Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leo Solar Eclipse

August 1, 2008 will be a Solar Eclipse. In general, New Moons are good times for beginning things. This one, an eclipse, has added effects. According to Stephanie Austin, in The Mountain Astrologer, "it signals our readiness for a major shift in direction and priorities." She says in an eclipse the normal flow of solar radiation is interrupted because the Moon blocks the light of the Sun. "Energetic matrices are opened, reorganized, and reconfigured, creating new patterns and pathways."

Austin believes that this eclipse will affect the Pluto in Leo generation (1939 - 1955) and the Uranus in Leo (1955 - 1962), which amounts to millions of people, very strongly, "as it activates their cellular memories of their mission and their fears (Pluto), as well as the need to break from tradition and be an agent of change (Uranus)."

She also says anyone with planetary placements or angles within 5 degrees of the eclipse will feel its evolutionary impulse most directly.

The eclipse is at 9 degrees Leo and therefore is conjunct my natal Pluto, which is at 12 degrees in the 12th house. Over the years, many people have accused me of 'self-sabotage'. Since I have always sought self-knowledge, I have been trying to understrand this and work with it. Generally self-sabotaging behavior is invisible to us and thus hard to control or change. But today I had a clear understanding of an issue I have struggled with all my life. I often feel that I don't get anything done, that I am way behind in my projects and that I live surrounded by 'wasted' talents and resources. Today I realized it is because my mind is over-loaded with inspiration and creative ideas. I struggle with time and space. Never enough time, never enough space. My house is packed. It is very difficult for me to admit I will never get to all the projects, books etc. Even if I did nothing but sew, I'd never be able to make all the garments I have patterns for. Let alone the crocheting, knitting, cross-stitch, etc. It goes on and on. Because I am surrounded by all these reminders of what I have not gotten to, I feel I have accomplished nothing. Since I am working with my North Node in Taurus, I am trying to make slow, but regular prgress. One way I do this is that each day I set some reasonable tasks for myself. At the end of the day, I check the 'to do' list against the 'done' list.

I have so many ideas, goals, plans, projects that no human being alone could get it all done. My mind moves very quickly, coming up with new ideas constantly. I am a natural multi-tasker. In addition, I like being able to do things myself, so, when I decided to get a new website, rather than pay someone else to do it, I had to take Dreamweaver myself. This often leads to tangents that have trajectories of their own. Sometimes, like the person who finds herself in the middle of a room and can't remember why she walked in there, I don't remember why I started out in a direction. To help me 're-trace' my steps, I must go to my garden. Reconnecting with the earth helps me remember what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. Meditation also helps.

The frustration comes when I realize that I come up with more ideas than any human could accomplish on their own in many lifetimes. In addition, now that I'm 60, my body is not as cooperative as it once was. I am tired and achy. I can't do as much as I used to do and it makes me feel depressed and hopeless.

So what is the solution?

Formerly, I would have thought: I should get rid of this all this stuff that I will never get a chance to do; I should curtail my creativity, just focus on a few things, dropping the rest.

Today, under the influence of the Leo eclipse, I realized I could do more if I had a staff including a chef, housekeeper, chaffeur, secretary, gardener.....LOL! Now that is truly a Leo idea. I laughed to myself, but why not? Rather than stop thinking, planning, creating, I need a domestic staff and a company with many employees.

As for understanding our mission, this is a problem we all share. Our soul designs an incarnation, like writing a screenplay, including the supporting characters and situations, so that it can experience something or accomplish something. Then we get here and forget. We spend most of our lives asking why we are here etc. because we have forgotten the 'play' we ourselves wrote.

There is actually a story about this. Recently I was told this is a Jewish folktale, but I'm not sure of that. The story goes that we did all this planning before we were born, including choosing our parents and everything that will happen in our life. Then, when we are born, an angel touches us right above our upper lip, which seals our mouth, and we forget. That little dip right under our nose, is the remnant of the angel's touch. For the rest of our lives we wonder what it's all about. It sounds like this eclipse will give us an opportunity to remember.

At the end of her article, Austin says that the Sabian symbol for this eclipse indicates that a new era is dawning: "Early morning dew sparkles as sunlight floods the field; the exalted feeling that rises within the soul of the individual who has sucessfully passed through the long night which has tested his strenth and his faith." According to Austin, the questions you should be asking yourself are: "What brings you joy? What do you love more than anything else?" She goes on to say "You are the eyes and hands of God. Dream. Dare. Do. Life is waiting to be lived through you. Rmemeber: 'When you don't follow your nature, there is a hole in the universe where you were supposed to be.' (Dane Rudhyar)"

Look at where this eclipse is occuring in your chart. Are there any planets or aspects that might be highlighted? The house where this eclipse is occuring is where you might experience insight and/or change.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pluto and Ceres: Paradigm Shift

The Aug/Sept issue of the Mountain Astrologer has an excellent article on Ceres and Pluto by Shirley Soffer.

In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union made the official announcement that Ceres was upgraded from asteroid to dwarf planet, while Pluto was downgraded from planet to to dwarf planet. Soffer suggests we view them as a planetary pair in relation to each other.

While astrologers have certainly worked with Pluto and some with Ceres, Soffer suggests that by understanding the mythology behind them, it is easier to see how they are related.

Mythologically, Ceres and Pluto are opposing figures in the life of Persephone. Ceres, her mother, is a vegetation Goddess, which we recognize in the word 'cereal'. Her Greek name, Demeter, means 'Earth Mother'. She rules over everything that grows from the soil. Clearly, her domain is life and all that nurtures it, especially food.

On the other hand, Pluto rules the Underworld and is lord of all that is beneath the earth. Death and transformation are forces within his domain. Called the 'Lord of Hidden Wealth', his domain includes underground springs, fossil fuels, minerals, iron ore, silver, gold and diamonds.

Taken together, Ceres rules over all the riches on top of the Earth and Pluto the riches beneath the Earth. Both very important to human life. Our over-consumption of the underground riches however, threatens to poison everything above ground.

In a nutshell, the mythological story of Persephone, Ceres and Pluto, was that Persephone was out picking flowers (narcissus) and by doing so accidently opened a hole into the underworld. Pluto reached up and pulled her in. Ceres (Demeter) searched and searched for her daughter, then in mourning, forbid any plant to grow until she had her daughter back. Life on the earth whithered and died. She said she would not allow anything to grow until her daughter was returned to her.

Ceres appealed to Zeus, who soon realized that if all the humans died, there would be no one to worship him. The Law said that no one could come back from the Underworld. Eventually, a deal was struck so that Persephone would be released, but since she had eaten pomegranate seeds, she had to return to the underworld for part of the year.

In her article, Soffer writes about several themes in relation to Ceres and Pluto such as: 1) the depletion of resources both above and below ground and how this will impact the food supply; 2) processes of transformation - well-known for Pluto; for Ceres - the processing of food into energy: 3) the relationship between life and 'killing' - something must die to feed something else - even vegetarians 'kill' to eat; 4) the psychological relationship between mother and daughter - sexual coming of age of the daughter; and 5) the psychological themes of attachment, separation and loss. She explores these themes using charts of famous people whose lives have had strong Pluto/Ceres aspects and contacts.

The article was extremely informative and thought-provoking. Astrologers have written about the relationship between the discovery and/or the naming of a heavenly body and events on the ground. I began to wonder what could be the meaning of Pluto being 'demoted' and Ceres 'promoted'? Now they both have equal stature and are lower on the planetary hierarchy.

Could it have something to do with power and how it has been viewed since Pluto's discovery in 1930? I wrote in my other blog how there was a concerted effort to 'jump-start' the economy after the Depression. In addition, Roosevelt's many social programs assisted people in getting 'back on their feet'. Between the governmental programs and the success of advertising, as the econonmy began to recover, more people had access to things that had once been strictly available to the rich, such as cars. There was a huge shift from rural to urban lifestyles. Women had more rights and independence - having a career instead of or in addition to a family, which meant that the demand for 'labor-saving devices' became a priority for industry.

All of this meant more and more resources coming out of the ground and fewer farmers on the land. The family farms, lost during the Depression or ruined by the Dustbowl, were taken over by banks then large companies and eventually large-scale commercial agriculture was born and with it the increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Little did we know the effects of our success. World War II saw the development of even better ways to kill people, including the many chemical products created by the Nazis and our own atomic bomb. Now Pluto (plutonium) could kill us all.

So how does all this relate to Pluto and Ceres?

When the Lord of the Underworld (think of all the crime that occurred in the 30's and how the criminal lifestyle is referred to as the 'underworld') begins to reach up out of his domain and grab the 'innocent', it leads to death and chaos on the earth. We have been extracting and mining too many resources from under the earth and transforming them into poisonous substances so that we can have more power and control over Nature.

Because of our overuse and misuse of resources, we are now teetering on the brink due to global warming, pollution of Nature, extreme weather conditions, to name just a few. In the midst of this, Pluto is demoted. Pluto's seductive offers of power - like compacts made with the Devil, are no longer appearing desirable. People are wising up to the reality of the fact that they have been soiling their own nest for riches and fame. Mom Nature, mourning the loss of our innocence and purity, has begun to shut things down.

But wait, as Pluto was demoted so was Ceres promoted. Zeus has begun to intervene. Everyday you hear of another company, agency, country, or powerful individual getting on the band-wagon for change in the way we use resources. Corporations have begun to realize that without customers, they are out of business. The way to stay in business is to change. In the '60s we tried to burn it all down and return to the land. That didn't work. Rather, today's young people are finding ways to strike a compromise. Make Green profitable.

In her presentation at UAC, Misty Kuceris emphasized Ceres as a compromising force. Finding a way to get two disparate forces to work together. In the myth, Ceres compromised with Pluto by accepting that her daughter, now a woman, would stay in the underworld for part of the year and would return to the surface, as her daughter, part of the year. We are in the midst of the paradigm shift that has been written about and predicted for years. Seeds planted in the '60s are coming to fruition in the children born then who are finding and implementing solutions.

Perhaps the compromise will mean that in order to survive, we will need to learn to live with less. We will see that it is untenable that a few people should live in comfort while millions are suffering. We will seek and find different sources of power. we will find value in simpler things, closer to home, inside ourselves, rather than external to ourselves. We will realize that true power is in our ability to give and receive love and that the Beatles were right after all. Love is all there is.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Capricorn Full Moon

The Full Moon in Capricorn is upon us, giving us a hint of how Pluto in Capricorn will be for us as individuals and as part of the collective.

In general, what you seed at the New Moon and should begin to show results at the Full Moon. It may be a flower or a weed, but you'll have something. Then you must decide if you want to keep it or not.

In many traditions of the world, but not all, the Sun is considered masculine, the Moon feminine. What we have now, is the opposite. Presently the Sun is in Cancer, which represents the archetype of the Mother; the Moon in Capricorn, the Father. Each has a role to play in society and within our own psyches. The Mother bears, nurtures and protects the child. The Father teaches the the child how to function in society, often by preparing him/her to work. In tradtional societies boys learned their father's trade and moved into it when they grew up. Mothers taught their daughters, usually by example, how to cook, sew, raise children etc. Of course, now days these roles are not as rigid as they once were. I do believe, however, that they have made an imprint on our psyches after the thousands of years that they were in operation and that they have made their marks on our karma.

It has only been a short time since the societal roles for men and women were rigidly defined. For most people in the world, they still are.

In any case, Our inner Mother is how we nurture ourselves and others. Our inner Father is how we work with structure in our lives and discpline ourselves to accomplish things. This Full Moon gives us another opportunity to look at this. Do we work too much leaving no time to enjoy life and be with our loved ones? Are we in touch with what we need to be nourished besides food? Studies indicate that most Americans are sleep deprived and/or have trouble sleeping. Yet, how many hours do we spend watching T.V. or on a computer (blogging)?

Not only does our body suffer from this lack of sleep, but also our dream life. Dreams serve many functions. Dreaming is a way for the psyche to process the events of our day and an avenue for inspiration. Many famous scientists report that they got the idea for a breakthough from their dreams. Artists, writers and composers are often inspired by dream images.

Stephanie Austin in The Mountain Astrologer, says that the Full Moon illuminates the shadow side of each sign as well as its spiritual tasks. Cancer must learn about receiving, Capricorn about giving back. The Crab can build too thick a shell; the Mountain Goat may climb the wrong mountain. The fourth sign must develp healthy roots; the tenth must share the fruits of its labor. The more we diregard our own feelings and needs, the greater is the risk that we will violate the rights and concerns of others. The less responsibilty we assume, the less power we have. The light of this Full Moon reveals whether our crab shells are too thick or too thin--showing us where we need to shed our defenses or establish better boundaries. We wee whether we are climbing the right mountain, or treading someone else's path.

Yesterday Karyn Sanders on her radio show The Herbal Highway on KPFA, talked about how so many Americans are like children and how remaining a child also means you have no power. The entire show was about herbs and flower essences that would help one face reality and grow up and that the among the rewards of adulthood was the increased sense of power and authority. Right in line with this Full Moon. You can listen to this show or any other archived at KPFA.

So the challenge is balance. Retaining the open-heartedness of childhood and the responsibility of adulthood. Learning when to give and when to receive, when to work and when to rest. On my blog Hamida the Herbalist, the issue of the week is about the relationship between gratitude and abundance - which are related to giving and receiving. What is true security? Being heart-centered. It's all connected.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Nodes of the Moon

Have you ever had an astrological reading where you want to know what to be when you grow up and what your life is about and you feel like the answers you get are so vague as to be useless?

Actually that is a good sign. It is a sign that the astrologer is not telling you what to do, but leaving it up to you and your process. In a way, the less they "tell" you, the better.

But then what?

In my own studies, I have found that studying the nodes of the moon is very helpful. When I first started studying astrology 40 years ago, there was almost nothing written about them. Now, there are people who specialize in them.

Basically, the South Node is what you came into this incarnation with - including talents and baggage. Karma is carried on the South Node. It is where you unconsciously go, behavior that comes naturally to you. The path of least resistance.

The North Node is what you are moving towards in this life time and where you should attempt to go. It takes more effort because it is new territory.

I suggest you look at the sign your North Node is in, then the house. Personally, I have been working with my North Node consciously for about 5 years now and it has changed my life for the better. After many twists and turns, I can finally see a clear path ahead.

A book I picked up at the UAC in Denver this year is turning out to be one of the most useful I have ever found for both understanding the meaning of the nodes, then moving forward with the North Node.

It's called Astrology for the Soul, by Jan Spiller. It should be called Working with the Lunar Nodes because that is what it is about. She goes through the North Node in every sign describing behavior or attitudes that come naturally, South Node in opposite sign, and how what you already know can help you or not.

Just to give you a sample, here's the opening section for Taurus North Node which would also be the 2nd house.

Attributes to Develop

Work in these areas can help uncover hidden gifts and talents

* Loyalty
* Awareness of boundaries
* Taking things one step at a time
* A sense of self-worth
* Awareness of personal values
* Patience
* Honoring expressed needs of self and others
* Enjoying the five physical senses
* Gratitude
* Awareness of nurturing from Mother Earth
* Forgiveness
* Persistence

Tendencies to Leave Behind

Working to reduce the influence of these tendencies can help make life easier and more enjoyable

* Attraction to crisis situations
* Overconcern with other people's business
* Impatience
* Inappropriate intensity
* Judgmental tendencies
* Preoccupation with the psychological motivations of others
* Resistance to cooperating with what others want
* overreacting
* Destroying something in order to eliminate one part
* Obsessive-compulsive tendencies

I find this very helpful and practical, and yet they are just suggestions. She is not telling people what to do or what not to do. Some of the points may not be relevant, while others may be right on the button. This is just the beginning of the chapter.

For me, Astrology is a means of knowing and understanding how we and others tick. It is also a tool for transformation, which I believe is part of our purpose while here on Earth. It is spiritual but does not preach any religion or belief.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Navigating Pluto in Capricorn - We Need All the Help We Can Get

Just listened to a recording of Darby Costello from the recent UAC conference in Denver and felt this was important and I wanted to share it.

As I understood it, she said that one way to work with Pluto in Capricorn (which is ruled by Saturn), is to look at where Saturn is right now. Saturn is in Virgo and therefore trines Pluto. So, since trines are "helpful" "supporting" aspects, Saturn work can help us as we go into Pluto in Capricorn, a difficult transition, since it's kind of like going from the feast to famine. Easier to go from famine to feast. The Saturn work, because in Virgo, is about slow, small tasks, incremental progress. In fact, she said that if we do the Saturn work, Pluto in Capricorn will take care of itself. Nice thought.

Saturn in Virgo is about determining whether what we are doing is useful or not. It is also about finding ways to be efficient with everything, including our time. She suggested stopping as we go through our day, and asking ourselves if we are off on tangents or if what we are doing is what we planned to do. With Saturn in Virgo (ruled by Mercury) there might be a tendency to think about doing things rather than doing them - or thinking we are doing them when actually all we are doing is thinking about doing them. Does that make sense? Even if what we do is small compared to what we "should" do, the effort is well worth it. In fact, she suggested that the smaller the better, since accomplishment will encourage us. If we make the job to be done too large, we will not be able to complete it and the resulting discouragement will stop our progress.

The next part was to look at where your Mercury is, since Saturn is in Virgo, ruled by Mercury. Mercury by sign and house. This will give you clues about what "the work" might be, if you don't already know.

My Mercury is in Cancer in the 11th house. As I see it, my work is about nurturing and healing on behalf of the collective. I do volunteer work for the Master Gardener program. At home, I grow vegetables, herbs and pollinator-friendly plants. I am an herbalist and an astrologer. With Gemini in the 10th house, I feel part of my role is to disseminate information, so I see my various vehicles - blogs, website and even my products, as means to educate as well as heal. Continuing to do this work, in whatever way I can, will be good for the collective and for myself. Saturn in Virgo is in the 1st house right now, so "the work" "heals" "me" too. Healing includes providing useful information - another way that I serve.

As the Leos would say, "enough about me, what do you think of me" LOL - back to Pluto. After the extravaganza of Sagittarius, Capricorn might be felt as restrictive. A belt-tightening. But that is not necessarily bad. After persuing all the options, time to choose. Time to stand up for what you have chosen. Time to focus, organize and give form to what you believe. Do you believe anything?

For us Baby-Boomers, who are now officially seniors, did we learn anything from all that exploration? Do we only mourn our lost youth or value our gained wisdom? Is the famous expression "is that all there is?" what we are left with or do we instead feel the richness of life, the as yet unexplored depths?

This is a tme to assess what we have that is important - both inner and outer resources. What no longer serves, must be eliminated. No room for excess baggage. As I write this, the idea of shedding things so that one can become mobile - return to Nomadism. Huh I wonder what that's about?

I am still running the give-away. To the first three people who send a comment with their birth data: time, place and date of birth, and email address, I will send a free astrological report. I am expanding the give-away to give you a choice of 1) the Sky Within - a reading of the entire chart, 2) Opportunities - a reading focusing on your career potential, or 3) Asteroids - a reading of the four major asteroids plus Chiron. Your choice. I will not publish the comment if your email is on it. But I must have your email in order to send the report.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cancer New Moon - July 2 - 3

This is the third SuperMoon of 2008.

A SuperMoon is when the Moon is both near perigee (its closest approach to the Earth) and syzygy (in a New or Full Moon phase). SuperMoons generate stronger gravitational pulls on coastal tides, weather patterns and tectonic plates. Our psyches are more easily shifted as well: emotions surge and viewpoints change. Though not as strong as an eclipse, a SuperMoon increases the electromagnetic force both of the Sun and the Moon, making it easier for us to break up old patterns and construct new pathways.

The Moon is in Cancer, the sign it rules. Cancer reminds us that we all are children and mothers, that we must receive as well as give. What feeds us and how we nurture others are specific to each person and will vary at differenct stages of development. What was nourishing at one point may stifle us later; what helped us sprout may not foster our blossoming. Like a plant, we grow toward the light. This New Moon asks us to reflect upon what we require and also what currently blocks our growth.

Ceres at 9 degrees Cancer conjoins the Sun and Moon. In Roman mythology, Ceres was the goddess of agriculture and a daughter of Saturn, another ancient fertility figure. Her name (as well as the root of "create" and "increase") comes from the Indo-European root ker, meaning "to grow."

Known to the ancient Greeks as Demeter, Ceres played a central role in the Eleusinian mysteries -- the sacred rites of birth, death, and renewal -- that connect her with both spiritual and physical sustenance.

Ceres (now designated a "dwarf planet") was the first asteroid to be sighted. It was discovered in 1801 and its association with a goddess rather than a masculine arechetype coincided with an emerging women's rights movement.

Ceres, in conjunction with this New Moon acts as a reminder of what has been splintered off from our collective psyche: the power of the feminine, the importance of knowing where we came from, and the value of knowing where we belong.

Venus in Cancer conjoins this New Moon and exactly opposes Jupiter in Capricorn, further expanding our view on home and family.

The Sabian symbol for 12 degrees Cancer indicates that we need to nurture the part of us that already knows the truth.

"A Chinese woman nursing a baby whose aura reveals him to be the reincarnation of a great teacher."

This New Moon reminds us: "We are star stuff harvesting starlight...We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself...We are, in the most profound sense, children of the Cosmos..." (Carl Sagan)

excerpted from "Cancer New Moon -- July 2-3" by Stephanie Austin June/July 2008 issue of The Mountain Astrologer.

This New Moon conjuncts my natal Venus in the 11th house. It is a reminder to me that nurturing myself nurtures the collective. If I hope to be a vehicle for positive change, I must do those things that make me the best possible person - inside and outside.

Rumi says: "Let the beauty you love, be what you do." And fortunately, I am able to do this. I go outside each morning and visit my plants. I see their progress and what change they have made. What is blooming, fruiting or going to seed. Then I walk up the road behind my house and notice what is going on there. Today I actually saw quail. I thought I heard them days ago, but was not sure it was quail until I saw one run across the road. I realized I had not seen quail for years, despite them being our State Bird.

I spend hours a day online, again doing what I love. Communicating information that I have found helpful and interesting. Today I saw a blog that focuses on 'boredom'. I realized that I am so fascinated by so many things, I don't have time to be bored. Just look around you. There is so much to experience. Right where you are at any moment. If you don't understand this, let me know and I will explain.

For me this New Moon is also about re-dedicating myself to a meditation practice. Many years ago, a psychic by the name of Betty Bethards, taught me a meditation technique and prescribed it as a means of restoring my aura. I had proof that her recommendations were valid. I continued to meditate for several years, then sort of dropped off. Last night at Rio Olesky's Tuesday Night Astrology Class, I remembered Betty Bethards and how she had helped me. So today, I started again.

It's never too late to start again.

Rumi says: "Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving — it doesn't matter,
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times,
Come, come again, come."

We have to remember that making change is difficult. We have to forgive ourselves for forgetting, being lazy, stubborn or stupid. With the dawning day, start afresh.