Five of my Favorite Ways to Use Astrology as a Mom

I became interested in astrology because I wanted to understand myself and the people I love in a deeper way. But when life and relationships get messy and complicated, it can still be a challenge to stay curious and connected. I remember a harried moment 15 years ago, when I didn't get this right. Two days before my wedding, my Mom and I couldn't come to common ground on priorities. I was overwhelmed by the amount of work left to be done, and my Mom pointed out one detail I had missed: The aisle runner. She really thought we should stop arranging centerpieces and run to the store to buy a white aisle runner. She said it would complete the look. I didn't think it mattered. I wanted her help with the flowers. We squabbled for a while until I finally barked, "Stop being such a damn Virgo!"

That was, clearly, a failure to relate. My Mom stormed off and I still wish I hadn't said that. It ended well, and she was right: The aisle runner was a beautiful detail. But for hours that day we both stewed, alone and furious. I never found the words to express my stress and vulnerability, and I can only imagine how hurt and unappreciated she felt.

Now that I'm a wife and a mom, the stakes for getting these interactions right are even higher. How do we share the same space and keep growing into ourselves and into a family?

I'm happy that astrology is becoming more popular. But if it only serves to reduce our loved ones to fixed stereotypes - - like my bridezilla outburst with my Mom - - that's a missed opportunity at best and an intimacy-crusher at worst.

I don't handle my family gracefully every time. I get tired and hangry. But I do try to be vigilant and careful as I practice astrology. Certain methods have especially helped. Here are five of my favorite ways to use astrology as a Mom:

1. The Birth Chart
Rather than looking at a child's chart deterministically, I encourage parents to focus on a few key features that will help you love on your baby right now. Today. Maybe your child will become a doctor or an astronaut. But maybe it will help you both get through this moment or this year just knowing that communication soothes her - - or action, or solitude. If you enjoy integrating a lot of information, then dive right in. But during my most frustrating moments, what's helped me with Lyndon is just to pull up his chart and find a key that I've been missing. You always will. And it will help you support your child with a specific action. What they can't communicate to us directly we can find in their charts, so that we can better behold and help them. But try not to assume. Let it just soften your heart and start a conversation. Integrate what you see in the chart with your intuition and observations. Check in with your child.

2. Their Birth Chart as a Transit in Your Life
The word planet comes from the Greek word for "wanderer." As the planets wander through the constellations at different speeds, at any moment a snapshot of the sky or transit chart freezes the planets in time, symbolizing our inner and outer experience. Most moments come and go without particular significance. But the moment of our child's birth is extremely significant. And so our children's charts can represent life lessons that are not only crucial for them to learn but for us to keep learning, too. Understanding that can keep us from projecting negatively. If I constantly think of my child as an insert judgy adjective, insert astrological sign, that keeps me from my homework of allowing some of that energy to transform ME for the better. And if I reject a certain energy in my child, that builds a wall between us. So I encourage the practice of remembering the moment of your child's birth - - the joys, the challenges, the lessons. As an imaginative exercise it can help you appreciate the preciousness of that moment for you in a fuller way and empathize with some of the inner and outer tensions your child might regularly face. You've been there. You can help. And as your child grows into herself, she'll become more of a model for you in those ways, so you can be continually inspired.

3. Daily Transits
Transits are fun to track because they represent a shared experience. And so if the slower-moving, outer planets are representing something especially difficult that doesn't seem to be budging or progressing, you're not the only one living through this. Your child is, too. Knowing that can help with compassion. It also can lead to great conversations. In our house most mornings we talk about the sign and aspects of the transiting moon, the fastest wanderer in the sky. What do we expect will happen? What strategies can help us? It gives us a framework for a possible mood of the day, and then we go out into the world and test our hypotheses. We share what actually happened. Or we forget and talk about something else. But it's a fun way for us to connect as a family and to remind ourselves to stay flexible, intentional, and curious.

4. and 5. The Progressed Moon: Theirs and Yours
Tracking your child's and your own progressed moon is a fairly simple way to visualize life stages in roughly 2 1/2-year increments. I love this tool as a parent because it shows me support I can give to Lyndon for the short-ish term. It can be hard to keep up parental stamina, so I'm all for the tools that can give me a boost in the moment.

Lyndon's progressed moon in Aries correlates with a budding feistiness as a middle schooler. If I didn't know astrology I would know that middle school isn't forever, and maybe that would help me get through middle school moods and pushback. But the symbolism of Lyndon's progressed moon in Aries actually helps me better understand the usefulness of conflict and boundaries in a child who's otherwise naturally peacekeeping and agreeable. It represents a need for assertion, action, and orientation to self. Within that framework, I'm less likely to engage in ego battles because I know that this is just a phase and it's a necessary part of his growth. I hope it will help him be sufficiently choosy with his peer group and keep him safe as he learns to take the subway alone for the first time.

My progressed moon gives me clues on how my phase of life can support him during his. As he navigates increasing independence, my progressed moon in Scorpio can point out ways to be safer and more strategic, more careful and resilient. We're both slightly scared. But it's also exciting to see Lyndon assume more agency while challenging myself to embrace a phase of murky transformation for both of us.

The Bottom Line
If you're interested in astrology, by all means learn it and practice. But please give yourself permission to be a student always, too. No matter how much wisdom or life experience we have, there's still so much more we don't know, and that's actually hopeful and exciting. So see how your child helps bring a new understanding of the symbols to make you a better human. And try not to let any narrow interpretation of symbols create distance between you and your loved ones. They deserve that level of both openness and discrimination.

Feed and water whatever it is that brings you and your family comfort. It doesn't have to be astrology. You have your own bag of effective tricks. But if you choose to use astrology as a parent, please do it humbly and with great care. Please protect yourself and your children from harmful or reductive messages.

That's only my very strong opinion, though. Sometimes I can be such a damn Sagittarius.

A photo memoir to usher in the Libra sun

A while ago my friend Lauren-Miranda suggested I write a photo memoir about this photo. To usher in the Libra sun, I took on the assignment, and asked my Mom if she wanted to also. We didn’t read what each other wrote until afterwards.

Different points of view, back-and-forth, mutual appreciation, and love. Not to mention balance — while mine is long and more serious, Mom’s is short and more sweet. Welcome, Libra season!

This Venus retrograde pre-shadow period is a good time for looking back and more deeply as a path to healing and peace. If you’d like to, a photo memoir can be a great tool.

Read below or as published by Motherwell magazine.

Amy Aries rising.jpg

Mom’s Take:

"There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  And when she was good, she was very, very good, and when she was bad, she was horrid":)

I like this photo.  And I loved that little red and white polka dot dress and the red, patent leather t-strap shoes.  Looking closely, you might recognize that when Amy stood up, the dress was way above her knees.  If Amy liked an outfit, she would wear it, no matter if she had clearly outgrown it.  She could not be dissuaded.
Amy looks amused here and as if she's considering something or someone; that makes me smile.  Most often, she was up and about and acting independently.  I like that she chose to sit next to me.

My face looks pensive and I imagine I may have been thinking:  "I'm relaxed now...I wonder for how long".  With 5 children to oversee, most of the time I was on duty.  But here I am, seated next to Amy, in a lounge chair.  I think this may have been taken at my Mom and Aunt Catherine's home in Port Jefferson, which was a great "resting" place.  I could sit down and even sit back and watch.  On weekends there were often so many people there... my siblings, their spouses and their children;  I may even have been having an "adult conversation".  I look intent and my head is tilted a bit to the side, in what has been described as the Alexandro "listening pose." :)

I really don't remember.  But when I see this picture, it brings me great joy.  We did it.  Despite some chaotic and even doubtful beginnings, I can see clearly now, that this "little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead" has grown up and into her identity. She is a most gifted, generous and loving human being, still amused and engaged by life and committed to living it to the fullest.

My Take:

This picture of my Mom and me is one of my favorites, and not just because she looks so badass.

Actually, that’s just my Mom’s Listening Face. She’s an intense listener – a committed one. When I was growing up, her bookshelves and nightstand had rows and stacks of communication books: Couple’s Communication, The Dance of Anger…. My siblings and I would tease her when we caught her trying a new technique. “Mom, are you ‘active listening’?” She was serious and sincere. She rarely blinked. She wanted to support and really see you.

People sought out my mother for her listening. I’d find them sitting with her on our couch or around our dining room table when I got home from school. Or I’d see my mother in the rocking chair, eyes closed, nodding, phone pressed to her ear. People showed up with problems, or sorrows, and my Mom simply listened. She might reflect your words back to you. She might check in to make sure she fully understood. But mostly, she let you speak.

When you’re a late talker it helps to have a mom who’s an excellent listener.

I didn’t learn to speak until I was about three and a half. In those days early intervention consisted of my grandfather lighting candles for me in church. People wondered if I was deaf, or slow. My Mom didn’t worry or judge me. She was just patient, in the way that mothers with multiple children learn to be patient. It’ll come. She’ll get there.

I was the fifth child, born two years after my Mom was hospitalized for post-partum depression and psychosis. Everything about my Mom welcoming me into the world was brave, including the way she gave birth. In the labor room, surrounded by the doctor, a nurse, and my Dad, she tried to convince the doctor that it was time to go to the delivery room – she could feel the baby coming -- but the doctor dismissed her. He said there was plenty of time and left the room. Immediately I started to crown. The nurse ran to get the doctor and my petrified Dad fled, too. His first children were born in the 60s, when doctors knocked women out with drugs and Dads waited in separate rooms. He didn’t think he was supposed to be there.

On the table in the labor room, my Mom delivered me herself, alone.

Until I started nursery school, I was basically attached to my Mom. She carried me longer than strangers thought she should; she always made room for me on her lap. This picture was taken before I learned to form full sentences. I’m guessing I was watching my siblings and cousins play. Even though my eyes are twinkling, my posture is protective. I wasn’t yet ready to venture out.

I was born to a Mom who was scared she wasn’t ready either, but still she made space for me. I only have one child. I’ll never understand how my Mom could have welcomed a fifth, especially when she still felt so vulnerable. And not a dainty child, either. I was born messy, pushy. I grunted. Even without words, I insisted. My Mom had to teach me to be more careful and more considerate. But she never shamed what I had to say, however I found a way to say it.

Now I’m a writer. In the dark before my family wakes up, I sit at my own dining room table and explore my deepest feelings. And then I post them on the internet. And after I do and throughout the day, I assume the same posture I had in this photo: My back arches and I wish I could hide. Why did I ever do that?!

My Mom is someone who understands phases and stages and has always clung to faith. And now when I write about the stars, I try to do the same: To honor what’s hard, or scary, or new, but universal, and also somehow meaningful and good. And I use myself as an example. But sometimes five minutes after I’ve written about a feeling or experience I’m already onto the next. So I’ll want to delete what I wrote, because having it out there makes me vulnerable. Five minutes after I post something personal, I’m usually utterly humiliated.

I imagine the doctor in the labor room telling my Mom she was wrong.

When I see this picture I understand why I keep sharing. I was born to a badass and a great listener. I was born to someone contemplative and brave. And in that terrifying act of coming forward, I bridge the small, sacred space between us: The messy, inhibited little girl and the loving, powerful woman, determined to face the truth.

The Brave and the Free: Uranus Retrograde

Uranus stationed retrograde this morning. Until January 2, 2018, Uranus will appear to move backwards from the earth, from 28°31’ Aries until it will station direct at 24°34’ Aries. The slower a planet moves, the stronger its symbolism can be felt in our lives.

Themes of courage, assertiveness, action combine with individuality and freedom. Over the next five months, ask yourself what you can do to support your own true individuality, even if it will be uncomfortable for you or others. This time is not about needless shock. But if there’s a genius or rebel inside us that we haven’t been accessing, this time will bring it out. If there are boundaries we need to set or brave ways we need to strike out, our intuition or our outer circumstances will let us know. Be attuned to anger, chaos and fear. They can be a wake-up call to try a new, better way forward. This time is about necessary shock to the status quo if we’ve hidden or compromised a crucial part of ourselves.

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The Blessing and the Wound: Jupiter Square Pluto

In the past day two people I was casually talking to spontaneously burst into tears. All of a sudden they realized how overwhelmed they were. They needed to cry it out with someone. 

On Friday, Jupiter will make a final waning square aspect to Pluto. Usually I write about the cycle between the sun and the moon, but the slower-moving planets have cycles, too. The cycle between Jupiter and Pluto occurs over a period of about 12 ½ years. The current cycle started in December 2007 and will end in the Spring of 2020.   

What does this all mean? Symbolically, Jupiter represents expansion, blessings, risk, wisdom, and the confidence to reach our potential. Pluto represents our deepest wounds and the empowerment that comes from facing a monster or walking through hell. Their conjunction in 2007 represented a melding of these themes for the next 12 years: Empowerment through risk and expansion; wisdom through truth, change, death and rebirth. But in the sign of Capricorn, it wasn’t the easiest task. This was going to take doing the right thing over time, with persistence, maturity, commitment, and maybe more solitude than we actually wanted.  

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The Scorpio Moon and Seeing the Love Around You

My alarm goes off at 7:00 this morning.

Me: I have to get up and write.

Langston: I have to get up and be within three feet of you.

With the Scorpio moon making up part of a grand trine in water today, we all have a chance to see who or what has been our Giving Tree.

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The Gemini Moon, or Now We Can All Be Joe Biden

At 8:15 a.m. E.D.T. the moon enters Gemini. At 3:44 p.m. will be the Gemini New Moon.

I’m calling this one the Joe Biden New Moon.

This week when I was pondering positive Gemini qualities – versatility, humor, fascination, youthfulness – Joe Biden memes kept creeping into my mind. Joe Biden cracking jokes, Joe Biden finding change and showing us, Joe Biden really seeing that second ice cream cone.

Joe Biden is a Scorpio, but he has two planets in Gemini – Saturn and Uranus. So he can be the elder and the awakener when it comes to the Gemini agenda. Watching Joe eat ice cream makes me really want to eat ice cream. Seeing Joe crack up makes me wish I heard the joke. His ability to interact with the moment elevates the moment and turns it into something worth seeing for the rest of us.

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Finding Stillness in Our Name: The Taurus New Moon

I hadn’t been sure what to write about Tuesday’s New Moon in Taurus. It was significantly less earthy than last year’s. Last year Venus and Mercury joined the sun and moon in Taurus, and six out of the ten major planetary bodies were in earth signs. The message had been clearer then: Return to the earth, return to the body. Communicate love and simplicity in your words and find stillness in your heart and relationships. But Tuesday’s new moon message was modified by some jittery energies: Mercury and Uranus in Aries and Mars in Gemini. It didn’t feel quite so comforting, and I didn’t know what to make of that. So in Taurus fashion, I stayed quiet and took it slowly.

Then I saw this poem on the subway, and it suddenly clicked. Like Eve, part of us is longing to be comforted right now. Somehow the upheavals of life have left us uneasy, and we’re longing to hear our own name.

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Libra Full Moon

This is an especially juicy Full Moon, and there are so many aspects involved that I wasn't even sure I wanted to tackle it. But I did feel moved to write about one particular aspect: This Full Moon's connection with the planet Jupiter.

Jupiter has been in the sign of Libra since September 9, 2016. It’s been calling us to stretch more in Libran areas – relationships, art, balance, beauty, peace. Jupiter traditionally gives us blessings, and maybe we’ve felt luckier in those areas. But as Steven Forrest says, Jupiter always asks us “How am I underestimating myself?” Jupiter has been asking us to take risks in these areas and not just settle.

How have you been doing? I’ll tell you how I’ve been doing: Mensa mens'. Así así. I've been writing more, meeting more interesting people, and reading for more clients. Those are all reasons to celebrate. And yet, I'm exhausted by this new pace and I can't stop eating Tostitos. The other side of Jupiter is expansiveness. Jupiter brings more. And while I think I'm hearing the Jupiter message, I'm not sure about the Libran side of it. I find myself swinging back and forth more than achieving balance and peace. Fights with my Mom and husband have brought messages that I'm too judgmental and too generous with people to the point where I overextend myself -- both negative Jupiter traits. At the time of course, they were wrong. I’m just the right amount of judgmental and it’s OK to be generous with people. Plus, isn't calling me judgmental a judgment? During this time, we can be the suboptimal face of Jupiter in Libra, breezily caught in a loop of our own opinions.

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Venus Retrograde 2017

My niece has a security blanket named Frisa (free-sa). Frisa is kind of a tattered mess at this stage. And Elena is a strong and tough little warrior, so she doesn't need Frisa at all times anymore. But she still reaches for Frisa when she's tired, scared, or hurt. She likes to know that Frisa is relatively close by, ready to help in any Comfort Emergency.

As I was thinking about this Venus retrograde period, I was imagining what it might be like for Elena to see Frisa moving slowly backwards from her, seemingly farther and farther out of reach….

Retrograde periods are when a planet appears to move backwards from the earth. Our natural ways of "doing" that planet will typically not work during retrograde periods. We're called to be more reflective and try a new way. Circumstances will inevitably test our openness and flexibility. We hear a lot about Mercury retrograde, maybe because Mercury rules communication, so it's the planet whose retrograde periods we're most likely to notice and discuss. But the other planets give us the same opportunities. And right now, Venus is retrograde. We're all feeling pretty unsettled, and it's a big deal. Not to take anything away from Mercury, but what's a missed flight compared to discontentment in our relationships and a lack of inner peace???

For all of us right now, there's a sinking, terrifying feeling that Frisa has left the building.

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Aries New Moon

The Aries New Moon invites us both into total darkness and fire for a moment. In the hours before, we can reflect on what we are ready to leave behind for the benefit of our own survival. And we can look forward. What have we forged within that can now help ourselves and others? What new habits, emotions and ways of loving and relating can we brave in mystery until they are fully realized? Is there an Aries message in our being and the way we nurture that can be strengthened or adjusted? Are we called to be the pioneer, the warrior, a benevolent leader, or something more precious, delicate and new? Take a moment to imagine how a healthy ego looks to you: Can you incorporate more reflection, kindness, and imagination into your being at this moment? Can you integrate the balance and support of the universe with the boldness, courage and fire within you? Maybe you already have! Can you now come forward to inspire others?

Both the new moon and Aries carry the energies of possibility yet vulnerability. It's not easy to be first. It's not easy to advance in darkness.

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