The Bill Comes Due

Saturn at the last degree of Scorpio...

There’s a lot of big news in the skies this week (December 14 through the 22nd), including the sixth of seven exact hits of the Uranus-Pluto square, the winter solstice on a new moon and the station of the planet Uranus. As the year winds down, the skies are heating up and things are going to be quite intense through at least mid-January of 2015.

The planet Saturn’s ingress into the sign of Sagittarius after a two year stay in Scorpio is getting a lot of attention, and it surely will mean some profound changes in the spheres of higher education, religion, law, and other Sagittarian realms. But before we get there, the Cosmic Timekeeper is going to trudge through the last degree of Scorpio over the next week.

When a planet leaves a sign, we get a review of what has taken place during its visit, and with Saturn there is often a kind of judgment on what has happened, a final accounting for his time in the sign. In Scorpio, the sign of sex, death, and regeneration, Saturn has asked us to focus these often-difficult topics. Now, he’s asking for our decisions on some matters.

In the collective, we can see the scandal around Bill Cosby as bookending the one around Penn State and Jerry Sandusky (who was sentenced when Saturn went into Scorpio in October of 2012). While the allegations around Cosby go back some time, the preponderance of claims has even diehard Cosby fans deeply skeptical of the comedian’s innocence. Saturn in Scorpio brings us to account for sexual conduct, and in both the Penn State case (which involved iconic coach Joe Paterno, who died shortly after stepping down in disgrace) and in the Cosby fiasco, we see that it was the most wholesome images of Americana that were brought up for examination.

Also in the United States, the growing backlash against police violence has been another manifestation of Saturn leaving Scorpio. With Saturn and Pluto in mutual reception (Scorpio-Capricorn), powerbrokers and politicians have been able to exercise their muscle, but are now called to account for it. Even mainstream media outlets like Time magazine have questioned whether the police in the United States are really there to protect and serve. Worldwide, the immense disparity in wealth has been a topic throughout Saturn’s time in Scorpio, and we will probably see some more reflections of that in the coming week.

Personally, we may hope to avoid such dramatic confrontations as Saturn leaves Scorpio. Yet each of us individually feels something of this energy in our lives, too. Saturn leaving Scorpio asks us to be upfront about our sexuality, to stand up for who we are and accept the decisions we have made. This need not be problematic, but honesty isn’t always the easiest policy where sex is concerned, as we recognize there is a lot of judgment around this issue. Yet the process of changing society’s judgments begins with each of us standing up for who we are – as the acceptance of gay marriage in recent years has demonstrated.

We may also have to account for ourselves financially, and overspending or realizing we have accrued too much debt could be areas where we have to
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stand trial before our consciences (and perhaps a judge). Issues around inheritances, unpaid taxes, and banks could come to a head in the next week.

If these things aren’t entirely cleared up in the next week, don’t worry (or stop worrying, depending on where you stand) because Saturn will be back in Scorpio to wrap thing up in the summer of 2015.

Keep in Mind

As Jupiter moves into Leo for the next year (July 16, 2104 to August 11, 2015), here are a few things to keep in mind for each sign. The following work for sun signs and also ascendants.

Aries - It’s go time, and the brakes are coming off as your ruler Mars gets out of the shadow of his retrograde and out of Libra while Jupiter enters your fifth house of creativity. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything on day one - things will be moving for you for a whole year.

Taurus - Jupiter in Leo can help to make home and family life brighter, but may also indicate some changes, and even changes for the better can be stressful. Keep in mind that your comfort zone can change and expand, and if you get (temporarily) kicked out of it, you can view it as an opportunity for growth.

Gemini - You’ll feel the energy of Jupiter in your third house resonating very well with your daily life. Keep in mind that your routines can be updated and improved so that they don’t become ruts.

Cancer - Finances are an important part of the security that you seek, but keep in mind that not all opportunities are golden, and those that are may require some work.

Leo - Jupiter’s energy in your sign will give you a boost of faith, courage, and optimism that should be very helpful. Keep in mind that you may still need to slow down around some of life’s curves.

Virgo - Knowing for sure has it’s value, but keep in mind that some of life’s greatest benefits come from unseen quarters. Jupiter in Leo asks you to take a leap of faith now and then and believe that hands will be there to catch you.

Libra - One-to-one relationships may predominate for you, but Jupiter in Leo asks you to keep in mind that friendships, groups, and associations are also important for making social connections.

Scorpio - Jupiter in Leo should open up career opportunities, but keep in mind that you have to add your own effort to see results.

Sagittarius - One facet of your sign is travel, and Jupiter in your ninth house suggests that this year will be great for getting on the go. Keep in mind that all kinds of learning and exploration feed the need to expand your horizons.

Capricorn - Staying down to earth is appealing, but keep in mind that this year will give you the opportunity to explore emotional issues in depth - Jupiter in Leo is a bright light to take into a dark cave.

Aquarius - Keep in mind that relationships with individuals matter! Take a look at the people who are in front of you, without categorizing them.

Pisces - Jupiter in Leo can give you a boost at work, and potentially your health as well. Keep in mind that your efforts will be appreciated to make the most of this auspicious time!

Mixed Messages

Throughout the past year, we’ve seen two powerful configurations in the sky. The Cardinal Cross, which is an extension of the Uranus-Pluto square, and the Grand Trine, which was especially strong in 2013.

Briefly, the Cardinal Cross is all about the push for deep transformative change, and also the resistance to it (resistance increases the power of the transformation, the way stretching a bow further back makes the arrow fly farther forward). The champion of change in this configuration is revolutionary Uranus in the impatient and impetuous sign of Aries. The other planets are of course also part of the process in one way or another, but Uranus is pushing forward without reserve.

The Grand Trine in Water Signs, as it is poetically called, involves easy aspects among Neptune in Pisces, Saturn in Scorpio, and Jupiter in Cancer. This emotionally-charged cosmic pattern favors a more conservative and cautious approach, although when riled up the emotional tone can also go to extremes. I credit the Grand Trine with helping to keep financial markets buoyant in otherwise challenging times, and also with helping the powers-that-be stay powerful (where that has been the case).

There have been two points of connection between the Square and the Trine. Most obviously, Jupiter in Cancer has been part of both configurations, helping to rally energy towards the group, the clan, the country. It is an energy that helps to maintain stability, although that may not last and may not be what is needed at the moment. The other connection has been an easy sextile between Saturn and Pluto, an aspect that has helped Plutocrats everywhere (especially since the planets are in mutual reception).
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The friction of the Cardinal Cross has been greased by the oil of the Grand Trine. It’s very complex, because the Cross and the Trine both work themselves out over time, but we can say that there has been a drop more stability over the past couple of years than we might have otherwise seen.

It’s not that deep changes aren’t occurring, but they have perhaps happened more behind the scenes than we may have expected. Rather than the overt revolutionary energy of the Occupy Movement, which quickly fizzled, we have seen more protracted and less obvious conflicts, at least in the Western world.

In July of 2014, there is a subtle but powerful aspect in effect all month, the quincunx between Uranus and Saturn. The planet most associated with revolutionary energy and the one most conservative and traditional are in this awkward relationship. With a quincunx, it is not a matter of overt conflict, as when two people disagree on an issue. The traditional astrologers explained a quincunx by saying the two planets do not see each other. That is, they are coming from totally different perspectives.

On both the personal and collective level, we see both the desire to move forward (Uranus in Aries) and a desire to be safe and secure (Saturn in Scorpio). Start the revolution, but don’t touch my retirement account. Let’s try something new in our partnership, but have dinner ready when I get home. Become an entrepreneur, but have financial security. Perhaps the operative phrase might be, “Give us our freedom!” (for after all, who is giving you what is yours to begin with, and if it is given it can be taken away).

From the 8th to the 12th of July, we have opportunities to bring these conflicts to light, to see them more clearly. What has been operating under the surface will become more obvious. That process may be challenging in some ways, but hold onto the insights of these days, for they will help when the energy of the quincunx peaks around the Uranus and Saturn stations from the 19th to the 21st (and a few days on either side).

Listen to all the voices in your head. Note that while they may disagree at some points, it is also the case that they are each saying separate things without really addressing each other directly. It isn’t so much a matter of yes/no or this/that decisions, but more like trying to move in two different directions at the same time.

Listen also to all the voices of those around you. Each individual may be offering a unique perspective, although you may notice that others are no more consistent than you are.

In our collective lives, listen to the disparate voices in politics and on social issues. Do they even hear each other?

While the Cross and the Trine have thus far managed to work out a cozy agreement, the quincunx between Uranus and Saturn makes maintaining the status quo more difficult. To the extent that we bring awareness to the emerging conflicts in our personal and collective lives, we can influence the course of change in a positive way.

You Say It's Your Birthday

The United States solar return on July 4th features a tense sun-Pluto opposition. This suggests a transformative year ahead for the country, and the particulars of the opposition, the sun (leader) in the 12th house opposed by Pluto in the 6th (both very close to the ascendant-descendant axis) suggest an opposition to the President from the moneyed interests of the Plutocracy.

Indeed, the news this week reinforces this interpretation. A poll showed that Obama is considered ‘the worst president since the Second World War’. The poll is a bit ridiculous, as Obama is still in office and Americans are notoriously poor with their own history, but it does show that the president is unpopular now. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s decision on Hobby Lobby seems to reinforce the idea that corporations are people, capable of having moral beliefs that would be offended and hurt by the beliefs and needs of actual people. And to top it off, the U.S. stock markets climbed to record heights this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 17,000, a true milestone.

President: 0, Corporations: 2

The president also lost a Supreme Court decision on his appointments when congress was in recess, and is being sued by House Speaker John Boehner (maybe). Meanwhile, immigration is heating up as an issue along the southern border, as a nation of immigrants tries to stop the next generation from entering the country.

The solar return chart has the moon in Libra, approaching the natal U.S. Saturn in Libra (14 Li 48). With Mars having finished with this degree for
US Solar Return
a while (the Cosmic Warrior is up to 20 Libra), we might expect a bit of a reprieve for the U.S. congress, but Uranus and Pluto are not letting go.

The presence of Venus at 14 Gemini, just off the descendant and trine to U.S. natal Saturn suggests prominent women in the country’s politics in the coming year. Of course, Hillary Clinton would top that list, but there may be more than one female presidential candidate, or perhaps another woman will become a kind of anti-Hillary (Gemini works as both twins and opposites).

Mars, Ceres, and Vesta are conjunct in Libra, adding to the theme of contention and opposition among women over the coming year.

I know that Venus in Gemini could mean many things besides prominent women in politics, but the U.S. is a traditional country in many ways, and so traditional interpretations work well.

The solar return chart for the country (here relocated from Philadelphia to Washington, a minor change) seems to say more about what divides the United States than what unifies it. There is certainly some hope in the chart, but transformative processes are at work, and transformation is rarely easy - especially for powerful countries.

Hate Speech

Ann Coulter hates soccer. Or, more precisely, she hates that the United States has a growing interest in the sport. Or so she says.

According to Coulter, soccer is for sissies. But on closer examination of her... argument is too sophisticated a word... it seems like the real problem is that soccer (football to those of you not in the U.S.) is a sport supported by immigrants.

I don’t know if Coulter really hates soccer. Most likely, she’s never thought about it, and is irked that something other than her is getting attention. She’s something of an attention-grabber, and they don’t like competition as a rule.

But that’s not my point. Coulter is known for her vitriolic, thinly-disguised hate speech, which makes her a big draw among a certain faction of ultra-conservatives. She has an opinion on everything, and her opponents are stupid (If Democrats Had Any Brains They’d Be Republicans is the title of one of her books).

Astrologically, Coulter (December 8, 1961, New York City, time unknown) has a strong stellium in Sagittarius than includes the sun, moon, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. The sun and Mars are within a degree of each other, perhaps explaining the fiery anger that Coulter directs at... well, pretty much everyone and everything.

The bright side of Sagittarius, I always like to say, is the search for truth. The dark side is the illusion that its been found and the subsequent need to preach it to everyone. Ann Coulter seems to have chosen to go over to the dark side of the sign. She certainly embodies many of the neutral characteristics of Sag, including a boisterous outgoing personality and a tendency to move on to the next thing quickly.

Coulter’s chart seems to me to give her a unique ability to appeal to the lowest impulses of the populace of the United States. Her sun-Mars conjunction falls in the U.S. first house, about 4 degrees away from an opposition to the volatile U.S. Uranus. Her Mercury falls just behind the ascendant, demonstrating a unique ability to voice the otherwise hidden aspects of the collective psyche.
Coulter


Jupiter, ruler of just about everything in Coulter’s chart, is conjunct the U.S. south node in Aquarius (her own south node is also in the sign of the water bearer), and so she really manages to exploit the basest aspects of popular sentiment. Her Capricorn Saturn is in partile conjunction with the U.S. Pluto, which would seem to help explain her prominence during the Pluto-in-Capricorn years (although of course she was also supported while Pluto was in Sag), and also her embrace of Plutocratic forces.

Looking at her chart in relation to the U.S. chart, it is easy to see how Ann Coulter makes such an efficient spokesperson for the darker sides of both Sagittarius and Aquarius in the country. She has found the truth, and there is no need for fact-checking, taking perspective, or listening to others. It is difficult to know whether she actually believes herself, but my guess is she does, passionately.

Reconsider Facebook's Value

(a Mercury-retrograde musing)

When Mark Zuckerberg launched the initial public offering of Facebook stock, it immediately took a plunge (astrologers will recall that he did this on a Venus station to retrograde, and Venus rules values), and many of us weren’t too surprised.

After all, how exactly does FB generate revenue? Those little adds are annoying, but easy enough to ignore, although it is a bit trickier now that they show up in your news feed. And those of us that have Pages can promote the page, spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 to $40 per promotion. Granted, there’s a lot of people and companies on FB, but it doesn’t seem to generate a whole lot of revenue per client.

Yet perhaps FB excels at generating what
Amit Goswami calls subtle capital, value that exists in the mental, emotional, and intuitive realms as well as the physical. This subtle capital wouldn’t show up on FB’s balance sheet, because it isn’t directly related to cash flow for FB or anyone else.

If you Like my FB Page (and you
should: click here), you may someday decide that you like what you see and so want to get an astrology consultation with me, buy a book, and so on (of course, you can do that right here on the website, too). If you Like the Page for one of the bands that I am in, you may decided to come see us play or buy download some music. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I am talking about is the enormous amount of quality content that is generated every hour - every minute - on Facebook. I know, some stuff is kind of trite, but most things make you stop and look. And when you look, you feel, you think, you experience. There’s a ton of great astrology out there. There’s interesting stuff about music, art, science, and social opportunities and challenges.

An artist friend of mine posts her pastel paintings for us to enjoy. She also creates impromptu Rorschach experiences with photos she takes, and we all share our impressions, feeding off each other’s visions. People share photos from all over the world, and stories, too.

Yes, moment-by-moment updates on the kids’ soccer game is a bit too much, but I’d rather know what’s important to my old high school friends than have no idea where in the world they are and what they are doing, which was the situation before FB.

It’s all one big unhosted cocktail party/professional conference/family reunion. And you don’t have to worry about whether people are mingling and enjoying themselves. Plus the clean-up is easy.

I think, to get back to my original point, that Facebook may in fact have truly staggering value as subtle capital. And I think that may be why so many people were quick to invest in something that has (to date) generated only modest monetary capital. It may even be pushing us to a point where we begin to recognize the value of Goswami’s subtle capital, and that could begin a realignment of our entire economic system.

Now, Linked-In... ? I got no idea what that's about.

In the Neptunian Marsh

Last Monday, as I wandered through the streets of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, it struck me that once again I was in the perfect place for a Neptune station.

At the last Neptune station, in November, I had been wandering through the foggy streets of Amsterdam, a city of water with its beautiful canals and dreamy sensibility. Now, here I was in Palma, a city on the Mediterranean Sea, wandering through a medieval maze of streets and getting glimpses of the harbor filled with sailboats and ships of all kinds.
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I'm getting good at these Neptune stations, I thought to myself...

On Tuesday, I flew back to New York. My already-extended 12 hour flight was supposed to be in two legs: Palma to Dusseldorf and then to New York. But the second leg of the flight was cancelled, leaving me to scramble through the airport to find a new flight (an experience made much more difficult by the lack of information) and to try to recover my luggage (hours spent waiting, in vain - it's still missing). I'll spare you the details, but it was pretty bad. I eventually got a flight to London and then to New York (on British Airways, bless them).

My 12 hour journey wound up taking 20 hours, most of which was spent in a state of stress, as I ran through airports like one of those dreams where you are running as fast as you can, but not getting anywhere.

My point? I'm not presuming on my skills with Neptune stations anymore.

Scorecard

Yesterday afternoon I unexpectedly found myself in a debate with a close associate of Richard Dawkins.

It wasn’t the best of circumstances. We were trying to talk to each other around the corner at the end of a bar (a square aspect and Neptunian context). We were both under some emotional stress (her father, my cat). She is the sister of one of my closest friends, but we haven’t seen each other since Reagan’s first term.

She asked what I had been doing for the last 35 years, since she had last seen me. “Well,” I began, “that day I went home and had dinner, I think it was pizza, and then the next day...”

Eventually, she told me that she had just been traveling around the country with Dawkins, and what a wonderful experience it was.

“I think you and I have very different worldviews,” I offered. Part of me didn’t want to get into it, certainly not there. But when pressed, I went on, “Dawkins has that very scientific-materialist reductionism thing going on” (remember, this was no formal debate).

“Oh,” she said, “then your religious?”

“That’s a false dichotomy,” I retorted, a little more willing to engage now that I could feel the blood rising, “it’s not as though there is only a choice between hard materialism and blind religious faith...”

To be fair, she sees it as a battle of science against the kind of fundamentalist religious fantasy that makes up a large minority of America (and a slim majority of its electorate). The country that four decades ago was sending people to the moon now has 46% percent of its population believing that God created the earth, as is, 5,000 years ago. In darkness that deep, the flashlight of science is to be appreciated, no matter how narrow the beam. But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to reduce the world to modern, scientific materialists and simplistic religious fanatics.

At one point, I used my favorite line (you can find it in my book, Integral Astrology): “The problem is that most religious people have a high school knowledge of science, and most scientists have a kindergarten knowledge of spirituality.”
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We went on for a while. I talked about consciousness, and morphic fields. She talked about DNA and RNA. As is to be expected, no one convinced anyone of anything. I wasn’t even looking to prove a point, really, so much as to find a judo move that would land her on her philosophical backside.

I found no such move. Looking back, I might have chosen a different angle here and there, and my choice of evidence could have been better (because of course the question of evidence was key for her). But the problem was that I couldn’t really put forth much in the way of ideas, because I had to continually fight my way out of the religious fundamentalist box she kept trying to construct around me. She was so sure she already knew what I had to say that I couldn’t say much without refuting her assumptions. When someone is so sure that the argument is this-or-that, black-or-white, it’s very hard to be heard above that noise.

Oh, and that black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us thing? That’s fundamentalist thinking.

(Image from NASA.gov)

Freedom From the Known

This week marked the 119th birthday anniversary of Jiddu Krishnamurti, a kind of anti-guru who stressed the importance of questioning our assumptions about everything. Initially, Krishnamurti was on a path to become a guru but he rejected the idea of spiritual (or just about any type of) authority. In his lectures and writings, he continually stressed the individual’s ability to discover what is real, without the help of teachers and others who promise to have the answers.

Given his rebellious approach to all kinds of authority, astrologers will not be surprised to learn that Krishnamurti had a sun-Uranus opposition, with Uranus in the probing sign of Scorpio. A Taurus, one of his major points was a rebellion against material possessions. In fact, he sometimes seemed to equate attachment in general to materialism. In one lecture, he questioned why people are so reticent to die, to leave behind “your blasted bank account,” as though that were the main reason why beings fear death.

With four planets in Gemini, Krishnamurti often worked via a kind of Socratic dialogue, and his conversational partners (or opponents) rarely did better than those who argued with Socrates. He continually stressed the need to go beyond the conditioning of family and society, and particularly emphasized the hollowness of religious teachings. Krishnamurti represented a kind of modernist approach to spirituality, one that emphasized the use of logic and reason. Everyone could see the truth of the way things are, if they would but shake off (Uranus) the limitations imposed by conditioning. He didn’t want people to follow him, but rather to follow his reasoning.

Options

Ah, certainty.

We often seek it out, and sometimes people look to astrologers for it. Clients sometimes come in looking for certainty. Critics and skeptics of astrology chide us that we don't really offer it. Many astrologers beat themselves up trying to find it (or beat each other up for not having it).

There is, I think, a drop of certainty out there in the Cosmos. But it is only available to those who exist within very tightly prescribed boundaries. Shoehorn yourself into a culture, a belief system, or a dogma (religious or scientific) and certainty is much easier to find.

But then again, it's not so much that we can push ourselves
into a more limited world (we can, all right, but it's not the easiest or best solution). It's more that we emerge out of our limitations into a world of options, as we increase our awareness. That tightly limited world feels like a warm swaddling blanket for a while, but sooner or later it becomes a straight jacket as we open up to new possibilities.
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When people ask an astrologer for certainty, asking '
what is going to happen?', they are often in a state of anxiety, and the comfy if constricting world of limitations seems like the safest place for their consciousness to reside. To the extent that they are still within that world, it may very well be possible to offer some certainty. If they are running back into it, certainty will be harder to find.

Yet I don't think that encouraging certainty the best approach to take. I prefer to point out that there are options, a greater horizon of possibilities. Usually, with a little work we can expand the set of possible outcomes, and create a set of
options. Having options means that a person can decide what to do at any point in a process of change. The outcome of one's actions are by no means certain, but no matter the outcome, there will be further options (at least until one runs into a truly end-game situation).

To me, it seems far better to use astrology to explore options, and to create new perspectives on situations, than to search for certainty.

Make the Mountains Ring

“You can make the mountains ring,
or make the angels cry”
Jesse Collin Young,
Get Together

“Whatever you did for the least of these brothers, that you did for me”
Jesus,
Matthew 25

We are in the very midst of the peak of the Cardinal Grand Cross in the second half of April. If you’re not familiar with this energy, take a quick look at the
monthly forecast or my YouTube video on the topic. Or, just take it that we have a storm of cosmic energy that is playing out in every possible way, in changes to the Earth itself, to our political landscape, social structures, and in our personal lives.

The Cardinal Cross peaks right around Easter Sunday, a day associated with a different kind of cross. This week, just before the lunar eclipse, we had a very powerful statement of the energy that prevails at this time, in an act of compassion and forgiveness.

Iran executes a lot of people. Only China beats them in terms of
raw numbers (the United States was 4th on the list in 2012). Iran still has public executions, as well, and such is the grisly scene of our story - appropriate, after all, for Easter (or, more properly, Good Friday).

You can
read the article here, but the short story is that a 19 year old man who was about to be hanged for murder was saved by the mother of his victim. As the story was reported in other news outlets, this happened as the condemned man’s mother looked on.

One of the most poignant parts of the crucifixion story is the perspective of Mary, Jesus’ mother, who is present. In this week’s story the woman in the role parallel to Mary got a very different outcome, thanks to the woman whose son was killed by her own son. It was an extraordinary act of compassion, in the midst of a contemporary country living with Roman-style cruelty.

Astrologically, the symbolism is quite strong. Tuesday’s lunar eclipse was on the Aries-Libra axis, tying it into the Cardinal Cross. And directly opposite the sun - as the moon approached - were two goddess asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. Vesta is known for purity of action. Ceres is a facet of the Great Mother, associated with the harvest. Ceres is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Demeter, who saved her daughter Persephone from Hades’ realm in the underworld. Ceres, the asteroid, has been elevated to ‘planetoid’ status recently.

As we approach Easter Sunday and the peak of the Cardinal Cross, the astrological symbolism of Tuesday’s story is clear. We see the rise of the power of the feminine, the hope for a better world coming from a mother. In contrast to 2,000 years of war and hatred in the name of a crucifixion that did take place, a single act of compassion and courage prevented one from happening in the first place.

Reflecting...

Relationships are an area where people often invest a great deal of their emotional currency, and where they are often reticent to withdraw their funds even when the investment is clearly not paying off. There are a lot of reasons for that, but for now, we only need to recognize that partnerships tend to be such a significant area in our lives that they can gain a kind of power over us. We say that we have relationships, but in many cases our relationships have us. Leaving a relationship or having a partner leave can be a traumatic event in a person’s life.

We meet many other souls as we move through life, and in one way or another they teach us about love and who we really are at a fundamental level. We connect deeply with some of these souls—as lovers but also as friends, family, and in other ways—and we find great joy in these connections.
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Alas, we are on this plane to learn and evolve, not to bask in the joy of love. Or perhaps we are here to bask in the joy of love, but most of us have quite a bit of learning to do before we can really live that way. Despite our deep connections, despite the love we feel, our complex lives often don’t mesh with the transcendent soul connections.


From the preface to
Separating Aspects: The Astrology of Breakups, Divorce, and Other Partings.

In Praise of Folly...

It's April Fool's Day, but a fool isn't necessarily a one given to tricks (that is a Mercurial version of the word), nor was it originally thought of as one who is a little dull mentally. Rather, a fool (and the related word folly) described one who was uninformed or misinformed, and so acted unwisely and probably a bit rashly.

It's a perfect image for the sun's meeting with Uranus in the early hours of April 2nd, which we'll be feeling all through the first.
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As we begin to meet with April's charged cosmic energy, we are all in a sense fools, moving into the unknown with nothing but our assumptions and expectations (like the Tarot's fool with his absurd little sack of valuables), many of which may not survive this tumultuous time. Not knowing is a perfectly valid point of view to take, and those who think they do know may find that the celestial weather leaves them feeling a bit... foolish.

(Tarot images from The Secret Tarot, published by Lo Scarabeo, art by Marco Nizzoli)

Coffee Break

As we get deep into the last week in March, we have a bit of a pause before the Aries new moon. First, the moon is void for almost all of Thursday, and then it goes through its balsamic phase in the dreamy sign of Pisces. It's a bit of a replay of the extended Piscean season that we've experienced thanks to all the retrogrades this year. It's a time to pause before we move forward into a very charged April.

Although the new astrological year began at the equinox last week, Sunday's new moon in Aries may signal the more overt sense of beginning. The spring equinox is the 'dawn' of the new year, but just as we may not see the sun at sunrise (for example if you are in a valley, or a city) but have to wait for it to rise above surrounding hills or houses, so we have to wait for the new moon in Aries each year to really get fully moving. The sun, it's true, has already made the change, but our more egoic, earthbound perspective - signified by the moon - has not yet caught up.

Take the next few days - a void moon then a Piscean one - to rest, recharge, and strengthen your resolve. Knowing what you want and need is going to be more important than knowing how to get it in the coming month. In fact, knowing who you are and what you are about is even more important. We'll need to be very flexible with outer circumstances, even as we maintain an inner sense of purpose.

Of course, a few words with an astrologer can be very helpful at times like these...
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A Bridge Too Far

When I first looked at the chart of the November 3, 2013 solar eclipse, set to New York City, I wasn’t overly impressed. The eclipse was in the 12th house, and of course it was in Scorpio, so it seemed that whatever was going on would happen behind the scenes and be well covered (or covered up), at least for a while. I assumed it would be a while before we saw any direct manifestation of the eclipse, if the public got to see it at all.

Still, a twelfth house eclipse got my interest, so I put the eclipse onto the chart of the city (January 1st, 1898 at midnight). The chart comparison proved to be more illuminating. The eclipse landed in the city’s second house, suggesting financial issues, and Pluto, the dispositor of the eclipse, was in the third house. My expectations were that the city’s already strained public transportation system would get even more stressed in some way. Uranus transiting in Aries was also opposite the city’s twelfth house Jupiter (hiding less than a degree behind the ascendant). That, I thought, spoke to the certain election of Bill DeBlasio, the city’s progressive new mayor who was elected just two days after the eclipse and who clearly represents a challenge to the city’s fat cat power brokers.

On December 1st, a Metro North commuter train derailed in the Bronx (within the city limits), killing four people and injuring 65. This accident was dramatic and troubling, even by the standards of public transportation in the area.

The Capricorn ingress in December of 2013 represented another challenge to the city, with the sun and the MC again in the city’s third house, with Pluto close to the IC and Mars approaching the city’s Jupiter. Surely, though, the effects couldn’t be as dramatic, and they weren’t. Yet Metro North was again affected, with a power outage stopping all service on the night of January 23rd for two hours. A federal report on Metro North was scathing in its assessment of the railroad, and by extension the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that oversees all public transportation in the area.

Yet it isn’t just the city’s public transportation, but the public’s transportation that has been affected. In what has probably been the region’s biggest story of the year, it was revealed that people working close to New Jersey Governor Chis Christie intentionally created a traffic jam for several days on the George Washington Bridge, which connects the city to New Jersey. Those who don’t live in the congested traffic of the city can scarcely appreciate the ire aroused by an intentional traffic jam. The fallout has all but scuttled Christie’s chances for the presidency in 2016. Christie, a large man, has Jupiter opposite his sun-Pluto conjunction. While not technically a New Yorker, he certainly represents some Jupiterian energy.


New York is again in the crosshairs of the Aries ingress, with Mars retrograding in the city’s first house, and the Mars station less than one degree from the city’s ascendant as Uranus hangs around the descendant. A rash of dramatic fires has hit the city, and a building explosion... stopped Metro North for a day, once again.

Allopathic Astrology

I don’t practice allopathic astrology.

That little phrase came to me yesterday while watching a TED video made by a physician (Lissa Rankin) who left the world of Western medicine to become more holistic, but found herself prescribing herbs instead of pills. While recognizing that remedies from outside - whether pills or herbs - have their place, she eventually realized that the health of the body is a reflection of the health of the mind, heart, and soul. At the deepest level, change needs to come from within.

An astrologer can offer insight into almost any situation, a description of the dynamics taking place within an individual or between people. However, to really be functional, insight has to take root within the client. That isn’t something the astrologer can do, but rather something that is up to the client almost entirely. In fact, astrologers can point in various directions, suggesting the client look here or there in order to gain some perspective on a situation, but can neither make the client see what the astrologer sees, nor fully know how it looks from the client’s perspective.

An allopathic approach to astrology would be one where the astrologer and client both assume that the astrologer knows more about the situation than the client, and so can direct it towards ‘the best possible outcome’ (whatever that is) from without. The client comes in with a set of issues and the astrologer decides what the client should do, and when.

Such an approach is ultimately disempowering for clients (although it no doubt does the astrologer’s ego some good). All of us need to make our own decisions and decide what is best for ourselves. Helpful information and a new perspective - things that astrology can legitimately offer to people - are invaluable. But each of us needs to use the information in a way that allows us to take responsibility for our own lives.

The astrologer has to maintain a nonjudgmental stance with regard to the client's situation, in order to allow them to reach their own decisions. That's one of the things I emphasize in Separating Aspects, that we don't know if a breakup or divorce will be traumatic or empowering for a client, and in fact even a very difficult period of time can be healing and an opportunity for growth.

Ironically, it is probably the expectations of the client as much as the attitude of the astrologer that often leads to an allopathic astrology. It is at the times of greatest vulnerability that we seek others' input and guidance, and are most ready to cede power and control over our lives. Avoiding that is a top priority, but admittedly tricky territory to navigate.

Psychedelic Therapy and Astrology

I’ve recently been reading James Fadiman’s excellent book, The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide, where he revisits a concept that Stanislav Grof and others have talked about before, high dose versus low dose psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Briefly, it shakes out like this:

High doses are great for helping people to see a much larger picture, for relativizing the value of ego and recognizing one’s identity with a larger cosmic process. Low doses are great for helping people gain insight into the dynamics of their personality, and particularly with shadow work.

Astrologically, I think we could relate this to the Saturn boundary. Low doses are within the bounds of Saturn (hence we hear about shadow work!), facilitating different ways of seeing the same issues and problems with which people have been struggling. In other words, low doses can take a person on a tour of their chart.

On the other hand, high doses are trans-Saturnian, transporting people into the realms of Uranus, Neptune, and (gulp!) Pluto, for a look at a much broader picture. To the extent that the experience relates to one’s particular life story, it tends to be liberating and reorienting towards the transpersonal (once again, the role of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto in the chart).

Just a musing for Mercury’s entry into Pisces...

Take Node...

The Libra moon heads towards a meeting with Warrior Mars today. Communication and action is likely to be more direct and encounter less resistance than in the past few days. This energy is the perfect opening ceremony for the movement of the nodes of the moon into Libra/Aries.

The nodes of the moon (the points where the orbits of sun and moon cross) will be on the Libra/Aries axis for about the next 18 months. The nodes determine where eclipses occur in the zodiac, and subtly color our collective experience. The position of the nodes suggests a balance (or tension) with the planetary energy of the Grand Cross.

The south node is in Aries, pulling us towards more independent but also more selfish perspectives. The south node in Aries is likely to bring out more of the darker side of Uranus, who is also in this sign. At extremes, there may be more of individuals and groups going rogue and off the rails. As tension and pressure builds on us all, the tendency to explode is a predictable result, and a strong sense of selfishness (as opposed to a strong sense of self) may yield very poor results.

The north node pulls us towards Libra. At the core, this is about balancing the extremes, letting off the pressure slowly and with fairness. With Mars also in Libra for the first half of 2014, we may see more overt 'fighting for fairness' in our personal and collective lives. On a personal level, this could be about developing what I call creative selfishness, or the recognition that we can only do for others if we have first taken care of our own needs. Collectively, it will manifest as a more direct push for social and economic justice. The recent debates about minimum wages in the U.S. are a clear example of this.

The nodes have left Scorpio/Taurus, where they encouraged tighter clinging to material possessions and the status quo. While questions about who or what has power and how legitimate it is were an important part of this time (government spying became an issue, for example), the south node in Taurus put the emphasis on personal and collective economics. Holding on to mine was prominent for both individuals and businesses, and although there was criticism of how wealth and income are distributed, the default setting was to hold on to every dollar, euro, or pound.

Today's cosmic energy - and in a sense the ongoing Libra emphasis - suggests riding a bicycle. You go forward only to the extent you can maintain your balance, and the faster you move, the more challenging that is. Yet fast motion is indicated if you need to get to (or away from) someplace in a hurry. Pluto and Uranus are shifting the ground beneath us, and pedaling fast seems a good idea.

Catch a video version of this astroblog on YouTube by clicking here.

When Accusation is Conviction

You may appreciate this synchronicity. Last weekend, I got one of those email petitions to sign, from a woman who asked me to help her to get her father out of jail. She said that because of pressure from her addicted mother, she had lied and said that her father sexually abused her. He has been in prison for 15 years for the crime.

Later that day, the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen story broke in the news.

Child abuse is a hot trigger issue, and I hesitate to write about it. People are so justifiably incensed at the thought of a child being sexually harmed by an adult that they cannot listen to the most basic plea to stop and think for just a moment. It is a topic that conjures up the two most dangerous words in Western society: Zero Tolerance. Accusation is conviction.

Many astrologers, including some from whom I would have hoped for better, were quick to dive into the analysis of Woody Allen’s chart, in a search for factors that might make him a hopeless pedophile. I saw no one who stopped to consider the larger picture, and to review the story without convicting Allen of child abuse on the basis of Dylan’s claims. Because, once again, accusation is conviction.

The astrologers related this story to Saturn in Scorpio, the bringing up and exposing of hidden sexual actions. Allen, they said, was being called to account for himself by Saturn in the sign associated with sexuality.

It seems to me that is a wildly simplistic assessment. For one thing, the sexual abuse of children has been a hot trigger issue since Pluto was in Scorpio. The barrage of stories - many of which have been substantiated - against the priests of the Catholic Church has been in the news for decades. The Jerry Sandusky/Penn State scandal broke while Saturn was in Libra (although Sandusky was sentenced when Saturn was at 0 degrees Scorpio). The accusations against Michael Jackson happened years before Saturn entered Scorpio.

One thing we might notice, and it has little to do with astrology, is that the substantiated cases of sexual abuse that get media attention have to do with large institutions, the apparent foundation of society - churches and universities. The unsubstantiated (and, as Allen pointed out in his letter to the New York Times, deeply investigated yet unsubstantiated) accusations have been against people who we tend to see as peripheral and ‘not normal.’ Like the witch hunts of yesteryear, society is ready to convict those who appear a little different, a little ‘off’ from the rest of us.

Both Woody Allen and Michael Jackson have the kind of personalities and lifestyles that make it easy for more normal folks to say, “Oh, yeah, he’s so weird, I’m sure he did it.” Yet the public cases that are substantiated tend to involve people who not only present as normal, but as role models of normality. Perhaps that is what we should be thinking about. Perhaps that is what Saturn in Scorpio may be asking us to consider.

And if we as a society have been so determined to root out and convict child abusers, we may consider why we find this crime both so common and so heinous. Saturn in Scorpio may get us to ponder our approach to children.

When Jonbenet Ramsey was murdered, after Pluto left Scorpio, she was regularly referred to as a “child beauty queen.” Pictures of the seven year old decked out like an adult were everywhere. Few people stopped to question what kind of society would even consider having children as ‘beauty queens.’ When seven year olds are dressed up like adults, not for Halloween or a party, but as part of their identity, there is something deeply wrong with our collective psychic economy. Perhaps we as a society are so sensitive to child abuse because we recognize that we have, in so many ways, taken childhood away from children.

During the Pluto in Scorpio years, stories about child abuse were commonplace, although not so much among celebrities as among more everyday folks. It was a dangerous time to have a daycare center in the United States. The fallout of that time is still with us today - a teacher hugs a crying first grader at their own peril. School is a no-touching zone, and a few years ago two second graders were suspended for kissing. We are raising a generation (or more) of children for whom virtually any human contact will seem strange, dirty, and bad. Generations of new Victorians who really believe in the inherent wrongfulness of contact with anyone outside of tightly prescribed guidelines. All for their own good, of course.

So, I would say that Saturn in Scorpio is asking us to consider and reconsider our attitudes. To get to the truth. But not simply the truth behind the allegations of abuse: The truth behind our society’s attitude towards children, sexuality, and the fear we associate with it. To think that Saturn in Scorpio is about exposing perversions in ‘the other’ is simplistic - it is about exposing the perverse attitudes that are accepted as common sense.

Re-Retire!

Heeeeere's... Some other guy who's name begins with a 'J'...

Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and now Jimmy Fallon. Lots of J's! (Conan and Steve Allen are anomalies)

Jay Leno said goodbye, again, last night. This time around, the show had an air of finality, something that was missing in Leno's 2009 leaving. The network's botched attempt to move Leno to primetime and replace him with Conan was dripping with the failure to understand one of its own greatest assets. This time around, there was again a sense the NBC had spilled the glass with which it should have been saying 'cheers', but the feel was more of transition than crash-&-burn.
Leno


Leno took over The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson on May 25, 1992. From the start, his job was impossible in the sense that he was replacing an American institution that stretched back to the very start of the 1960s. Americans had been through so much with Johnny, who held the post for 30 years - a complete Saturn cycle. It seems fitting that Leno's 22 years on Tonight is 3/4 of the Saturn cycle - point of recognizing what has been accomplished and then deciding (or having network suits decide) whether to continue or move on.

A look at the chart for Leno's first show as host is interesting. The midheaven is 15 Scorpio, which makes the 10th house Pluto ruler of the chart. Transiting Saturn entered the 10th house - destiny, public image, role in the world - last fall, and is only one degree away from the chart's Pluto today.

Saturn is also the chart's ruler, as Capricorn is rising. With such a Saturn/Pluto emphasis in the chart, it is no wonder that we see Saturnian timing so prominent, particularly as it conjuncts Pluto (for a television show, the MC may be more important than the Ascendant). It also says something about the show as an institution.

But wait - did I just say 'institution' again? Looking forward, we may well wonder about the future of The Tonight Show. After 22 years, Leno was still 'the new guy' to many Johnny fans. Jimmy Fallon will be playing to an audience that may largely be unaware of who Carson was, which is freeing for him, but it raises questions about Tonight as the late-night talk show. It's all a level playing field now. With the Uranus-Pluto square (check out the positions of Uranus and Neptune in the chart) so prominent now, institutions are up for review, for sure. If Fallon makes it seven years (1/4 of a Saturn cycle), that would be impressive in our faster-changing world.

Resolution, and Resolutions...

Venus was retrograde in Capricorn from December 21, 2013 until January 31st, 2014. Yes, the usual Venus retrograde things happened - old relationships may have been reheated, or at least there may have been some connection in order to reach a feeling of resolution. New relationships that began in late in the fall may have started bright, only to fizzle just as quickly.

But Venus was in the sign we associate with business, government, and institutions, and we shouldn’t overlook how those things were affect. For example, the stock market shot upwards early in the period, then tumbled lower throughout January.

The 40 days of Venus retrograde is associated with the 40 days of the flood, Jesus’ time in the desert, the Lenten season, and many other examples of going inward and not indulging in outward pleasures. It’s interesting that it occurred during the time of year we usually associate with indulgence and spending.

One particularly interesting aspect of this Venus retrograde was that it occurred in a sign associated with business during the time of year when many businesses get their biggest boost due to holiday shopping. It sure seemed like people were going crazy on Black Friday (after Thanksgiving in the U.S.), but apparently holiday sales were somewhat weak. Each of us is both observer and participant (or nonparticipant) in the phenomenon. We watch and see what other people are doing, and note how it will affect the economy. But we also have to make our own spending decisions, and in that sense participate in the outcome.

It seems like this Venus retrograde was a time to not only revisit and come to some resolution about relationship issues, but also a time to make resolutions about our spending habits and participation in our consumer economy. Nothing is resolved in a day - or 40 days - of course. But perhaps the retrograde brought some awareness about our spending habits.

A Dream Deferred

Today would have been the 85th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is shocking, in a way, to think that a man whose assassination has been part of our history for so long might actually have lived to see this day - just a year past his Uranus return. Last year, Time magazine called Dr. King 'the architect of the 21st century' and one of the founding fathers of America.

I've never looked at the astrology of Dr. King, probably because his message, his intention, and his effect on the United States all seem so clear that no further analysis is needed. That he was assassinated - like progressives in the country from Lincoln to Kennedy to Kennedy (even John Lennon didn't survive here) - speaks volumes about the challenges the U.S. faces.

But I thought I would have a look, and it turns out to be pretty interesting. First, Dr. King's sun is just approaching a conjunction to the U.S. (Sibly chart) Pluto. More telling, I think, is that his Uranus, the planet of revolution and change, is in Aries conjunct the U.S. chart's IC (the base of the chart, signfying home, roots). And perhaps most telling, his Mars is in Gemini in exact (half a degree) conjunction to the U.S. Mars. He certainly that both role in the country - he was an seen as an enemy by many who wished to maintain the status quo.

As we approach the next Uranus-Pluto square in April, it is interesting to look at the chart of his assassination. The sun is tightly conjunct Saturn in Aries. The angles of the chart, the ascendant and midheaven, are at 11 and 12 degrees of cardinal signs. Today, Pluto is less than a degree from the IC of the chart for April 4, 1968, and Uranus is two degrees away from the descendant. Jupiter is resting one degree from the midheaven. Significantly, the U.S. sun was on the midheaven at the moment Dr. King was killed.These are virtually the same degrees as the upcoming Uranus-Pluto square.
Memphis 1968


What does that mean? I don't know that there are any direct messages for us. Eleven to 13 degrees of cardinal signs are sensitive degrees in the U.S. chart, as that is where the sun is. Dr. King's message and his fate are tied to the fate of the country. But we knew that.




That's the Sh*t!

If you ask children of a certain age where babies come from, they may offer that mothers produce them through defecation. Although to an adult that may seem both crude and absurd, considered from a child’s perspective it makes a certain amount of sense. After all, we tell them that mother has a baby ‘in her belly’ and children have more familiarity with the productive capacities of the colon than the uterus.

My neighbors for many years were of German heritage, and in their house they had a plaque of a child sitting on a toilet, with a gold coin above his head. This, they explained to me, was the geldsheisser, literally the gold shitter (Google it for a variety of great images).

In Spain, it is the custom to eat lentils on New Year’s Eve. Now, due to the fibrous nature of lentils, they pass through the digest tract relatively intact. As a result, one can count on producing a pot of little coins on New Year’s Day, beginning the year with an indication of prosperity.

If it all seems a little second grade to you, remember that these things date back to a time when second grade was pretty much the high water mark of human understanding. But it is clear that what is most and least valued are tied together in our psyche in some ways.

A slightly different approach comes from the alchemists. In the photo, you can see that the bird - a symbol of birth and generation - is gilding the sleeping woman, simultaneously covering her in gold (albeit gold ex alimentum) and inseminating her. This moves the creative process back one step, yet continues the relationship among feces, gold, and creative power.
IMG_1278

In popular culture, we continue the relationship between that which is most and least valued. Passing around some potent cannabis, one may proclaim “this is really good shit.” When my band was first starting out, we asked a professional musician to help us out with some musical direction. On those occasions when we got into a good groove, he would boom through his microphone, “Yeah! That’s the shit!”

The relationship between gold and feces may seem ironic to us, but a more sophisticated understanding is also possible. We can see that even the most valuable things eventually decay and are made base, as Chris Griffin reminds us in one episode of Family Guy as he pointedly tells a pastry, “I’m turning you into poop!”

Each New Year’s Eve, the Saturnian image of the white-bearded Old Year standing by the newborn New Year must make us aware that in 365 days that infant will have its turn at age and decrepitude. The awareness that all things are ultimately transient can move us towards a spiritual perspective, seeking after that which is not subject to decay and change.

We can also move in the other direction, along with the alchemists, who sought to change base substances into gold, which does not tarnish. The alchemists sought to save matter, to infuse it with spirit and thus make it into gold, which is as near to an eternal substance as they knew. Today, we have mountains of plastic and stockpiles of refined nuclear material that offer a very different view of matter as eternally enduring, and we may be like Midas, questioning the wisdom of everlasting material.

Why begin 2014 with a discussion of these things? The New Year coincides with the Capricorn new moon, which is closely conjunct the planet Pluto. Astrologically, we would say that this configuration sets the tone for the coming year.

Pluto is associated with the sign of Scorpio, and the image is of death and rebirth, of the transformation that comes from the cycle of life and death. Pluto is also associated with both the colon and the reproductive organs (elimination and generation) and also with money (gold). We can use waste as fertilizer, and decaying vegetation provides the food for future plants. Life grows out of death. Scorpio is also associated with healing, where a trip into difficult territory is often needed. As Jung said, it is in the muck of the unconscious, with all its past emotional wounds, that we find the gold of healing and the self.

Capricorn is an Earth sign, bringing us into the material realm. Yet the sign of the seagoat (whatever that is) is not about raw materials so much as product, the end result of careful planning, planting, harvesting, and then fabrication. It is the sign of the farmer, not the hunter-gatherer. It is Saturnian, and thus it is industrious. Capricorn is also about our institutions, to which we turn our attention when our basic needs (Cancer) are met.

The rulers of Capricorn and Pluto are in each others’ signs, forming what astrologers call mutual reception. This cooperative aspect has fueled a great rally in stocks over the last year or so, and has also helped Plutocratic powers like banks, government spy agencies, and other power brokers. Yet Pluto works by intensifying that which needs to change, bringing things to an extreme so that they can begin a counter-swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction.

New York City recently elected progressive Bill De Blasio after two decades of Plutocratic rule by Rudolf Guiliani and Mike Bloomberg. De Blasio was elected after an eclipse in which Uranus opposed the Jupiter of the city’s chart, and he was sworn in less than an hour before the sun’s conjunction with Pluto. Perhaps he represents this turning from one extreme to its opposite.

On a macro level, 2014 is likely to be another year when we see a struggle between Plutocratic and progressive forces. This will be intensified, particularly in April when the Uranus-Pluto square hits the U.S. sun. Change is needed, and this new moon signals that further changes (for there have been many already) is on the way.

On a personal level, we are also in a position to rethink our relationship to money. Sure, it is fine to want change for the other person, but you don’t want anything to happen to the corporations that make up your pension portfolio, do you? What is your ultimate disposition towards possessions? Are you competitive? Cooperative?

Saturn encourages us to consolidate. Look to where you spend both your money and your energy. What can be winnowed away from your life to create new space for more valuable projects to grow?

Pluto demands the we go deep in the process. What do we really value? What are we really about? If we could create a world where we were could be more concerned with being than surviving, would we do so?

2014 is a year to roll up our sleeves and dive into the depths, finding the gold coin, in whatever form it takes for us. Most new moons are about setting intentions, about deciding where to go - they look to the future. This new moon is more about setting priorities: given the time and resources available to you, where will you devote yourself? Where do you find your true self in the world?

Where is the real shit?