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.

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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 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.


Saturn stations direct: When it's hard to get to work

Mercury entered Virgo last night and this morning I found myself just a little bit more distracted – by the Tostitos I ate last night, the moth flying around my head, Lang’s conversation upstairs with Google Home, punctuated by beeps. “Google, set the alarm for 6 a.m.” Beep. “OK.” Beep. “Thank you.” Beep. “I’m here to help.”

It’s a little hard to quiet my critical mind. “Why DID you eat all those Tostitos?” “There go my wool sweaters.” “Why does he have to have such long conversations with a gadget?”

The pace may be picking up around us – our schedule, responsibilities – or at least calling for more structure after the summer. Saturn stations direct this morning after five months of retrograde motion. We could be feeling antsy to get something going that’s important to us. But we probably don’t live alone in a cave. So our own agenda can come right up against some outside circumstance or some other person. How do we adjust but still honor that inner boss?

The moon enters Leo this morning at 9:54 and a critical inner voice could combine with a fiery mood. Try to remember that you do have time and options, and we’re all somehow in the same boat. You could help someone who’s overly stressed. You could bring a creative solution to someone who’s stuck, even if that person is you.

Try not to only see the task you’re attempting. Mercury in Virgo can show us the annoyances but it can also show us the helpers. This morning I couldn’t immediately tell the difference. Now, after some effort, I can.

When you can see what you really need to do: Gemini moon square Virgo sun

The moon is in the mutable air sign of Gemini and the sun is in the mutable earth sign of Virgo. At 10:37 p.m. EDT they’ll square each other. A square is a tense aspect that can prod us to resolution.

A Gemini moon can represent a mood of distraction – jumping from one thing to another, the eternal child or student never maturing or taking the reins to teach. That’s not a knock on Geminis. That’s an energy we all have inside us, represented by today’s Gemini moon. If we’ve been avoiding a commitment that would actually be good for us, that’s the tension in today’s sky: Hey, focus. It doesn’t mean we won’t have other options. It just means it’s time to come forward in one specific way. In a sense we’re trading some freedom for some agency, picking what’s more important to us.

Virgo can represent that part of us that always finds something the matter. It can also be the part of us that takes on a subservient role. It feels good to solve a problem or help someone. But taken to an extreme, Virgo can become invisible, either because we don’t think we measure up or because we think someone else’s needs are more important than ours.

Gemini and Virgo can collude: Don’t come forward in this one way because someone else can do it better. Or keep doing this hard thing for someone who doesn’t appreciate it because that’s easier than speaking up. Make sure you really worry.

If we resemble those statements, the tension in the sky could nag us today. It’s time to let some of that go.

The blessing of the mutable signs is that they remind us that nothing is permanent. Time is fluid and so are we. If we’ve been stuck in a way of thinking or behaving, today can remind us that there’s more to explore. We all have resources. We have options and skills. We're surrounded by creative solutions.

Gemini and Virgo are both ruled by Mercury, the planet of noticing and sharing, by our words or by what we do.

Today our restlessness can reveal what needs adjustment. The quarter moon forces some resolution of last month’s Leo new moon. We had something to say and do then, that might not have been obvious to us yet. Today it can come to us in a whisper or a shout.

Goodbye for now to the Leo sun

"A man eats on a bench" : New York Historical Society, Getty images

"A man eats on a bench" : New York Historical Society, Getty images

The sun will change signs from Leo to Virgo tonight just after midnight EDT. The personal drive shifts from who am I to what can I do?

Hopefully we’ve gotten a healthy glimpse of our own worthiness. Hopefully we’ve followed the instinct or intentionally opted to create, play, take up some space, and love. One day this month while Lyndon was away, Lang and I went to the beach instead of the supermarket, and that was a middle-aged Leo victory for us. We chose fun. Another night we double-dated with my parents. My Mom stage-whispered inappropriate comments into my ear to make me laugh like she used to by dancing in public. Those Leo moments were perfect. I wanted to freeze them in time.

Others were harder, as I struggled to know who I was and what I wanted to say. I felt an inner drive for impact – am I making the most of my talents, my life or this summer? I could sense more power but I didn’t always know how to direct it. Is it enough to just sit here and notice how great Lang is – or my mail deliverer, or that celebrity, or the lady who talked to me on the F train last night – and how great I am, too?

I think it can be. I think some of Leo homework is to let that sink in: a compliment, joy – being impressed or satisfied: The lion, confident and at rest. But after a long day at the beach we can get a little tired of the sun.

So on this last Leo day, fill up your cup somehow. Relish a moment or another being. Take stock of what’s great about you.

Tomorrow, even if you've needed or loved this Leo time of being, start to see what you're ready to do.

Where has Mercury taken you?

Tonight/tomorrow at 12:24 EDT Mercury stations direct at 11°31’ Leo, the second of three Mercury retrogrades this year. I was searching for an image of Mercury, and Freddie Mercury kept turning up. For vocal, playful Mercury in regal, dramatic Leo I thought, Why not?

Donna Cunningham writes about Mercury, “Mercury stands between Venus and the Sun in our solar system, and Mercury (communication) is the bridge between our inner selves (Sun) and other people we want to share with (Venus). Mercury always stays close to the Sun in the zodiac—it is rarely more than 27° from the Sun in our charts and is most often in the same sign and house as the Sun. However, if our thoughts are too wrapped up in ourselves, we create a barrier instead of a bridge.”

Mercury the metal is fluid: It’s the only metal to remain liquid at room temperature.  Mercury the Roman god is the god of merchants, travelers and transporters of goods, and thieves and tricksters. He’s considered a boundary-keeper and bridge between upper and lower worlds, guiding souls between the two. Mercury is also associated with learning, information, siblings, and youth.

The periods during the year when Mercury goes retrograde, seeming to slow down and go backwards from our point of view, are times to be more fluid ourselves but also more deep. What do we need to retrieve that’s been lost in the day-to-day busy-ness? How have we been tricked or tricked ourselves and others? What is it we’re really meant to carry and communicate and to whom?

From March 22nd through April 15th Mercury traveled retrograde from 16°54’ to 4°46’ Aries, the first sign of the zodiac and the sign of cardinal fire. From July 26th until August 19th it traveled between 23°27’ and 11°31’ Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac and the sign of fixed fire. From November 16th to December 6th it will travel between 13°29’ Sagittarius and 27°16’ Scorpio, moving between the 9th sign of mutable fire to the eighth of fixed water. (Dates are for EDT.)

It’s tempting to dread retrograde periods. They’re correlated with things just going wrong. We have to be more flexible than we want to while feeling more stuck than we’re used to. My birthday is happening during the last retrograde of the year, and my first reaction was, “Oh crap.” A year of Mercury retrograde in my solar return or birthday chart. Wonderful.

But what if we look at retrogrades unfolding over time? In this year alone the retrograde periods all start in fire, the element of action and creative inspiration. Of course the last thing fire signs want is to be slowed down, so retrograde periods feel frustrating. But the benefit of slowing down fire is to aim it more intentionally, to go forward more truthfully.

This retrograde period we’ve seen in the news cycle the symbolism of Leo and Mercury in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury findings about the Catholic Church. For over 70 years leaders of the Church covered up the sexual abuse of children, shifting powerful abusers to different locations and perpetuating crime and suffering. In the U.S. the special counsel probe is trying to uncover the extent of Russian influence on the 2016 election, following methods of communication and exchanges of money for clues. In both cases a slow-down and reset button is better than moving forward without reflection and bringing the truth to light. Both of these cases have gotten people enraged, fired up, but also incredibly sad, especially if the Catholic Church or the U.S. reflects a part of our identity. Where do we go from here?

For many of us, these stories are personal, and they may be propelling us to an action or change. But after we look at the world we’re a part of, what if we look even deeper into our own lives?

Where do the three retrograde periods fall in your chart? What creative spark has been born, strengthened, and now needs to expand before it can find more of a fixed course? How have redirections in your life this year moved you closer to really connecting with your true self and with others? Were there avenues you explored that turned out to be the wrong ones? Can you let them go as mirages or mistakes?

We’ve all been victims of Leo ego and power dynamics at the hands of others and this Mercury in Leo time can help us see and heal that. But if we’re human and honest we’ve probably been on both sides. It would be a missed opportunity if we just noticed the news or other people’s missteps during retrograde periods. Mercury in Leo can also reveal the times when we’ve been blowhards, abused our power, been attached to our own hurt feelings and pride. This retrograde period has made me really appreciate the people who’ve forgiven me, who saw I could do better, who didn’t let my worst behavior define me. And it helped me see who guided me through dark, dark places, keeping the shining the light for me until I could finally hold it myself.

Wishing you revelations of creativity, power, protection, play, performance, worth, truth, and love on this final day of retrograde.

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Cunningham, Donna. An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness. Moon Maven Publications, 2005.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/pollutants/mercury-environment/about/chemical-properties.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mercury-Roman-god

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(mythology)

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/catholic-priests-pennsylvania-church-jury.html

 

Mercury Retrograde and Speaking from a Broken Heart

Probably most of you know that Mercury is retrograde. Your cable may have gone out, your phone or computer may be on the fritz, one of your tires may have spontaneously gone its own way on the highway…. Many of us have the 19th at around midnight EDT etched on our calendars or in our brains as a finish line we’re hobbling toward, when Mercury will station direct and we can use our appliances smoothly again. If anything in life just flows, to some extent that’s Mercury: the fleet-footed Messenger of the gods, ruling the exchange of information and the versatility of our thoughts, words, and mindset. Retrograde periods will test our flexibility. Are we on auto-pilot? Is there something we’ve failed to see or say?

Mercury is in the sign of Leo now – the Child, the Lion, the King or Queen. Leo rules the sun and the heart, the symbols of our essence and life force. Leo reminds us of our dignity and our vulnerability too. The sign of fixed fire, when it is unhealthy or perverted from its positive expression, Leo overwhelms and annihilates.

Yesterday we learned that the Catholic Church covered up the abuse of over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania.

And I feel the need to say it, because I’m Catholic, and I work at a Catholic school, and my heart is broken. The Church that has been a source of joy and inspiration for me has also always tested my inner barometer of fairness: Why were only boys allowed to be altar servers? Why were only men allowed to be priests? Why were divorced or Gay Catholics made to feel less-than? These questions kept Lang and me from baptizing our own son into the Church, even as the Church made some forward progress. There were female altar servers at our wedding, wearing headbands and trendy shoes. And of course, now there’s Pope Francis, humble, joyful, wise, and prayerful, bringing so many of us hope.

I don’t know how to process the horror and scale of the abuse that these priests perpetrated and the hierarchy covered up. But I do feel the need to denounce it, on behalf of the truly good Catholics who have raised me and continue to inspire me every day at work, and on behalf of the victims and their families. You deserved to be safe. You were violated in unimaginable, unspeakable ways. I’m on your side, and I’m so, so sorry.

Six planets are retrograde now, reflecting our need to go back before we can go forward, to redo, retrieve or repair what is outmoded, broken, or in contrast to our highest expression and calling. With three of these planets now in Capricorn, some of that will be our own history and traditions. In the rituals of Mass I first learned how to reflect, speak to, and merge with a God who loves me. In the company of truly good and holy Catholics I first learned how to see and celebrate the divine in others. And still… I need to scream from the highest mountain that what happened to these children was not, was never, will never be OK.

Before the 19th, see if you can look at or say something hard too, because your dignity matters or because someone else’s does. Discover a different way you’re being called to lead or to love.