Scorpio on April 29,probing issues of the Self and Other. Essentially, how we do relationships. The mirror that’s held up when we are intimate with people can illuminate our Shadow side: the things we’d rather not acknowledge about ourselves, the qualities we find unacceptable, and the facets of ourselves we prefer to hide. Scorpio likes to get real intense, but also knows what to do with it.

There is a tremendous amount of energy trapped in the parts of ourselves we’re cut off from. When we’re able to connect with that pain and change our relationship to old wounds, we liberate that animating force, which can then be redirected towards healing and growing.

Take April as an opportunity to ground into yourself, your body, and your dreams. With two feet firmly planted in the earth, you will be able to harness the incredibly fertile energy of Gaia to accomplish your goals and shine forth from the heart.

Blessed Be.