Mercury square Saturn: Remember to listen and look

In November of last year a seed was planted. Mercury and Saturn joined at the same degree of Sagittarius. They joined together once more the next month, and finally the next – this time in Capricorn. Since then our mental processing and voice have had to pass through a series of stages toward wisdom, transformation and staying power, but not without grief, setbacks, and a lot of hard work.

How have your thinking and voice matured or left a mark since last November? What external events reflected a need to do so?

Wherever Saturn is going through your birth chart can seem like things are moving too slowly and you have to face too much alone. Today’s square from Mercury in Libra reminds us we have help. It reminds us there’s something we haven’t considered. It reminds us not to get too weighed down.

If we’ve been avoiding the work or letting someone else do it, it’s the reverse: Today is a reality check. Either way, it’s for our own benefit.

I’ve been plodding along but not always remembering the message of risk, reaching, freedom, and truth. That was the original promise. The Capricorn message of careful planning, uphill climbing, and a very long wait – winter – has probably been closer to my mindset. It’s been hard for me to stay hopeful. Today I needed to lighten up, look around, and breathe. The moon and Neptune coming together today help us return to our dream or start a new one.

Saturn in Capricorn is serious business, but growing up can inspire and teach us, too. Remember this process actually started as an arrow and a flame.

A photo memoir to usher in the Libra sun

A while ago my friend Lauren-Miranda suggested I write a photo memoir about this photo. To usher in the Libra sun, I took on the assignment, and asked my Mom if she wanted to also. We didn’t read what each other wrote until afterwards.

Different points of view, back-and-forth, mutual appreciation, and love. Not to mention balance — while mine is long and more serious, Mom’s is short and more sweet. Welcome, Libra season!

This Venus retrograde pre-shadow period is a good time for looking back and more deeply as a path to healing and peace. If you’d like to, a photo memoir can be a great tool.

Amy Aries rising.jpg

Mom’s Take:

"There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  And when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid":)

I like this photo.  And I loved that little red and white polka dot dress and the red, patent leather t-strap shoes.  Looking closely, you might recognize that when Amy stood up, the dress was way above her knees.  If Amy liked an outfit, she would wear it, no matter if she had clearly outgrown it.  She could not be dissuaded.
Amy looks amused here and as if she's considering something or someone; that makes me smile.  Most often, she was up and about and acting independently.  I like that she chose to sit next to me.

My face looks pensive and I imagine I may have been thinking:  "I'm relaxed now...I wonder for how long".  With 5 children to oversee, most of the time I was on duty.  But here I am, seated next to Amy, in a lounge chair.  I think this may have been taken at my Mom and Aunt Catherine's home in Port Jefferson, which was a great "resting" place.  I could sit down and even sit back and watch.  On weekends there were often so many people there... my siblings, their spouses and their children;  I may even have been having an "adult conversation".  I look intent and my head is tilted a bit to the side, in what has been described as the Alexandro "listening pose." :)

I really don't remember.  But when I see this picture, it brings me great joy.  We did it.  Despite some chaotic and even doubtful beginnings, I can see clearly now, that this "little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead" has grown up and into her identity. She is a most gifted, generous and loving human being, still amused and engaged by life and committed to living it to the fullest.

My Take:

This picture of my Mom and me is one of my favorites, and not just because she looks so badass.

Actually, that’s just my Mom’s Listening Face. She’s an intense listener – a committed one. When I was growing up, her bookshelves and nightstand had rows and stacks of communication books: Couple’s Communication, The Dance of Anger…. My siblings and I would tease her when we caught her trying a new technique. “Mom, are you ‘active listening’?” She was serious and sincere. She rarely blinked. She wanted to support and really see you.

People sought out my mother for her listening. I’d find them sitting with her on our couch or around our dining room table when I got home from school. Or I’d see my mother in the rocking chair, eyes closed, nodding, phone pressed to her ear. People showed up with problems, or sorrows, and my Mom simply listened. She might reflect your words back to you. She might check in to make sure she fully understood. But mostly, she let you speak.

When you’re a late talker it helps to have a mom who’s an excellent listener.

I didn’t learn to speak until I was about three and a half. In those days early intervention consisted of my grandfather lighting candles for me in church. People wondered if I was deaf, or slow. My Mom didn’t worry or judge me. She was just patient, in the way that mothers with multiple children learn to be patient. It’ll come. She’ll get there.

I was the fifth child, born two years after my Mom was hospitalized for post-partum depression and psychosis. Everything about my Mom welcoming me into the world was brave, including the way she gave birth. In the labor room, surrounded by the doctor, a nurse, and my Dad, she tried to convince the doctor that it was time to go to the delivery room – she could feel the baby coming -- but the doctor dismissed her. He said there was plenty of time and left the room. Immediately I started to crown. The nurse ran to get the doctor and my petrified Dad fled, too. His first children were born in the 60s, when doctors knocked women out with drugs and Dads waited in separate rooms. He didn’t think he was supposed to be there.

On the table in the labor room, my Mom delivered me herself, alone.

Until I started nursery school, I was basically attached to my Mom. She carried me longer than strangers thought she should; she always made room for me on her lap. This picture was taken before I learned to form full sentences. I’m guessing I was watching my siblings and cousins play. Even though my eyes are twinkling, my posture is protective. I wasn’t yet ready to venture out.

I was born to a Mom who was scared she wasn’t ready either, but still she made space for me. I only have one child. I’ll never understand how my Mom could have welcomed a fifth, especially when she still felt so vulnerable. And not a dainty child, either. I was born messy, pushy. I grunted. Even without words, I insisted. My Mom had to teach me to be more careful and more considerate. But she never shamed what I had to say, however I found a way to say it.

Now I’m a writer. In the dark before my family wakes up, I sit at my own dining room table and explore my deepest feelings. And then I post them on the internet. And after I do and throughout the day, I assume the same posture I had in this photo: My back arches and I wish I could hide. Why did I ever do that?!

My Mom is someone who understands phases and stages and has always clung to faith. And now when I write about the stars, I try to do the same: To honor what’s hard, or scary, or new, but universal, and also somehow meaningful and good. And I use myself as an example. But sometimes five minutes after I’ve written about a feeling or experience I’m already onto the next. So I’ll want to delete what I wrote, because having it out there makes me vulnerable. Five minutes after I post something personal, I’m usually utterly humiliated.

I imagine the doctor in the labor room telling my Mom she was wrong.

When I see this picture I understand why I keep sharing. I was born to a badass and a great listener. I was born to someone contemplative and brave. And in that terrifying act of coming forward, I bridge the small, sacred space between us: The messy, inhibited little girl and the loving, powerful woman, determined to face the truth.

Before Virgo leaves....


The sun in Virgo can be a fretful experience. Ruling Virgo is speedy Mercury, noticing everything, drawing our attention to this or that. It can be hard to feel settled. There are just so many coulds and shoulds — a never-ending to-do or to-improve list.

The yearbook photographer has taken up shop these last two days in the faculty/staff room in my school. Every time we initial the sign-in sheet or grab a cup of coffee, we're confronted with just how much we hate our own pictures. Those of us who especially despised last year’s picture have a chance to retake it, awkwardly, in front of everyone in the room. Often, the new one is no better. We borrow hair products from each other or try to make each other smile, but pretty much everyone I see walks away with the same reaction: It is what it is. Maybe use last year’s, after all.

Yesterday I couldn’t bring myself to eat lunch in the faculty lounge. I went to the quiet, dark chapel instead, and cried. I didn’t even know why I was crying. A colleague walked in, and sat in her own pew. When I passed her to leave I noticed she was crying, too.

On the stairs leading to the chapel hangs this picture of St. Clare.

Virgo season can remind us almost cruelly how life, and we, are less than perfect. That's not Virgo's intent, any more than it's the yearbook photographer's intent to make us all feel gross. But anything that's not-quite-right has gotten our attention and by now maybe somehow deflated us.

Tonight Mercury and the sun will be at the same degree in Virgo. In some way we need to attend to a new vision of ourselves. The astrological symbol of the sun is a dot surrounded by a circle -- the seed of potential within a vast and greater whole.

Tomorrow Mercury will change signs to Libra, and the next day, the sun will, too.

My frizzy hair and failings, your fill-in-the-blank. Before the mirror of eternity — even as we are right now — I hope we can see beauty and find peace.

Fight, freedom, and helping: Mars square Uranus under a Virgo sun

 “Black Bird” by Benny Andrews

“Black Bird” by Benny Andrews

Today Mars in Aquarius squares Uranus in Taurus. This is a closing square that relates to their conjunction or joining in Aries in late February 2017.

Mars square Uranus is a stressful energy. I’m gonna be real with you. This one stumped me, because I always read the sky as a message from a God who loves us. Why would we ever need more stress???

Virgo season is about doing the best we can in the human condition. Discriminating how we can do better and be useful to each other here on earth. Today’s moon/Pluto conjunction symbolizes that it’s time for some deeper reflection.

Think about your effort and progress over the last year and a half. Is there any resource or relationship you have now that you didn’t have or realize then? Think about all the scary things you’ve faced and survived. How has a group joined or supported you?

Today try to feel any love that has helped settle you and notice any progress in your personal fight. Unfortunately, it’s not over. But in some ways that’s actually a good thing, because what we’ve learned can now help others.

In the end, the fight was never really about just us.

When Saturn feels too heavy: The Capricorn moon conjunct Saturn

The moon is in the sign of Capricorn today. At 12:24 p.m. EDT it will be at the same degree as Saturn.

Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, orients us to hugeness and expansion: The sky’s the limit. But beyond Jupiter, Saturn symbolically structures us. It gives us the ability to narrow down all the vast possibilities to the ones that matter most and suit us best. It’s connected to legacy. But Saturn can also just feel HEAVY, giving us a serious, sober tone. For better or worse, Saturn reminds us of personal limits and age.

Enter the influence of the moon. Take time to visualize and then focus your dream in some way today. If you notice certain ways you’ve become overcommitted or disorganized, give yourself a loving but serious talk. Kindly bring yourself back to the basics.

Between Jupiter of hopes, dreams, and greatness and Uranus of unexpected breakthroughs, individual genius, and freedom, lies Saturn: Time-honored traditions, effort, planning, patience, silence, solitude, work. Somehow today it will help all of us to eat our vegetables or come to a full stop at a Stop sign. In the long run, it’s for our own benefit.

Before Uranus was discovered in 1781, Saturn was thought to be the last planet in the solar system with the slowest cycle, taking 29 years to orbit the sun. At that time in England, life expectancy for males was less than 35. A Uranus cycle is 84 years, closer to modern life expectancy in industrialized nations. Progress seems slow over time but eventually it’s startling.

Honor Saturn today. Reflect on the positives of your age and experience. But try not to let the demands of reality right now overwhelm you. Remember that something beyond, unexpected, and still unseen exists, too.

The first quarter moon and an emotional crisis

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Lyndon started middle school this month, and I didn’t realize until this morning how worried I’ve been.

Lang’s worries have been more on the social scale: Will the other kids be nice to Lyndon, will he be bullied or picked on? Mine, I realized this morning, have been more academic. Will teachers get him? Is he ready for a faster pace and more work? How will he handle 6th grade?!

This morning, my Overzealous Mom instinct somehow led me to these 6th grade ELA test questions from 2017.

I panicked when I saw the first response. Lyndon doesn’t write like that: Legibly, with abundant detail. Then I saw the second response, with erasures and misspellings. That answer looked more like Lyndon’s. As different as they are, somehow they both got full credit: “This response includes complete sentences where errors do not affect readability.” I didn’t know how much I needed to read that sentence.

I don’t really care about test scores. But sometimes in elementary school, Lyndon felt dumb. And as a Mom I’m an action figure. What does that mean we need to do? How can I change that? What needs to happen here?

Today the Sagittarius moon will make a square to the Virgo sun.

“The Moon, of course, is always about relationship, to oneself, others and life. We could say that the Sun represents your life – life force, life direction, potency. As the Moon moves away from the Sun, it is reaching out to connect with life, emotionally, so it can live its day-to-day life in response to the call of its Sun, its spirit. By the time it hits the square there is a crisis.”

-         Darby Costello, The Astrological Moon

Today we may become more aware of a crisis that’s been brewing emotionally for us. The Virgo sun can symbolize our idea of perfection. There may be some way we think life, or we, aren’t measuring up. What’s been moving away from you? Can the change help you follow the call of your own spirit?

I was the kind of student who added extra lines to essay tests to make sure I answered the question thoroughly. I wanted to prove myself and impress my teachers. Lyndon, on the other hand, wants to finish quickly and get back to whatever interests him. Every year he moves more and more out of my identity and range of control and more into a fuller expression of himself. And I think that’s what I’ve been coming to terms with.

A few hours ago Lyndon woke up and kissed us. He thanked Lang for doing the laundry. Lyndon gives us credit for basic things like filling the gas tank or food shopping. “Wow! Thank you for buying bread!” There’s a reason two worried perfectionists needed someone both kinder and more independent to join us in our home, celebrating the small things, not trying to change us into anything we’re not.

He highlighted that sentence in the photo for me, because I didn’t know how to. In his spare time Lyndon teaches himself Photoshop.

All of us in some area are having to redefine wholeness and success. With today’s Sagittarius moon we can all use a little hope or wisdom. If we look for it, we’ll find it. Maybe we have to push a little harder or be more strategic, or maybe we need to be more spacious in the way we’re viewing. Something about our previous judgment needs to evolve.

As for me, going forward, I’ll try to give my son — and myself — more credit.






Scorpio Moon and the storm

 Photo by Ansel Adams

Photo by Ansel Adams

Yesterday I didn’t know what to say about both Venus and the moon in Scorpio opposing Uranus in Taurus. I didn’t want to sound alarmist. There can always be a range of expressions. But many of us were confronted by heavy feelings in the face of something unpredictable or disturbing.

Scorpio brings up issues of control, fear, passion, paranoia. It intensifies feelings in general, even happy ones. But Scorpio energy opposing Uranus in Taurus can be especially intense, raw, shocking and real as we try to find our actual footing and an internal sense of control at the same time, triggered by a complicated relationship or circumstance.  

For me the symbolism played out extremely literally: I participated in a mandatory security training at my school so I’d know what to do if confronted by an active shooter. We huddled under desks while our coworker came at us with a Nerf gun to illustrate how ineffectual the old advice of simply hiding was. It left us like sitting ducks. We learned how to barricade a door and how to counter as a very last resort. The best option, if available – if you know there is enough distance between you and the shooter – is to get away.  

We live in a world where I feel compelled to teach my son this information to keep him safe. And yet a neighbor I just met has dutifully picked Lyndon up from school every day along with her own daughter because I’m not able to. There is unexpected goodness, too.  

This week some of us have been processing deep feelings around trauma we’ve lived through. Others are facing an actual storm.

Today while the Scorpio moon trines Neptune and then Mercury opposes it, strategy and planning mix with the unknown, the uncharted, the fog. And yet in exactly that space we can find inspiration and a good-enough way through.