Mercury conjunct Mars and my fight at the gym

Mercury and Mars came together yesterday for the second time since June. I had a fight with a guy in the gym. 

I finally had reached my annoyance threshold with this guy making loud noises while he punches and runs on the treadmill. When I asked him to stop making loud noises, he jumped off his machine, ran at me, and screamed in my face, “This is not a mother__ church! This is a GYM!” We all have different expectations of gyms, perhaps. His might be one that lets him get out all of his aggression however he wants to. Mine is a safe space for me to get fit; I deliberately chose a gym with a tagline of “No lunkheads.” Our ideas were in conflict with each other and sparked a confrontation. The management decided that his behavior crossed the line and asked him to leave. Fellow gymgoers thanked me and co-signed the incident report. I was nervous and shaky all night. 

I imagine most of us don’t find confrontations fun. Confrontations basically suck. We avoid them, unless maybe we’re in our cars or online. But what happens to unexpressed anger? What happens to stifled passion? 

Mercury and Mars will meet again in the earth sign Virgo on September 3rd, on the same degree as the sun. One interpretation is the combining of our voice and action in practical, useful ways that express the essence of who we are. That’s some assignment. The closest we’ve come recently was July 2000, when the Mercury/Mars conjunction was just a degree away from the sun. In Cancer, that correlated with building a safe, healthy, and loving emotional core, home, and family. What have been the fruits of your learning and efforts in those areas for the past 19 years? How have you come to embody and express home, healing, kindness, and family? When have you had to protect or defend the vulnerable? 

Mercury in retrograde now returning to the sign of Cancer gives us a chance to reflect on those principles and readjust if we need to.  If we’re exhausted from some effort or fight, what nourishment can we reach toward? How can we mentally recuperate? This Mercury retrograde (July 7-July 31 EDT) can be challenging because we’re compelled to move ahead in sustained action while our processing and communication functions seem slower. But how could it help our actions to process information at a more deliberate pace and weigh our words more carefully? 

We can probably all benefit from reexamining our usual approach to confrontation. I might have been brave at the gym, but I also might have put myself in unnecessary danger -- a Mars pattern of mine that stresses the heck out of everyone around me. How can I have smarter confrontations? I was annoyed by that guy, but I was probably also triggered by years of unexpressed resentment over aggressive male behavior that built up over time: From manspreading to catcalling, I’d had enough.

If you’ve had a recent conflict -- inner or outer -- have you started to process the lesson?

This Mercury retrograde and the period leading up to September 3rd I’ll be mulling this over: In the joining of the sun, Mars, and Mercury, do all three planets usually have equal say or does one tend to dominate? How can they learn to cooperate? 

We’re never stuck in one expression. If you find yourself frustrated while Mercury is in retrograde, consider it a challenge you’re up for.

But maybe be a little more thoughtful and careful than I was at the gym. Come September, you’ve got an important job to do.


Venus conjunct Saturn and the Super Full Virgo Moon

 
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/27/us-explorer-colin-obrady-completes-first-unaided-solo-traverse-of-antarctica

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/27/us-explorer-colin-obrady-completes-first-unaided-solo-traverse-of-antarctica

 

At 5:15 a.m. EST Venus and Saturn came together in Capricorn, for the first time since Christmas day 2017.

Saturn brings up themes of difficulty/mastery, loneliness/solitude, aging/wisdom, pessimism/realism, limits/a need for careful planning. Venus is associated with love and connection, but also with taking things a little too calmly or compromising too much for a sense of peace.

Saturn can feel harder. But if you’ve ever stuck with something difficult and come away with a lesson or a method worth sharing, that’s positive Saturn. For Saturn in Capricorn I’ve been thinking about Colin O’Brady, the first person to cross Antarctica alone. He called it “The Impossible First.” Lugging over 300 pounds of equipment and faced with whiteout conditions for almost the whole trip, he cried a lot while he was doing it; he said his tears immediately froze on his face. But he just kept going. He had planned, he had trained, and in 54 days he accomplished his goal.

Saturn stories are inspiring: We overcome the impossible with sheer grit and mature steadiness. At least it looks like that from the outside. On the inside we’re more like Colin O’Brady during the actual trek: Almost defeated, unable to see the end or even the next step.

Venus coming to Saturn represents an easing of what’s been hard or limiting for us personally and a call to befriend ourselves anew, from an adult place that honors all of our experiences up to this point. But it’s also a reminder to ally with those who are still limited or suffering, taking us out of isolation to notice who or what has helped us or to notice who or what can use our help.

Tomorrow’s full moon in Virgo is a Super Full Moon. It’ll look bigger and brighter because it’s closer to the earth. The mutable nature of the full moon reminds us of the way life keeps flowing and changing and so do we. And so I hope we can find ways to forgive our failings and to dream as we keep showing up -- human and superhuman, through tears and incredible feats.


Exploring Lyndon's and my progressed moon

Student+art+in+Terezin+ghetto+Prague.jpg

I’ve been feeling guilty that I haven’t been writing as much. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to. I’ve just been more reserved. I’m wondering how much this instinct to become more private is connected with my progressed moon having recently entered Scorpio. The progressed moon symbolizes our evolving emotional needs and states, and its 2¼-year length is helpful to explore in terms of significant emotional phases throughout our lives.

When my moon progressed into airy Libra I started writing and communicating more in general. I wrote and shared more about relationships – strategies for connecting and finding common ground. I felt compelled to check in. My counseling practice picked up. Even through a divisive presidential election I tried to show respect to people with differing opinions – a huge stretch for a Sagittarius. I was learning to be more considerate.

My moon progressed to Scorpio this summer while I was on a Holocaust Remembrance Trip in Europe with my family. I haven’t written much about the trip because there’s so much to unpack psychologically, and at the same time I’m aware that what I saw and felt over two weeks pales in comparison to what millions of people lived through. In the Jewish Museum of Prague I photographed these children’s drawings from the 1940s. Their teacher, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, held secret therapeutic art classes in the Terezín ghetto, determined to connect the children to beauty and inspiration even as their lives got more restricted and terrifying. Eventually Dicker-Brandeis was sent to and killed at Auschwitz. I still think about her, trying to understand the evil that she was up against, wondering how I also can be an instrument of love and hope even in darkness. And it’s not always clear to me. It’s just a question. Sometimes the darkness is so potent.

I’ve become more aware of these kinds of difficult truths – how life can be unfair or cruel. And I think it’s giving me more empathy. Fellow water signs Cancer and Pisces are more often touted for their compassion and ability to love. But I’m starting to believe that Scorpio doesn’t get enough credit. With its penetrating ability to plumb the murky and intense, I wonder if the fixed water energy of Scorpio is partly about finding the strength to continue to love and empathize even when it would be tempting to shut out or shut down. Developing the right protections to carry a sensitive soul, like Cancer, renewing in dreamy darkness, like Pisces, but with the reliability of fellow fixed signs Taurus and Leo: You can depend on me. I’m not going away.

Somehow progressed moon signs or phases kick in when we need them to, when we are ready or when life is ready for us to express a new quality. Right before my moon progressed to watery Scorpio, Lyndon’s moon progressed to fiery Aries. Lyndon’s rising to the challenges of his new middle school: changing classes for the first time, meeting new friends, taking responsibility for his homework and grades. I see a decisiveness that wasn’t there when his progressed moon was in Pisces. Then he was more likely to be swayed by what other people said or just to try to blend in and not make waves. Now he’s speaking up with a budding confidence. I have to check myself when he’s a little harsh with me: Do I point it out to him or let him practice this new voice until he gets the right balance? Aries and Scorpio make an uncomfortable aspect to each other – a quincunx – and the two of us try our best to adjust to each other these days. We both can be a little too spiky. In some ways Lyndon is over-confident: He fervently debates that he’s old enough to take two subways and walk a mile by himself to get home from school every day. I counter that parents have a sense in their guts about what’s safe for their children. He doesn’t buy it. But I need to honor my strong intuition, too. He’s 11. It was only last year that he was the spacey kid who got a pencil stuck in his forehead. (For the full story, see my Parenting with Astrology webinar.) So I send him for smaller trips alone and see how he does. I defer when he tells me he’s too old this year to take a Christmas card photo. That’s a hard one for me. But I have to make sure I don’t come off as too authoritarian while he’s learning an Aries sense of his own power.

If I didn’t practice astrology, I could still find a language for what Lyndon is experiencing through developmental stages. And thank God there are so many ways for us to figure out meaning and next steps. But the progressed moon is a simple tool that helps me on a daily basis to understand emotional landscape and phases and cut myself and my family more slack.

I have two more years in Scorpio territory, and I don’t know what that will mean for me as a mother or wife, artist or astrologer, woman or simply a human. The progressed moon in Scorpio merges two symbols of mystery. And so I’m very much exploring right now. The clients who have come for readings lately seem to want to sit in deep space together. I love that. Yet I also feel socially awkward navigating this depth in other settings. What’s appropriate to share and with whom? I’m not always sure. Part of Scorpio is discerning between privacy that feels good or right and privacy that just reinforces a sense of shame.

Both Aries and Scorpio can be powerful, passionate and extreme. They’re both ruled by Mars – the red planet and God of war. And so for the next two years Lyndon and I might not always be so comfortable to be around. We might have to push back in situations we last year would have tolerated. We might have to tell harsh or awkward truths, to each other and to the outside world. In some ways that’s exciting, and I’m happy to be aligned with my child in this way. I have an Aries moon natally and I’m curious to see those energies reflected in Lyndon for the next two years. What will I admire? What will I see that I don’t like? What might I be able to help him understand? How will seeing Aries in Lyndon help me embrace untapped courage and leadership, too?

In two days transiting Mars will enter Aries; it’ll stay in Aries until Valentine’s Day. For Lyndon and me, this will ramp up the intensity and focus of our progressed moons. For all of us in some area, the symbols represent willpower and desire, boundaries and bravery. Pay attention to any unrest or passion, aggression, excitement, or fear you notice, either around you or within you. The next two months will be rife with opportunities to act and react – to challenge our natural patterns and try ways that feel more aligned with who we are right now.

I hope for me that means challenging myself to shed some of the shell I’ve been fortifying myself under – or at least exchanging it for a larger one that leaves space for more company. And so if you’d like to explore your progressed moon or your child’s, please reach out to me. The moon is a symbol of life’s natural phases of growth and renewal. It rules parenting and childhood, our inner life and creativity and our ability to recover and heal. It reveals the most tender parts of us. It can be an act of love to ourselves just to sit in that space, alone or with another: to feel, to wonder, to marvel – at where we’ve been, who we are and who we’re still becoming.

A story for the Festival of Lights and the balsamic Scorpio moon

"I have no answers, but I have a lot of questions, and those questions have helped me live better than any answers I might find."
- Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, interviewed in this episode of "On Being" with Krista Tippett.

Dr. Remen's lifelong struggle with Crohn's disease has shaped her work as a doctor. She says it's important to remember that even when you don't have the ability to cure, you can always heal. Her grandfather, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi whom she lovingly refers to as a "flaming mystic", told her this story as a gift for her 4th birthday:

"This is the story of the birthday of the world. In the beginning, there was only the holy darkness, the Ein Sof. The source of life. And then, in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world, the world of a thousand, thousand things emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. And then... there was an accident. And the vessels containing the light of the world, the wholeness of the world -- broke. And the light of the world, the wholeness of the world, was scattered into a thousand, thousand fragments of light. And they fell into all events and all people, where they remain deeply hidden until this very day. According to my grandfather, the whole human race is a response to this accident. We are here because we are born with the capacity to find the hidden light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again. And thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. It's a very important story for our time, that we heal the word one heart at a time. This task is called tikkun olam in Hebrew: the restoration the world."

"...This is of course a collective task. It involves all people who have ever been born, all people presently living, all people yet to be born: We are all healers of the world. And that story opens a sense of possibility. It's not about healing the world by making a huge difference. It's about healing the world that touches you. That's around you. And that's where our power is.... I think we all feel that we're not enough to make a difference, that we have to be more somehow, either wealthier or more educated, or somehow or other different from the people we are. And according to this story, we're exactly what's needed And to just wonder about that a little. What if we were exactly what's needed? What then? How would I live if I'm exactly what's needed to heal the world?" (It's worth hearing her tell the story herself, at about 4.44.)

And finally, wisdom for today's balsamic Scorpio moon, combining themes of letting go, loss, going deeply into dark spaces, and powerfully, lovingly transforming: "The fact is that life is full of losses and disappointments. And the art of living is to make of them something that can nourish others. And it's taken me a long time to find the recipe that's mine... but I had a sense of what might be possible and that I needed to look to find the way for myself."

https://www.wnyc.org/story/rachel-naomi-remen--the-difference-between-fixing-and-healing

Going forward too during Venus retrograde

Venus retrograde Scorpio.png

Venus has been retrograde in Scorpio since October 5th. Venus retrogrades in a sign every eight years. Venus retrograde periods are opportunities to achieve greater ease within and a greater connection to others by turning our attention inwardly and by revisiting the past. Venus symbolizes our ability to recognize and reflect beauty, peace, and love; Scorpio allows us to penetrate the truth and unlock a power that’s been dormant or repressed.

What energies have your relationships recently been reflecting back to you? Which themes from the past have resurfaced? How have your interactions revealed unconscious patterns or shown you your own transformation over time?

The Capricorn moon joined the same degree as Pluto this morning, connecting our emotional state to this Venus retrograde period. It can feel heavy and deep. And yet today’s first quarter moon symbolically also compels us forward.

If you’d like, at some point today reflect on how you’ve been changing and why. Maybe the dates from the past 8 Venus in Scorpio retrograde cycles will help you; maybe something else you come across will. Love and relationships are so complex; we awkwardly but so sincerely attempt this dance of truly being seen. Give yourself some credit and some time.

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.

Moon opposite Pluto and the power of projection

Last night I had a dream I was about to play Monica Seles in a tournament match.

In the dream I didn’t have any special abilities. I knew it was ridiculous to go up against Monica Seles. I probably haven’t played tennis since fifth grade. Still I wanted to help her, because she needed this match for her standings. I knew she and I shared a birthday, so I thought, “I guess by playing I can help a fellow Sadge move ahead.” 

I didn’t have much time, so I prepared for the match by buying the right clothes. It might have been more useful to work on my serve or to stretch. I knew she would destroy me on the court. But I at least wanted to look the part. 

Accommodating, helping, sharing. Appearances, the question of an equal match. My dream was filled with Libran themes.

I woke up before I got to the stadium.

Today the moon enters the last quarter phase. Steven Forrest refers to "cathartic theater and the inner journey of the solitary artist" of this phase. In my dream I was about to face a powerful opponent who was sure to win. But she also has my birthday. On some level I was facing myself. 

Jumping in when it's not really appropriate or before I'm really ready to; over- or underestimating myself; deferring so someone else can win. I do these things sometimes, but do I still have to or want to? How often do habit or duty play a role in my decision-making? And what does it really matter what I look like??? 

Throughout this Virgo new moon cycle, the details and tasks that come up and the ways we're recruited to help or serve reveal to us the unfolding self that fits right now. It's a process of adjustment. It takes discernment. We get messages telling us how we’re doing, and we sift through them the best that we can. We weigh them with what we notice, and what feels safe and right for us, too. 

Who have been the major players in your life recently? What have been the major themes? Are there relationship or behavior patterns you've recognized? What have your dreams or intuition been telling you?

If a powerful image or interaction also gets your attention or elicits a strong emotional reaction, it might help to explore it from different angles or talk it through with someone you trust. It could have a helpful message that takes some time and attention to unpack.

Today's Cancer moon represents secure bonds and deep emotional safety needs. Show up for people how you can and when you're ready, but if you're someone who always thinks about other people, maybe give yourself some kindness, care, and love today, too.