Thinking Big: Mercury in Sagittarius

Mercury is entering Sagittarius today for the second time this year. The first time Mercury was in Sagittarius, October 31 – December 1st, it got stopped in its tracks by a retrograde period. (See Mercury retrograde post.)

We’re still in the Mercury retrograde shadow period, which will end on December 24th. So until then, Sagittarian optimism and joy may be a little slow-going. We may have to process a bit to get there. It might not be automatic. Some ruminating energy still shadows our ability to wish big. That can be a good thing, slowing us down enough to wish for the right things – the things that will really serve our highest nature and not just be a quick distraction.

Take advantage of this post-shadow period to spend a few minutes each day tuning within -- or simply remembering the times in your life when you felt an excited connection to your purpose. Now is a good time for us to recognize where we are on our life paths and make some sense of it all. What fits? What doesn’t? After the deep, feeling phase of Scorpio, Sagittarius adds spark and fire to our mindset, and maybe some impatience. Sit with that, too. The divine unrest of Sagittarius can be a teacher. Examine it somehow – with a loved one, in a journal, or in some other way that allows you to be safely and brutally honest.

In some way we may have become stuck. Mercury is connected to flexibility – in thought, speech, and physical movement. And Sagittarius is related to exploration. This time can help us recognize the freedom and abundance of our current situation or point the way to something better. So even if the time is frustrating, try to stay interested in what’s unraveling. And if it helps, try to picture the sound of your own name with a Sagittarian twist: Loud and exaggerated, jovial and free, infused with possibility.

Mercury stations direct

Screenshot_20181205-141351_Gmail.jpg

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.

 

 

 

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


Venus in Scorpio, intentionally

VENUS IN SCORPIO.png

As Venus transits through Scorpio we see beneath masks or distortions in our relationships. Between the Libran “I can make you happy if I just...” to the Sagittarian “This’ll work out great if I just believe” lies penetrating Scorpio. If we’ve been bending over backwards too much for other people, Venus in Scorpio will give us an edge. Enough. The Scorpion’s tail isn’t cruel. It’s a matter of self-protection so we don’t overinvest ourselves in relationships that don’t meet the Venus test: Do we really feel connected? Does this person look out for my well-being, too?

Of course, it can go the other way. Venus in Scorpio can be a wake-up call between Libran too-socially-overextended and Sagittarian too blunt and direct. If we haven’t been considerate enough in a relationship, Venus in Scoprio can make us aware of someone’s hurt feelings. It slows us down to see what’s been bubbling beneath the surface. It can help us strategize so we’re more careful next time. How about I not look at my phone the whole time we’re together or blurt out that thing you might want to keep private? If we’re really all in, maybe it’s time to change some of our behaviors.

As Venus transits through Scorpio, pay attention to vibes & feelings. Don’t just brush them off. Explore them in art, explore them with people you trust. But don’t bury them. Pluto in Capricorn just won’t have it. It’s time to get more real.

Water signs are associated with greater intuition & compassion. Fixed signs symbolize strength & staying power. Just remember to give some Venus in Scorpio love to yourself while you're at it, Beautiful. Enter the stillness & depth to see your own magic & become a better friend to you, too.

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.

The first quarter moon and an emotional crisis

test answers.png

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.

 

 

 

 

 

1988 and today's grand trine: Saturn and Uranus as friends

Me, second from right, in 1988, with a favorite teacher, Mrs. Stein, and two best friends who went on to different middle schools.

Me, second from right, in 1988, with a favorite teacher, Mrs. Stein, and two best friends who went on to different middle schools.

Today there’s a grand trine in the sky between the sun in Virgo, Saturn in Capricorn, and Uranus in Taurus. A grand trine is a supportive, harmonious aspect. In a chart it looks like a triangle. Because the trine is in earth, we can also look at it as especially stabilizing or enduring.  

Saturn and Uranus joined together three times in 1988, and that can be considered the beginning of a Saturn/Uranus cycle: The relationship between our productive, mature, and disciplined self and our innovative, rebellious, and free self. Think of the most buttoned-up person you know and the most zany, and imagine inviting them to dinner – just the three of you. In 1988 instead of for dinner, symbolically those two energies came together inside us, like siblings forced to sit together after an argument. Whether we were born with stronger Saturn energies in our chart or stronger Uranian, that year they became equals and had to learn to work together.

So how’s that been going for you?

It’s easier for me to make friends with Saturn. I have long-lasting relationships. I tend to show up when I’m needed. I can finish what I start. Uranus is harder for me. I do it, but bracingly. Every time I write about astrology – which is Uranian – I’m afraid of being shunned. I start to imagine someone rolling her eyes or unfriending me. I don’t want to be too weird or too forceful.

1988 for me was the end of grammar school and the beginning of middle school: The excitement of moving forward, the fear of not fitting in. Missing close friends who wouldn’t be joining me. It all felt very dramatic. We’d write each other over-the-top letters proclaiming our devotion and sadness. But it was also fun: My middle school could be out of control. I remember kids standing on tables, dancing. It reminded me of scenes from Fame. More unsettling were the epic fights after school. I was a bus kid, so I never stayed to see them, but I saw and heard the lead-ups and recaps: Time-tested rituals of taking off earrings or pulling back hair; the next-day black eye or fat lip. The adults, for the most part, were ineffectual. I couldn’t believe this was possible for a school. Saturn, meet Uranus.

Do you remember what was happening for you?

This year Lyndon starts middle school, and I’m hoping that in the spirit of today’s grand trine, Saturn and Uranus come together in a safer, more supportive, less shocking way for him. My middle school would have blown his mind. Thirty years later, it still blows mine.  

But did I really learn the lesson? In many ways I’m still the Saturn kid watching someone else dance or someone else fight.

How about you? Are you still sitting closer to Saturn or Uranus? What goes through your mind when they speak?

Today I’ll bring Uranus more into the balance: Taking an action for social change and one for personal freedom. In honor of my middle school friends, I’ll try to have a little more moxie, starting with yet another Astrology post.

You may feel the need to hear Saturn instead: To structure, plan or complete something.

Wherever you are I hope you can see both Saturn and Uranus as friends, with you and with each other.