Thoughts on the Month Ahead

June 2023

I’ve been traveling a lot, moving up and down hilly highways, looking at the people and the houses and the trees from Georgia to Canada. But June is going to be my month for hanging out at home. It looks like a fairly grounded month for a lot of people, with Jupiter continuing through the fixed earth sign Taurus, and Saturn in gentle, introverted Pisces.  

In June, Jupiter and Saturn form a harmonious aspect, a sextile between Taurus and Pisces. This links earth and water, an abundant and fertile connection. Earth needs water to make sure everything flows, while water needs earth to provide structure. It’s a good month for gardeners, as well as for those who nurture, heal, protect and support all other forms of life.

And it’s a good month for music, since both Taurus and Pisces express themselves naturally that way. Taurus is ruled by Venus, the planet of art and beauty, and it rules the throat, so lots of vocalists are born with Taurus influences. Pisces is ruled by Neptune, the planet of dreams and mysticism, so it’s a good sign for poets and lyricists. The sensuality of Taurus and the otherworldliness of Pisces can come together to create something beautiful.  

Artists as diverse as Queen Latifah, Prince, Elton John, Marianne Faithfull, Tammy Wynette, and Demi Lovato all have Taurus/Pisces combinations in their charts. The last time that Jupiter and Saturn formed a sextile in Taurus/Pisces, in 1964, the Beatles were hurtling up the charts, ushering in a new musical era. (All four of them have some important Taurus or Pisces influence in their charts.)

It’s also a good month for reconciliation. The last time this aspect formed in Taurus/Pisces, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, after a long struggle. Back in the day, there were all those Southern congressmen arguing that it took away their freedom (mainly their freedom to oppress and control others), so as you can see, not much has changed. But it finally passed, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was looking on when it was signed into law by LBJ.  

Jupiter and Saturn are both planets which have to do with social functioning, so this is the focus during the coming month.  Jupiter is about the benefits of community, the growth and sharing of resources, while Saturn is about the necessary boundaries and restrictions. There are freedoms that expand when we all come together, and other freedoms that are taken away. Ideally, these are the ones that nobody needs, like the freedom to keep other people away from your favorite drinking fountain in the park.

In our world today, we are all sorting out what we can demand from each other and what we owe each other. The rearrangement of power and privilege is always accompanied by a lot of fussing, so it’s not a neat or calm process. The Jupiter/Saturn sextile will help us find common ground for the next couple of months, but it will be over by the hottest part of the summer, and we’ll be left to consider what we’ve learned about harmony, reconciliation and compromise.  

Pluto is also retrograding back into Capricorn in June, and a retrograde planet takes you back into the past, one way or another. I imagine it as a group of people trying to move back into a house that’s already falling down, lavishly decorating this crumbling structure, ignoring the dangers of its fragile foundation. When many people suffer – because there’s inequality, because they deal with hostility and violence, because there are too many guns, or because they have no healthcare options – there is really no stability for anyone else either. We are all in this together.

And then there are the increasingly worrisome climate indicators. Sooner or later, we’ll figure out that we do have the clean, renewable resources we need, and we can restructure our society in a way that works for everyone at the same time.  It will take radical action, an excavation of the existing foundation. But it’s really not a good idea to spend the next few months partying in the Clubhouse of Climate Denial.  

There are many areas in which we need to work on reconciliation, but the Jupiter/Saturn sextile can help with all of them. Saturn in Pisces gives a mystical understanding of our place in the cosmos, while Jupiter in Taurus gives a sensible understanding of our place here on earth. If we can bring together the intuition and sensitivity of water and the practicality of earth, we can live in peace and harmony.

How do we do this?  Well, to start with, we can learn from those wise beings who are all around us, the ones who sprout leaves, burst out in flowers, and harbor a multitude of life-forms. They are waiting for us to hear them.  

May 2023

What is May bringing to us?  Here in Maryland, we’ve had plenty of showers – many more than in April – plus lots of flowers besides. Everywhere, we see a dense green backdrop, with leaves thick on the trees. Astrologically, May’s strongest zodiacal influence is Taurus, the fixed earth sign which is most closely aligned to nature. It gives us all the desire to dig in the dirt, walk in the park, hug trees, and sing praises to Gaia.  

As a fixed earth sign, Taurus is generally known as the most stubborn sign in the zodiac, the most resistant to change. Yet, throughout history, there have been many revolutionaries with Taurus suns or ascendants, from Toussaint Louverture to John Brown to Angela Davis.

I think it’s because Taurus is all about basics. It’s a reality-based sign, and it gives a preference for what’s solid, true, and practical. Taurus folk want to be on firm ground all the time, and if the ground feels shaky, they aren’t afraid of doing something definite to set things right. They pay attention when survival issues come up. They put their fingers on what matters.  

This is the month when Jupiter moves into Taurus, something that happens every twelve years. It will be here until May 2024. And so, in some ways, this will be a conservative year, with an emphasis on dealing with basic sustenance issues. In other ways, it will be radical, because the only way that we can fix things is by making changes from the ground up.  

When I look at the list of people born with Jupiter in Taurus, I see a lot of revolutionary spirits. In 1869, it was Emma Goldman and Gandhi. In 1882, it was FDR. In 1893, it was Mao Tse Tung. In 1929, it was Martin Luther King. In 1940-1, you have Joan Baez and John Lennon. In 1952, there was bell hooks. You don’t have to agree with everything that these folks did and said, but one common denominator is a willingness to deal with basic social problems and to stand for clear, sensible change.

The more radical side of Taurus is especially likely to emerge this time around because Uranus, the planet of abrupt change and liberation, is also in this sign. Uranus has been in Taurus since 2019, and in that time, we’ve seen major economic shifts all over the world. The pandemic brought up the deficiencies in our economy, political systems, and health care protocols. And then, afterwards, there’s tension between those who just want things to go back the way they were, and others who have worked out a better way.

Jupiter is the planet of community, showing the ways in which we grow through contact with each other.  While it’s in Taurus, we’ll expand the ways we share our resources and take care of each other. People will resurrect practical solutions to problems involving food scarcity, public health, pollution, climate change, and fair labor practices. Some of these solutions will take us back to earlier days, before we were supporting so many billionaires. Some of them will be hybrids, and some will be new.

I’m not saying that there will be change without struggle, however. One of Jupiter’s first aspects will be the square to Pluto, which just went into Aquarius a little over a month ago. The Taurus/Aquarius square is about the tension between what is natural and what is technological. Taurus is about living close to the earth, while Aquarius is innovative and inventive.

Nowadays, I’m seeing lots of warnings about the dangers of living and working with robots. I recently read that a woman fell asleep on the floor and woke up to find that her robot vacuum cleaner was eating her hair. Sounds more dangerous than having a boa constrictor for a pet!  But other articles are more serious and far-reaching, calling up vast, shadowy fears about robots reproducing and wiping out humankind.  

This wariness is not a bad thing, although it can go too far, and helpful technologies can be shunned because of prejudice.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of where to put our resources, and Taurus is a sign that believes strongly in fiscal responsibility. In the course of ironing all this out, though, there could be some epic power struggles, since both Jupiter and Pluto are in fixed signs.

Taurus is looking for solid ground, while Aquarius is designing the future. But sometimes, if you really want to stand on something solid, you have to dig everything up and lay down a new foundation. So then the point of contention becomes a question of how to do that. What does the future require?

Everyone has their own instinctive sense of what will make them healthier, wealthier and more secure. Some people think it’s about hoarding basic foodstuffs and gold bars, while others are just hoarding anything they can accumulate. Some people think it’s about breaking up bureaucracies, while others think it’s about solidifying your place in the system. Some people are fighting to hold on to unearned privilege, while others just want a fair slice of the pie.  

For most of us, it comes down to survival. But why does it come down to that? Aren’t there ways to generate both joy and safety, in this world we all share?  Can’t we all have both bread and roses?  It’s simple, basic, natural – and yet radical.  

April 2023

Every day there are more flowering trees outside, and the wind blows the cherry blossoms along, in a friendly imitation of snow.  This balmier weather is seductive, and I’m ready to open the windows in our apartment and let it all in. I should probably wait until it hits 70° out there, I tell myself. In our town square, the skating rink is gone, a dozen new benches have appeared, and the sidewalks are rimmed with daffodils.  

Inside our apartment, things are a bit chaotic, since we just held an anniversary party. Friends and family converged, everyone helping to make the celebration a magical experience. It was wonderful, and now we have leftover champagne for the rest of our lives, or at least a couple of years. I’m not complaining!

I’ve been watching the moon grow fuller these days, and there’s some vital, exciting energy as April begins. On April 6, the Aries/Libra axis is stimulated by the full moon, and this deals with the balance between independence and interdependence. Identity questions come up, and in order to really know who we are, it helps to know each other. We all bounce off each other – emitting sparks, casting reflections, sometimes creating harmonies.

At the full moon, the sun in Aries is moving towards Jupiter, giving good fortune, generosity, and an expansive viewpoint. This sun/Jupiter conjunction will be exact on April 11. The Aries sun gives courage, initiative and spontaneity, and this conjunction expands all these things. We all stretch, moving beyond our usual limited understanding of the world around us. We can see more of the elephant, and we’re willing to believe that the unseen parts do exist. We might even find ourselves riding on its back, swaying and rocking down the path to our dreams.

This doesn’t mean that all your dreams will come true in the middle of April, but it’s a good time to go for it, whatever “it” is for you.  On April 11, Venus also enters Gemini, trining Pluto in Aquarius, and so you may find yourself in especially interesting discussions and consequential meetings.  Gemini is all about communication, and most of the time, it tends to be light and fun-loving, but the trine to Pluto deepens everything. You can really talk it out, including bringing up the things that everybody usually ignores.    

Right after that, on April 14, that fresh, mischievous Venus-in-Gemini energy could be dampened by a square to Saturn in Pisces. You might have to carve out a little quiet space, and come to terms with some of the tough realities of life. A hard Saturn aspect is all about reaping whatever you’ve sown, and so quite a few people and institutions could be held accountable.  The sun is still close to Jupiter, however, and this is more benevolent. For most of us, it’s probably a good thing that justice will be tempered with mercy.

On April 20, the new moon occurs just before the sun enters Taurus. A new moon indicates new beginnings, but when it happens on the last degree of a sign, it’s also a time of endings. The endings are necessary so that the new things can grow. Something is laid to rest, finally.  And because there’s an eclipse at this new moon, transitional events have definite, far-reaching effects.

After this, the sun enters gentle, calming Taurus, and the next day, Mercury in Taurus goes retrograde. When it retrogrades, it’s close to Uranus, planet of sudden change, but then it turns  around and backs away from this rebellious planet. It’s as though Mercury is saying that it’s just not ready for that yet! So the focus continues to be on the past. It’s time to sweep up all the debris, to finish projects, to cope with whatever the physical world has sent you.  The new beginnings are tiny seedlings, hardly visible at this point.  But they will grow, and everything you do to clear the space will help them grow.

So as Mercury retrogrades in Taurus, the pace is more leisurely, and the mood more contemplative. This is an especially good time for dealing with physical chores that have been ignored during the last few months. If there’s anything around the house or yard that needs fixing, mending, or organizing, you can get to it. In the wider world, it’s also good for setting fundamental things to rights, improving access to basic things like food security, housing needs, and health care.

Like the Venus/Saturn square I mentioned early, retrograde Mercury can be a time of reckoning. On March 30, DT was indicted, but since it happened when the moon was void-of-course, I expect that red tape will hang everything up. But perhaps it’s just the first of several indictments, and maybe one of them will stick.

After Mercury retrogrades, there are a couple of speedier aspects – the Mercury/Mars sextile on April 23, and the Mars/Uranus sextile on April 29. But these are not too demanding. Mostly April seems like a fairly forgiving month, a time to deal with practical matters. Community efforts go smoothly, and rebellions fizzle out for lack of interest. With all the Taurus energy, it’s a nice time to go outside and wiggle our toes in the dirt. That’s my plan.

March 2023

My wife and I just got back from a vacation in California, and one of the loveliest parts of this trip was watching the sun lower its fiery head into the Pacific Ocean. After the sky darkened, beautiful Venus would appear in the western sky, with Jupiter just above it.

Now that we’re home, we can still see these two planets from our window, muted by the city lights. They’ll be exactly conjunct tomorrow (March 2), and together they call forth love, pleasure and delight. This is a good time to celebrate whatever you have to celebrate, even if it’s just waking up in the morning and breathing in a new day.  

Is change always something to celebrate?  If so, this is the month to shoot off fireworks.  There are two major planetary shifts in March, each signaling the beginning of a new era. Saturn enters the water sign Pisces (for the next two and a half years), and Pluto enters the air sign Aquarius (where it will spend the next twenty years, although it will move back and forth for a little while before definitively entering this sign).   

Saturn’s sojourn in Pisces is short compared to Pluto’s decades in Aquarius, but it’s still very significant. Among Saturn’s archetypes are the Crone, the Wise Teacher, and the Stern Disciplinarian. Some people also connect it to the Devil, since Saturn is all about learning control and self-restraint, and this isn’t always pleasant.  Saturn is about paying attention to what is happening, making good decisions, and protecting oneself.

During the last several years, Saturn has been in Aquarius, a sign that’s about community, technology, and objective knowledge. When Saturn entered Aquarius in 2020, everyone immediately shut their doors and started isolating, but at the same time, the virtual community expanded enormously. Here’s my own example: In Huntsville, Alabama, seven hundred miles from where I live, there was a woman’s choir that met every week. Unable to get together, they formed a zoom writers’ group, and gradually the group picked up more and more out-of-towners. Now the choir is back to singing in Huntsville, but the writers’ group continues, and I look forward to it every time.   

How many people learned new technical skills while Saturn was in Aquarius? One old friend of mine never even emailed before the pandemic, and now she’s a fixture in zoom groups. People became less locally focused, more global in their perspective. Folks have also had to re-appraise their jobs, leading to more resignations and lateral shifts.  More people are working or studying remotely, often breaking up the workday for a better work/life balance.

Saturn always involves some discipline, some effort, and so none of this has been easy. What does Saturn have in store for its next batch of lessons?

Pisces is a sensitive water sign, focused on the emotional energy that flows between all of us. And so during this time we will all be more open to feelings, more sympathetic and compassionate, but also more easily thrown off balance by every passing sigh, glance, memory or vibration. Some people will become victims of their own inner turbulence, while others are especially sensitized to the sufferings of others, and will reach out to help whenever they can.

Will this be just lip-service, or will there be practical support for people who need it?  Will we be able to de-criminalize and de-stigmatize poverty and addiction?  Pisces is not a particularly practical or organized sign, for the most part. At the same time, it’s not prone to endless processing either, but rather instinctively moves to ease pain. Sometimes this is clumsy, but it’s heartfelt.

However, Pisces is a sign that sometimes has trouble with boundaries, and since Saturn is the planet that rules structures, rules, and traditions, this is not always an easy combination. Over and over, Saturn will test our ability to be clear about our limits. A lot of do-gooders will spring out of the woodwork, and some of these folks will be over-zealous in their rescuing. They may have trouble recognizing that everyone needs autonomy and control over their own lives. In intimate relationships too, boundaries may need to be drawn and re-drawn.  

Pisces is also the most spiritual sign in the zodiac, in part because of the ability to see that everything is connected. There are no divisions between people in a Piscean world, mainly because everyone feels what everyone else feels. This could result in some beautiful representations of soul energy, from artists, writers, and musicians. Mystics and religious leaders could take everyone to new heights of spiritual inspiration.

There will be lots of folks who’ll be shocked at the manifestations of Saturn in Pisces. Gender lines have already thinned considerably, and they will become even more porous. We can all be anything we feel. But for people who have invested a lot of energy in their own well-defined identities, this could be a confusing time. We’ll have to spend some of our compassion on these people, even if we also understand that they can sometimes strike out in dangerous ways.  

And what about Pluto, and its own sea-change?  Whenever Pluto moves into a sign, there are transformations relating to that sign. Capricorn is the sign of structure, hierarchy, ambition, and big business, and when Pluto moved here in 2008, there was a worldwide financial crisis. Banks and businesses failed, and the government invested huge sums into shoring them up. Not long after this, corporations were granted the same rights as individuals in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  Pluto in Capricorn is ending with another economic downturn, with the Covid epidemic.

So this has been a turbulent period for capitalism, and it exposes its very basic flaws. It’s clear now that, since the multiplication of dollars is the bottom line, corporate success is angled towards low wages and cheap products. Economic value and actual community values are not aligned.  If they were, we would have leaner, safer, more humane responses to crisis. And we would also be dealing much more effectively with climate change and its imminent dangers.

But as I said, Pluto is not quite finished with Capricorn, even though it’s moving into Aquarius for the first time this month. It will be in Capricorn again during the last six months of 2023, and then again for a couple of months in 2024. Capitalism will hang on, in spite of the internal imbalances that keep weakening it. It’s like a dog that only has one bone, and is determined to gnaw on it until the bitter end.  

So what will be transformed during Pluto’s time in Aquarius? Technology, for one. Education. Communities. Aquarius is a rational and progressive sign, and so new ideas will spring forth, and community structures could be transformed. Community might even become more important than corporate wealth.  It’s true that the last time that Pluto was in Aquarius – 1777 to 1798 – there were revolutions all over the world, and this could happen again. I have high hopes for a more just and equitable world, but I know that every social improvement is followed by some resistance to change. And sometimes these clashes are violent.

I’m hoping for peace, but I know that real peace only comes with justice, and justice generally requires struggle. But this month, I’ll watch Venus and Jupiter in the sky, and send out a springtime affirmation that these new signs will manifest in the most positive way over the coming years. May it be so, for the benefit of all future generations.  

February 2023

This morning, I looked outside, and the tree branches were all outlined in snow. Now the sun has melted it, but it’s definitely cold out there. People are all bundled up, lumpy with layers. I’m inside, looking out, thinking about the time till spring.   

In Memphis, there’s a funeral going on. The funeral for Tyre Nichols is being live-broadcast by the Washington Post. Kamala Harris was at the podium earlier, and I just heard Al Sharpton speaking about what Martin Luther King might’ve seen when he went to the mountain-top. He referenced Rev. King’s last speech, the one he gave in Memphis. In it, the Reverend imagined that the Almighty took him on a tour that covered all of history, and asked him what age he’d like to live in, and he picked the current age, because of the power and beauty of the movement to end injustice.

Al Sharpton and others are using this space to call for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It’s a fairly moderate piece of legislature which adds to the accountability of the police. In the faces of the crowd, I can see how tired people are of the violence, mostly directed towards the Black community.  It’s a toxicity that burns at the heart of this country.

And since it’s Black History Month, we can all look at the history of policing, and see its origins – at least in the south – in the slave patrols. So often in our country’s history, police forces have acted as the flunkies of the rich and powerful, willing to embody the worst of the country. In doing so, they take out their own aggressions on anyone perceived to be less powerful. Fixing this problem isn’t easy, since this attitude is so engrained in the US culture of violence and dominance.  

Will we see movement on this, and other issues of justice, in February? It is a month of movement, with all the planets direct. At the same time, it’s a month of endings, as Pluto reaches the last degree of its sign, Capricorn. I expect a weakening of right-wing power when Pluto moves into Aquarius, but this month, it could give out a last gasp. Pluto’s time in Capricorn has brought a severe right-wing backlash against progressive thinking and Black agency. I can’t really call this right-wing movement “conservative”, since its focus has been on reeling back progress, not conserving social norms or environmental stability. I’m hoping that more progressive forces will be in the ascendency as Pluto moves into Aquarius.

In 2023, Pluto will only be in Aquarius for a couple of months before retrograding back to Capricorn. In 2024, it will re-enter Aquarius in January, and then spend the next twenty years there. Every Pluto sign changes the zeitgeist, introducing a generation with a new mission. I’ve seen six of them so far, and the Pluto in Aquarius era will be the seventh, and probably my last. I have great hopes for it.

But what of February 2023, a month still mostly dedicated to the old order?  Well, Saturn, the planet of accountability and responsibility, is moving through Aquarius, and you could say that it’s paving the way, laying down a track for all of us to follow. In Tyre Nichols’ funeral, we see the sorrow and hunger for justice, the fierce energy that’s always been part of the struggle of Black Americans to be free and to survive. Saturn shows this focus on justice as a lesson, an example for all of us. If we are going to survive as a country, even as a world, we need to find some ideals, some principles. We could start just by adopting the ones we say we believe in – life, liberty, freedom of expression, and opportunities for all.

Aquarius is, above all, a sign of principles.  It’s also a sign dedicated to community, to teamwork, to bringing together diverse people and crafting them into a whole. Communities who are good at doing this, who have practiced it for a long time, will have an edge during this time. Capricorn was the sign of big business and corporations, but Aquarius is the sign of classrooms, unions, and town halls. Under this influence, people come together to learn, to teach each other, and to organize for change. As Saturn moves through Aquarius, we will see new ways of structuring our society.

While Saturn is going through Aquarius, Jupiter is racing through the fire sign Aries, and this can keep things jumping. Jupiter, the sign of growth, development, and optimism, is especially active and passionate in Aries. Jupiter in Aries is all about breaking through stasis, although it can sometimes spell commotion without real change. It warms everyone, overheats some people, and periodically manifests in heroic acts and rash impulses.

All through February, Mars stays in Gemini, the sign of communication, so the information network will be alive and well.  At the beginning of the month, Mercury is moving slowly, recovering from its recent retrograde, but then it speeds up.  Mercury’s last aspects in February will be to Uranus, planet of change, and Mars, planet of action, so things will get pretty exciting after mid-March. Ideas can create a wall of change, and then people can dramatize that with their bodies.

In the beginning of the month, Venus is in the gentle water sign Pisces, and about mid-month, she gets close to Neptune, the planet of dreams. For a while, everyone will be hypnotized by their own private pleasures and addictions. But then on February 20, right at the Pisces new moon, Venus bursts into Aries, and suddenly, excitement moves from person to person, like a torch passing from one flame to the next. Passions are shared and enthusiasms sharpen. Then, as the moon waxes, and the sun moves through the emotional sign Pisces, there is room for spiritual growth. Barriers fall, and we can really see each other.  Who have we been, who are we now, and who are we becoming?