Mercury stations direct

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When Mercury goes retrograde, the information it imparts has to do with the sign it’s in and the aspects it makes to other planets during the retrograde cycle. It will have a specific message for our own individual natal charts, but it will have a collective message for all of us, too.

Mercury stationed retrograde November 16th at 13°29’ Sagittarius, squaring Neptune in Pisces. Mentally, we were all in a fog about something. It stations direct today at 4:22 p.m. EST at 27°16’ Scorpio. For many of us this has been a rough one, but hopefully it also has brought all of us a little more clarity.

What informs this clarity?

During any Mercury retrograde period, insights arrive both from within ourselves and from the past in some way. Yesterday Shutterfly helpfully sent me this reminder of how incredibly cute Lyndon was. Shutterfly regularly sends me photo memories, and most of them are sweet. But it rarely sends me pictures of Lyndon’s. First. Christmas. And that’s the feeling of the end of this retrograde cycle in Scorpio. What we’re seeing or taking in through any of our senses deeply pierces our hearts in some way. Maybe we missed the learning opportunity the first time around, or we forgot it in some way that was crucial. And if the lesson is deep and powerful enough, it can take our breath away. This was a retrograde of searing truths. So if you’re in that heavy space, honor the breadth and depth of what you’ve been processing.

Mercury retrograde famously is associated with mistakes, misunderstandings, and glitches. And they can be our teachers, too – slowing us down, helping us be more intentional. This Mercury retrograde cycle I tried to pay attention to the interactions I had because of the setbacks. Who or what showed up to help me? Who or what had I not noticed until a moment of frustration or vulnerability? Which creative options did I discover out of necessity that I may want to carry forward with me?

During this retrograde period I also heard my own words or vocal tone comes back to me – for good and for bad. I heard kindness and encouragement from coworkers, a cheery sing-song from my Mom. I heard an aggravated, impatient tone in Lyndon’s voice that never used to be there. They were different illustrations of my own voice, showing me what I like about my communication and what I can still do better.

At the beginning of this retrograde period, Mercury squared Mars. And so in some way, Mars has been our teacher. Conflict and courage were part of the message of the past three weeks. As we encountered anger, aggression, will, or fear, have we drawn a boundary or forged ahead in a new, uncharted way?

Later Mercury aligned with the sun and Jupiter in Sagittarius. Part of this inward or backward retreat has been to reclaim our own faith, hope, light, and immensity. What did we forget or never notice about our own possibility and essence? Because Mercury travels so closely to the sun and retrogrades three times a year, we get this chance symbolically to see and express ourselves anew several times a year. But this sun/Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius related to the self we want to be philosophically. Our beliefs have been in the spotlight. Exploration and wisdom have been in the spotlight. And hopefully this searching period has shown us some risks we needed to take to be more true and free.

As Mercury stations direct on this day when the Sagittarius moon joins the same degree as Jupiter, it could soothe us to absorb and connect meaning to some of the wisdom we’ve personally gained during the last three weeks. Importantly, tomorrow will be a new moon and Mars and Neptune will join at the same degree. Our strength is aligned with something bigger than we are, even if we still can’t yet see the way forward.

This Mercury retrograde has come during Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Temple after its desecration, and Advent, the Christian season of waiting for the arrival of Christ. And in that duality we find ourselves: Even as there’s more to prepare for and anticipate, there are victories and signs of hope, big and small, worth seeing and celebrating.

 

 

 

A poem for the Moon in Leo

Yesterday a reader of my posts reached out to me to ask me how I’m doing. I haven’t written in a while. The truth is with my 1st House Aries moon I’m a person of passionate phases, and some (like my Whitney Houston phase) last and some (like my Madonna phase) don’t. I can’t rush or fake them. They confuse even me. I was wondering if writing might be another of my phases.

The past month I’ve looked at the daily aspects but haven’t known what to say about them. I couldn’t find my voice. I was hoping that when Neptune stationed direct last week I would be clearer. I wanted to be helpful and productive again.

I sat down yesterday to write something about the moon in Leo, but this came out instead. The current Mercury retrograde began at the same degree as my natal Neptune, and I’m still in a Neptune-y fog. Neptune can represent dreams, images, poetry, water, inspiration, loss, confusion, longing, and oneness with God and all that is.

I don’t know if this is a poem or a reflection. The moon is still in Leo, combining feeling and mystery with the risk of showing and sharing who we really are. Today I am nebulous and in-between, but still wanting to connect and wish you peace.

----
Sometimes I don’t water the plants in my office,
even when I know they’re thirsty.
Instead we behold each other,
desolate and parched.

One day could become five or seven.
I might water this plant but not those.
I never know how much company I’ll need in my yellowed, drooping state
or for how long.

The tips of their leaves turn brown
until finally I’m moved to save them
with water and not just what’s left of my tea.
The next day they’re greener, grateful.

Maybe I’m not a lily of the field
but a potted plant
on a dusty sill:
Long- waiting and wilted,
Then, suddenly, saved.

On telling our story and the hope of Jupiter in Sagittarius

Astrology fascinates me as a tool to understand family systems, including my own. I love to hear people’s stories and then see how the symbols in their charts reveal an added dimension to the challenges they've faced and the resources they have. I asked my brother Rich if I could share some of his story.

Rich was a Full Moon baby. He was born with the Sagittarius moon opposite the Gemini sun. His moon, Venus and Mercury are all “out of bounds”, which astrologer Tony Howard describes to non-astrologers this way: “...An out of bounds planet is as high or low as it can go from our view on Earth. Imagine a midline that all of the planets more or less travel along. Each can travel above and below that midline. But some get really far up there, even further than the Sun can go. And that’s when we call them ‘out of bounds.’” Out of bounds planets correlate with innovation and out-of-the-box originality, but also with extremes. The full moon and out of bounds planets in Rich’s chart reflect this inner and outer experience of extremes, in his emotions (moon), his processing and communication (Mercury), and his relationships (Venus). Rich was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a senior in high school.

Rich is a rapper and a poet, very fitting for a Gemini who is here to teach and witness. He raps about his experience of feeling suicidal and our Mom’s herculean faith:

“Fetal position for days. Mom tellin’ me God is good and this is only a phase.”

In astrology the opposition aspect is an interesting one: It can symbolize what opposes you or seems out of reach and what is also your partner. His out of bounds Sagittarius moon at once represents the bipolar genes he inherited, the hope and comfort that have at his lowest point seemed unreachable, and the mother who has helped pull him out of his own mind, toward faith and love. Our mother was hospitalized with post-partum psychosis when Rich was seven. In this way I see the out of bounds quality of his moon as a gift: If you’ve walked through Hell like Rich has, how much would it help to have a parent who has been where you are and won’t give up on you, no matter what? How would your broken spirit require that?

Our suns ultimately show us how we’re here to shine individually, and though Rich’s sun is so significantly tied to his moon, his story is not my mother’s. It’s unique to him. Three out of bounds planets reflect a path of freedom and individuation. He learned to write poetry just as our Mom did, but his poems are a different style, and he also raps. He learned to have faith just as our Mom does, but to him Church became riding the subway or walking to buy milk from the neighborhood store. And he teaches just as our Mom did, but not high school: Rich leads groups as a peer advocate, at times in the same hospital unit where he stayed after his own breakdowns.

Rich is 51, an astrologically significant age, because it refers to your Chiron return. Chiron is the symbol of the wounded healer, and it takes 51 years for the centaur to make a full trip around a person’s chart, returning to the spot where it was when s/he was born. We all have the option to become attached to a description of ourselves as wounded; the reality is that life is hard and we would be justified. But people who navigate their Chiron return gracefully take on a mentoring role for others and use their own experience of wounding to help and heal others.

Here’s a poem Rich wrote recently. He’ll be the featured poet next week at the Queens main library, and in generous Rich fashion, he’s invited Lyndon to perform a poem during the Open Mic portion. I don’t know if Lyndon will. Really, we’re all so excited see Rich. If you find yourself in Queens on November 18th, please join us.

Now that Jupiter has entered Sagittarius, beginning a year’s trip through the sign, may you find hope in your own story, reasons to believe in your own great gifts, and ways to share them that fill you with confidence and joy.

'never Ladybugs'
these days,
i am grateful for the moments
when i am forced to narrow my focus.
---------------------------------------------------
for example,
when there was a Ladybug on my leg
a few days ago.
that dominated my thoughts for a minute or two.
i was sitting in my apartment when i noticed her,
so i took her outside and realized how lucky she was
to not know all the things we know.
to be a four-spotted citizen of the world.
------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------------------
my pet Corn Snake Julius had a respiratory infection last week.
his breathing sounded like a bowl of rice crispies.
i went online and learned
that you can treat it
with a couple of plastic containers
and a bowl of hot water with vicks in it.
it did the trick.
-------------------
-----------------------
human beings let us down.
never Ladybugs
never Julius
never tupperware
never vicks
----------------
we are lacking.
---------------------
a Butterfly is never less than a Butterfly.
not even in these times.
---------------------------------
these times,
according to newspapers and magazines,
were made for poetry.
that's a lot of pressure.
-------------------------------
better for a Ladybug to land on your leg, i think.
or for you to save a Snake from pneumonia.
better for you to look into the eyes of someone you've missed.
and for you to be, for one another,
a respite


On making it work for us: The Leo moon opposite Mars in Aquarius

Ever since I was little, I remember hearing my mother change the words to prayers and rituals so they would be more meaningful, inclusive and inspiring. "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and "for us men and for our salvation" became "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" and "for US and for our salvation." She thought of worship as celebration. She felt called to participate fully, and she wasn't going to reduce her expression of a welcoming, loving God to gender or exclude herself from God's love.

She was always making tweaks, and she uttered them loudly. Of course, this was a little odd. It made her seem like she didn't know the real words. It meant sometimes she was out of step with the group. 

Today during Mass for the Feast of St. Francis, we remembered the saint who loved all living creatures and wrote poems to the sun and the moon.

And I found myself channeling my Mom, as I contemplated the following words:
"Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

I've struggled with this response for a while. I've wondered, is it the capital "I" that's the problem? Is it ego, selfishness or separateness that makes us unworthy? For a few years now I've tried to see beyond myself and become a little "i." But the words still always felt clumsy – absent of the love, acceptance and peace of Jesus Christ. Yes, we're human. Yes, we're flawed. But unworthy? Aren't we created in God's image?

I thought about the messages of spiritual teachers old and new, male and female. They call us to engagement, action, and attention, and help us see how we can stretch. For many of us, that means learning to stand in the light.

And so I tweaked the words. I said, "Lord, I AM worthy that you should enter under my roof, so only say the word and my soul shall be healed." 

Today the moon is in the sign of Leo, reminding us of our inborn dignity and worth, at odds with what can make us feel disconnected, challenging what can make us feel ashamed. 

I hope at some point you can feel the presence of someone who's taught you you're deserving of love. I hope you see that you're part of a beautiful whole. And I hope you can express yourself honestly, even when you're noticeably out of step.


The jarring Aries full moon: Growing -- and speaking -- up

The new moon that began this cycle symbolized the Virgo ideal: The worldly connecting us to the holy, like Barbara Brown Taylor's metaphor of laundry as prayer flag. Some part of our home base and identity takes on a level of higher meaning and becomes sacred through attention and ritual. But Virgo, as it seeks and reaches perfection, is a mutable sign. We never really stay “there”, or “there” changes.

And… so must we. This week's Aries full moon is revealing what’s no longer working as is through tension, passion, and conflict. It carries the energy of wanting to break out or break away – to shake free of complacency. Exploration. Fight. Flight. The Libra sun is rebalancing the scales somewhat. What truly fits or is fair now?

When I was growing up, the Thursday night NBC line-up was a big deal in our house. As New Yorkers in a large family The Cosby Show felt like watching ourselves: The doting husband, the sassy Mom, the occasional songs and choreographed dances. Eleven years ago, as Lang and I were about to start our own family, a Cosby Show marathon on the maternity room TV helped us relax, and even laugh, through some of my labor.

Yesterday Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison for drugging and sexually assaulting women.

Whenever Libra is involved, the paradox of two truths plays a role, and that’s a big message of Monday's full moon. It’s true that I'm nostalgic about The Cosby Show. It’s true that I stand with survivors of sexual abuse. But Saturn in Capricorn was the apex of that t-square between the Libra sun and full Aries moon. Now that I’m an adult, which truth is more important? And are they really equal?

I noticed that Lyndon is starting that walk-half-a-block-ahead-of-your-mother phase. He’s using teenaged phrases like, “Whatever”— but softly, carefully — like the first time you say a word in a foreign language. I’m usually the one forging ahead: the coach. But at this stage Lyndon is learning boldness, directness, and independence, and I’m learning a more supportive role, and often a more worried one: Will he look both ways when he crosses the street? Will he hug me for a full five seconds? The other morning as I automatically straightened out the waistband of his sweatpants, it dawned on me: I really should ask before I do that. It’s a matter of respect I simply never considered before.

Whether we’re learning to be more assertive or more cooperative – or both – this week can be emotionally tense and jarring, as we realize we need to draw or accept new boundaries, as we take on new patterns of being and relating.

Some behaviors are no longer appropriate. And some have never been appropriate, but now our eyes are open. The Aries full moon reminds us: Take an honest look before deciding something's sacred or even simply fine as-is. For all of us on some level, it's time for a change.

We're accountable in a way we haven't been before.

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.

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.