This sculpture by Kees Verkade, “Tightrope Walker” was part of my Aries full moon meditation today.
When a child is born the birth chart reflects just a transit or passing moment for the rest of the world, but for the child it reflects the life experiences and a set of instructions that will theoretically lead to a joy-filled and nourishing life. If the child is ours, the transit of their birth is more than a moment. It represents ways we will continue to grow ourselves: A commitment not only to our child but to the instructions of their birth moment, which we continue to face in every interaction we have with them. If you have a Pisces child, you can’t escape lessons in going with the flow, imagination, empathy, surrender. Twelve-plus years ago, Langston and I had an Aquarius baby.
Aquarius is a fixed air sign. It’s the water-bearer, which confuses people into thinking it’s a water sign. But the water that Aquarius shares is of the air variety: Thoughts, ideas, knowledge, information. Aquarius is associated with movements and humanitarianism. Aquarians are often ahead of their time. Aquarius is co-ruled by the planets Saturn and Uranus. Saturn, long-thought to be the last planet of the solar system, and Uranus, the only other planet besides Venus to spin clockwise rather than counter-clockwise. Uranus takes it one step further and rotates on its side instead of upright. The Saturnian part of us is the way we must persist and work for a worthwhile legacy. The Uranian part of us is the way we have to spin absolutely in our own direction; as alienating as this can be, this will also often connect us to a kindred group. Discovered after the American and French Revolutions, Uranus is the planet of rebellions. It’s associated with shock and originality.
When two people form a relationship, astrologically they create a composite chart. Two individual charts meet in the middle to form something brand new. Lang’s and my composite sun and moon are in Aquarius, and so Lyndon was born to an Aquarian couple. It’s becoming more normal now, but on the day he was born our mixed marriage still turned some heads. As Langston looked through the nursery glass at our son, a nurse who knew my family pushed him out of the way. “I know the family”, she said, curtly. My brother Ted corrected her: “This is Amy’s husband. He’s the father.” She simply didn’t imagine anything but a white husband for the daughter of a white family she knew.
We didn’t baptize Lyndon when he was born because we didn’t want to limit him -- not only in his conception and relationship to a higher power but also in his acceptance of himself and others. Our Catholic Church still preached that the expression of gay sexuality was a sin. We didn’t know if our baby was gay, but we didn’t want sign onto those beliefs just in case. And so we held a Blessing Ceremony for Lyndon, we chose godparents for him, but we waited.
When Pope Francis became the head of the Church, Lang and I were touched by his humanity and compassion. We have a Pope Francis bobblehead in our attic, along with RBG and other people we admire. We started attending Mass more regularly. Every so often we’d ask Lyndon, “Would you like to be baptized?” “Maybe,” he’d say, always noncommittal. During Mass Lyndon would move his knees to the side so we could pass him to join the communion line. It didn’t seem to bother him too much not to be able to receive communion himself, even as he got older. He’d kneel to pray, or sing, and then he’d scooch over to make room for us when we returned.
Recently we started attending Episcopal liturgy as a family. Lang and I had become exhausted trying to fit ourselves into the Catholic Church. During the first Episcopal liturgy we attended I remember the moment when we prayed for “Gerilyn, our Bishop.” Gerilyn?? Lang and I looked at each other, excited.
In prayer I think symbolically, so that when I hear “Father”, I think “Parent.” When I hear “man” I think “human.” But there was something about hearing an actual woman’s name within the hierarchy of church that made my heart dance that day. I was raised by a mother who had earned a Master’s in Theology while raising five children. When my parents went to India as a young family to teach Marriage Encounter to Catholic couples there, it was because my Mom had heard and acted on a calling. Once we were in school ourselves, my Mom became a religious education teacher. When we’d come down the stairs to make our breakfast we’d find Mom on a living room chair, wrapped in a prayer blanket and passionately writing Bible reflections. My Dad is faithful, too. But my Mom actually wanted to be a married priest. One day a pastor asked my Dad whether he would like to be considered for the role of deacon. My Dad declined. It became a joke between my parents, how my Mom does all the work and my Dad gets all the glory, but it was still telling and hurtful. My Mom didn’t have the option to become a deacon.
Couples outside of the Catholic Church have asked my Mom to marry them. People recognize gifts where institutions may not. But my Mom’s broken heart not to be included as a full member of the Church she loved is a wound that shaped me -- a way for so many years I also internalized being less-than.
One day at our new Episcopal Church Father Tom invited people to meet him after liturgy if they were interested in renewing their faith or baptizing their children. Lyndon whispered to us, “I think I want to be baptized.” Father Tom was a little taken aback when Lyndon approached him after liturgy, directly asking to be baptized. Later when we asked Lyndon why he finally decided to be baptized and why he picked the Episcopal Church, Lyndon said ,”It’s because of women priests and LGBTQ rights.”
Lyndon has heard us discuss these things in our home. He knows these are our values. But he is the first of our family to take a public, religious stand in that direction.
And so I don’t know who brought the water to whom -- Lyndon to us or we to Lyndon. But in the beginning light of yesterday’s Taurus new moon, as Lyndon prepares for his baptism next month, I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned these twelve years as his Mom -- of planting roots and becoming free.
Sometimes while I’m driving Lyndon to school we’ll talk about one astrological concept that can get us through the day. When I was looking at the chart of the day this morning, what popped in my mind is Venus.
Friday is ruled by Venus, whose gifts are love, beauty, art, and peace. Today’s Libra moon is also ruled by Venus. So there’s a double message of peace and connection with others. Where the message gets nuanced is in the current sign of Venus, Sagittarius. Sagittarius is an independence-loving sign, seeking and striving for adventure and inspiration. And restlessness isn’t always a great remedy for peace. So how do we reconcile these energies?
That’s for all of us to explore personally, but just knowing that both coexist might help us through today. Maybe we can seek interactions with interesting people; maybe learning, reading, or exploring in some other way can bring us peace. And maybe taking time to remember our best adventures or start planning our next one can help us see where we have freedom and options and get reacquainted with inspiration again.
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.
i am grateful for the moments
when i am forced to narrow my focus.
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.
we are lacking.
a Butterfly is never less than a Butterfly.
not even in 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,
These past couple of days had some challenges. It’s not so simple to reconcile the moon’s Aquarius energy of social interaction and curiosity with the deeply-feeling, protective energy of the three Scorpio planets it’s squaring. Do we get out there or do we stay hidden?
I’m easily hurt and embarrassed. And I’m also part-extrovert. So I don’t really know how to do this dance.
The Libra sun symbolizes a balancing act, and Venus retrograde hints that maybe in the past it hasn’t always gone so smoothly. But the moon always symbolizes the great healer: Unconditional love that doesn’t leave us. The moon is tidally locked to the earth, always showing us the same face, brighter or darker, more or less visible, but always there.
I hope you feel connected to that love today.
Mars will spend one more month in Aquarius, and won’t return to the sign until March 2020. If your world's been rocked by unpredictable events or the actions of others lately, that could be welcome news. But today’s moon/Mars conjunction also symbolizes a chance to make peace with Aquarian energy and if we're ready, to get ourselves going again.
We might've had fits of “What’s the point?” while Mars has been in Aquarius. We've probably had bouts where we just needed to mentally check out. Today the energy of the moon can help us soften and heal the angry, scared, or dejected parts of us so we can reawaken our own special groove.
Mars represents our desire nature. So what is it you want?
At some point today, name a result or inner feeling that you really want.
What we don’t want has probably been clearer lately. But today marks an opportunity to reflect on and change any energy that’s been stuck in simple rebellion or detachment into creative, inspired, original action toward something that excites us.
If you're in the midst of an acute crisis, I hope you'll find some rest and peace today. But if you're in a position to come forward, today could be the Holy Spirit's loving nudge.
On Monday right before midnight EDT there was a Libra new moon, closing out an emotionally exhausting previous month.
I’ve been weighing what to share about the Libra new moon, because the air signs challenge our objectivity. And each time I typed a sentence about an aspect in the new moon chart, I saw my own perspective creep in. Libra helps us build a bridge of respect and rapport with each other. It challenges us to see different sides. And so I typed and then erased so many words these last two days. I just wasn’t sure they were universal enough. I didn’t know what would help.
I can use more Libra energy. I naturally have tons of the opposite energy in my chart. I’m oriented to Aries action, independence and crisis. I can drive myself and the people around me a little bit too hard.
The past couple of days I’ve noticed civility and humor creep in: Someone opening a door for me, students calling me Mrs. Jones, a little boy karate chopping the air in my direction as he and his Mom cross in front of my car – just in case. Simple signs of interaction, drawing me out of my own head. I needed these after a Virgo month of scrupulous introspection, of trying to do things just-right. I feel some Libra ease set in. Amy, you can breathe.
But that’s just me, and this month that’s really the point. The air signs represent open-mindedness. And so I don’t know the ways that you can get stuck, too, but this month offers an invitation to balance. This month is a chance to challenge patterns of thought, speech, and relating. Can we carry the mutable – changing – quality of Virgo forward and add in the cardinal new start? How would it heal us to begin again?
This month isn’t entirely comfortable. Because Venus, the ruler of Libra, is now retrograde in Scorpio, the past informs this cycle, as does the mysterious, the psychologically powerful and complex. In this cycle we try to find the outer expression that reflects our honest inner selves right now, allowing that we’re a complicated stew of paradox. And so any practice that helps us make peace with ourselves can keep us from being too explosive and reactive. We’re working some things out. And Venus’s square to Mars symbolizes that we’ll be compelled to act. But it takes some effort not to act on auto-pilot, driven by past trauma or rejection.
In Sweden last week a little girl pulled a pre-Viking era sword from a lake. I wish that image were just tremendous, but it’s complicated, too. This month reminds us to enter those murky waters, but carefully. We can become the best or the worst of what we’ve seen and experienced.
There’s so much more to say, but this month I have to remind myself that I don’t have to be the one to say it. I’m working on listening, too.