Thoughts on the Month Ahead

July 2024

I’ve been discouraged, I’m the first to admit. I watched the first debate between Biden and Trump, last Thursday, and it was crushing. I was expecting to see smart, sassy Biden –  as he was during the State of the Union address just six months ago –  and instead I got jet-lagged, cold-suffering, disconnected and somewhat inarticulate Biden.

I’m glad I watched it, because otherwise I would’ve just assumed everybody was exaggerating. And then after that, there were Supreme Court decisions, which mostly gave Trump everything he wanted, while enshrining bad policies for the ages. The last one, which refused to say that the president had to obey the law, made me reel. Who’s to decide what’s an “official act”?

Now Mercury has moved into the fire sign Leo, and so my spirits have risen a little. I’m still dueling with some fears around the idea of a second Trump presidency, though. There’s a sense of unreality, something I imagine has been felt by many citizens of other countries, at many times in history. First there’s a democracy, and then suddenly, there isn’t. It’s a gradual slide, until it’s not.

In the long run, I really am optimistic. I’ve been saying hopeful things about Pluto’s new sign, Aquarius, predicting a freer, more egalitarian era, a time of intellectual curiosity and scientific progress. But it hasn’t really gotten started yet, since Pluto is retrograding back, and will be in Capricorn once more between September 1 and November 20. So on Election Day, I see the danger of moving back towards the Old World Order. Pluto in Capricorn was a time of enormous financial inequality and unprecedented corporate power. I’m been ready for it to end, but the old ruling class could enjoy one last round of drinks in their sinking yacht.

I wonder if it’s just habit that holds rich folks in the clutches of the Republican Party. Its newest iterations don’t offer them anything of substance, since it keeps threatening to dismantle everything that contributes to social stability. That’s not likely to help them hold onto wealth and power. Sure, some rich conservatives think that The Handmaid’s Tale is actually the picture of a better world, but most are not that radical. Most see themselves as involved in some kind of partnership with the general population. After all, we are consumers, and we’re not entirely mindless.

On the other hand, many of the Republican donors are involved in businesses that have a distinct shelf-life, such as fracking, gas and oil. These dinosaurs are hoping to stave off extinction, even while risking the extinction of the human species. They’re desperate. They’ll do anything, even give millions of dollars to a known grifter.

So what’s going on with President Biden?  Uranus is opposing his sun, and this aspect will be strong during the Democratic convention. This makes me think that they might succeed in kicking him off the ticket. As discouraged as I got after watching the debate, I still don’t see any alternative to Biden. Kamala Harris is the only possible choice, and her aspects during the coming four months are not that great either.

Would she win? Saturn will be opposing her Uranus on Election Day, and this doesn’t usually point to welcome surprises. And if she gets shunted aside for someone else, it would be particularly bitter for her, as well as a rude gesture towards all the Black people who’ve held up the Democratic Party for years.

And what about Donald’s aspects on Election Day? They aren’t that great either, actually. Currently, and for the next four months, Uranus is squaring his Mars. This is an accident-prone aspect, but accidents don’t just refer to the body, and he could get some unlucky breaks relating to his legal and financial troubles. But as we’ve seen in the past, nothing seems to derail him. He’s like that movie monster that keeps popping back up after being clobbered. The hero hits it with a chair and takes some deep breaths, only to turn around and find it reflected once more in the bathroom mirror.  I’m not sure this Uranus/Mars aspect is drastic enough to dispatch Trump for good.  

Pluto is not the only outer planet that’s currently going backwards. This could be called the summer of reruns, because all the outer planets (except Jupiter) will retrograde. Only Jupiter continues in forward motion in Gemini till the autumn, and its job will be to enliven everybody with news, gossip, and alternate perspectives. The other outer planets will be reprising all their old aspects for everyone, making sure that lessons are learned over and over and over again.

After exploring life and astrology for many decades, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is how the world works. We learn something, then we learn it again backwards, and then there’s a refresher course, just to make sure we’ve got it. We’ve faced the craziness of a Trump presidency once, and now we’re looking it in the eye again. Have we, the humans of this country, learned anything from the first time?

Remember when that movie monster refused to stay dead?  It took the whole town working together to smash it into smithereens. That’s what we need now. Let the credits roll.

June 2024

I like Gemini. It’s one of those signs I always have fun with. It’s an air sign, and I have a lot of air in my chart, so I feel an instant positive connection whenever I’m around a Gemini.  I think if I met Walt Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, or Queen Victoria, we’d be friends.

But what about Donald Trump?  Well, we’ve all seen those pix of Trump and the Clintons hanging out, and it looks like everybody’s enjoying themselves. When his mind was still sharp, he was probably a pretty amusing guy.

When you look at a birth chart, you can tell a lot about a person’s personality. You can see what they’ve got to work with, what talents and skills come easily to them. You can tell what they love, and what they fear.  You can see where they experience abundance, and where they feel a sense of scarcity. But you can’t tell where they fall on that long arc that’s always bending towards justice.

And we’ve just seen a little bit of justice play out in Trump’s long life of successfully evading it. Uranus, the planet of radical change, just went over his midheaven. This is a sign that a person is entering a new phase in life. And now he has a new identity, a new role in the public eye – mainly, convicted felon.

In general, Gemini is a light, breezy sign. It’s like an air bubble, something that makes every child giggle. Still, underneath that playful surface, some serious things can be going on, and all it takes is a little bit of Saturn. Put Saturn on the ascendant or midheaven, or give it a square to one of the personal planets, and it’s like a weight dragging that fragile little bubble down. Then suddenly, you’ve got anxiety, shaky nerves, and a sense that time is fleeting.  

Saturn is the planet that takes every person to a place of reckoning. Saturn is all about the finite boxes that enclose us. For all of us, life here on this planet is limited, and as they say in the breezy song  Cabaret, “it isn’t that long a stay”.  Even when we’re still alive, we’re bound by our bodies, and their need for a constant supply of food, water, and air. And somehow, in all our societies, we’ve managed to add strict limits having to do with nation-states, racial categories, gender expectations, and working roles.  People are constantly trying to break out of these, and they sometimes succeed, but they’re sometimes flattened in the process. 

But because Saturn gives us knowledge of mortality, and awareness of limits, it’s also the planet of wisdom. Only in acknowledging reality do we come to terms with it. Once we recognize how we’re bound, we can choose to meet that challenge in different ways. Maybe we want to daydream our lives away, living in a rarified world that nobody else can enter. Maybe we want to try for all the hedonistic pleasures we can. Maybe we want to work towards a saner and happier society, in which nobody is assigned higher status than anyone else. These choices are always ours, and where there is choice, there is freedom.

For example, Harriet Beecher Stowe had the sun, Mercury and Jupiter in Gemini, so she was probably a lot of fun at a gathering. I bet she could tell a story. But her sun and Jupiter opposed Saturn, so she also carried a deeper sorrow, and because of this, she could acknowledge the basic depravity of chattel slavery. She could’ve been just a witty lady of the drawing room, but instead, she was a passionate and capable speaker against the central injustice of her day.

June 2024 is a month dominated by light, breezy Gemini energy, but it’s also a month when Mercury, Venus and the sun all deal with squares from Saturn. So there are moments of reckoning for all of us. There are times when we’re particularly aware of our own limitations, and at these times, we may also relate more fully to the losses and sorrows of others.

Saturn is moving through Pisces, an especially sensitive and spiritual sign, and this isn’t the most comfortable place for the planet of restriction and structure. Saturn is about finite systems, but Pisces is the vaguest, most ethereal sign in the zodiac. Pisces is about imagination and intuition. It’s about what’s unseen. How can you build clear, reasonable structures when you’re dealing with fantasies and illusions and mystical revelations?  

But because Pisces is the sign with the most porous boundaries, this Saturn-sign also strengthens the power of empathy. And so, during June, more of us will be coming to that turning point in which you really see other people as they are –  as equally worthy, as equally divine. This can mean building structures that let in light and air, and turning our backs on structures that are oppressive and suffocating. And because it’s Saturn, it’s a commitment, not a mood.

This Saturn sign moves us towards the elimination of suffering as no other does, so it’s something to celebrate this month. There will be plenty of Gemini moments, in which we just have fun with each other. We can entertain each other with stories, wordplay, gossip, news, jokes, and fresh new ideas. But we can also travel down to a deeper place, a place of reckoning. This is where we learn what we’re doing here, in this brief but brilliant flare called life.   

May 2024

April buzzed along at a great pace for me, and I didn’t even have time to pause and think about all the interesting astrological phenomena, like the eclipse and the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction. It so often happens that when you have a lot to write about, there’s no time to write!

But, as a month, May is no slouch, even though Taurus is generally a more mellow sign.  As a fixed earth sign, Taurus is all about maintaining the status quo, letting everything flower in its own time. But with Uranus and Jupiter currently in this sign, there are plenty of sudden changes, even in structures that seemed solid not long ago.  Everything is shifting, growing, developing, sometimes quite quickly.

As I write this, contradictions abound. We’re seeing the first ever criminal trial of a former president. We also have the Supreme Court debating about whether a president can do anything at all, even murder somebody, with impunity. We have students protesting against the United States’ part in the brutal Israeli war against Gaza. And at the same time, the US House of Representatives just passed a bill equating criticism of the state of Israel with antisemitism.

The energy of the planets is very condensed; they’re all within 120°, one third of the sky circle. This gives passion, focus, and immediacy. We’re all feeling our connections, our interdependence, as we jockey for position within small spaces. There’s more intimacy, but also more conflict. Perspective is hard to maintain, and this exacerbates the friction between different groups and interests.

As May begins, Mars has just moved into Aries, its home sign, and it will be here all through the month.  Mars in Aries is especially hard to contain, since its natural tendency is to rush ahead. It can adopt a scorched earth approach which is at odds with the slow growth natural to Taurus. It’s assertive and competitive, sparking the emergence of warriors, winners, and heroes. People – especially young people –  rush towards adversity, meeting it head-on. This makes for more accidents and disasters, but also more thrilling tales to inspire others.

Mercury, the planet of the mind, is also in Aries as the month starts, and this adds to spontaneous ideas and confrontative language. Verbal sparring is faster and sharper. But halfway through the month, on May 15, Mercury joins four other planets in Taurus, and more practical considerations come up. People become more interested in planting, growing, building, maintaining, healing, and protecting. Of course, Mars in Aries will keep on agitating everybody, and there will be lots of impulsive action. But Mercury in Taurus will add a note of caution, an awareness of sustainability.    

However, the sun, Venus and Mercury all bump up against Uranus, as they move through Taurus. This is like touching a live wire. Losing their Taurus placidity, they become antsy, agitated, and restless. 

The sun/Uranus conjunction can give an urge to redefine yourself. Maybe you’ve been a businessman named Bob, and suddenly you want to own a taco restaurant and call yourself Estelle. The Venus/Uranus conjunction is all about reconfiguring your relationships. Maybe you’ve been comfortably married to Bob, and now it’s time to adjust to Estelle. The Mercury/Uranus conjunction is about building a new mental framework which makes room for all these changes.   

Uranian changes can definitely take you unaware. It’s not like you wanted to get hit by lightning, but there it is, drawing new patterns on your skin.  So my advice this month is to adopt Lauren Olamina’s motto and recognize that the only lasting truth is Change.

Not long after they conjunct Uranus, the sun and Venus go on to conjunct Jupiter, and this is a more benevolent aspect. And so the changes, whatever they are, can take you to a place of expansion, a jumping off place. Because the planets are packed so tightly this month, these aspects are especially needed. You can venture outward, away from this claustrophobic space, away from the intensity and conflict.  The future looks vast, generous, full of abundance. A larger world is waiting for you.

So May is not just about change. There’s also lots of potential for pleasure and success. And then, as the month winds down, the sun enters Gemini (on May 20), Venus enters Gemini (on May 23), and Jupiter enters Gemini (on May 25). Suddenly everybody’s talking! The world is full of chatter. New ideas crop up everywhere, like road-signs to a better world.

Jupiter will be in Gemini for the next year. This is the beginning of the Year of Communication!  What interesting ways will we develop to talk to each other? We’ll see. 

March 2024

It’s still chilly here in Maryland, but there are signs that spring is on its way. I belong to a pagan group at my Unitarian church, and the planning has begun for Ostara, the spring equinox ritual. It’s a time of rebirth and renewal.

Astrologically, too, this is a time of new beginnings, since this month, the sun moves into the fire sign Aries, the first sign of the zodiac.  That won’t happen until March 19, though, so we’ve got a little ways to go. Meanwhile, we’re swimming through the last sign of the zodiac – the mutable water sign, Pisces. Pisces is the most changeable, amorphous, and sensitive sign in the zodiac, so we’re all just testing the waters these days.  

With Pisces, nothing is definite. It’s a sign that’s known for its rejection of barriers, walls, and fixed definitions. This can be good, or bad, or neither, or both, as Pisces might say. Not only is the sun here most of the month, but so are Mercury, Venus and Mars. Mercury starts out here (leaving Pisces on March 9), and Venus and Mars end up here (entering Pisces respectively on March 11 and 22.)

We also have a couple of outer planets just hanging out in Pisces – mainly Saturn and Neptune. Both of them will enter Aries next year, but for now, they’re all about the ambivalence and fluidity of Pisces. With the extra sensitivity and compassion of this sign, we’re all especially open to the suffering around us. At the same time, there’s an ongoing sense of confusion, of uncertainty, and this makes it harder to act with clarity.

 We’re more conscious of the yin/yang of everything. Even when two things (people, nations, attitudes) are in conflict, there’s something that they share, a little of each one on the other side. Yes, we still see our usual villains. But sometimes we see through the veil, and recognize that it’s just a lot of shadow-boxing, and that everyone, on every side, bears a wound.  Even knowing this, we often follow the same hollow scripts.    

Saturn’s message is always about our responsibilities, while Neptune’s is about the ways we hypnotize and delude ourselves. And so this is a time when we’re doing both. On the one hand, we take in the pain all around us, and often recognize our own culpability in it. On the other hand, we are mostly drawn to whatever we’re addicted to, whatever makes us happy (or less anxious) in the moment. It’s so easy to float away from all this intense feeling. There are so many distractions, so many ways to slip into oblivion.

When the sun moves into Aries –  when the spring equinox arrives – will that help us find the clarity we need? Will we be stronger, more definite, more energetic, more heroic?  Those are all Aries traits. The turning from Pisces to Aries is one of the most dramatic of the zodiac. Pisces is the end, Aries the beginning, and this reminds us of the many circles we walk in this life.  At the same time, with the surge of energy that Aries brings, we know that new creative possibilities are constantly appearing.  

Every day is a variation on a theme, yes. But every day is also wholly different from the one before. Every season holds possibilities that the last one couldn’t quite reach. Our central paradox is that we are both endlessly repeating and yet always inventing something new.

There’s a need for all these different phases – the end and the beginning. Like you, I’m eager for the new beginnings, for meaningful change, for a resolution to problems. But the end phase has its value too. When everything is dissolving, when meanings are not clear, when you can see through the walls that people have built, then many more options reveal themselves.

You don’t need to do it the way that people have always done it. You can invent your own language, your own gestures, your own ways of being, your own path. You can shape-shift. When things are breaking down, the only guide you have is the clear light of inner truth. Who knows where it will take you? It will be there for you when the spring equinox comes. It will be the truth that you take into the future with you. It’s the kernel of all that you will create.      

February 2024

Our company just went home at the end of last week, and so I’ve got my study back now.  It’s quiet and spacious. My wife also has her little working space a few rooms away from mine, with everything she needs right at hand. However, neither of us feel in the least bit ambitious today.

I guess it’s because we stayed up late last night, celebrating my wife’s birthday with a concert at the Kennedy Center. We saw Audra McDonald, and she was great. Between her little intro stories and her soaring, versatile voice, I felt like I was watching a whole Broadway musical wrapped up in one person.  I also loved watching the crowd, the variety of young and old people dressed to be seen.  

And now, back to regular life! As I write this, on February 1, it’s still a very earthy time, and I feel a bit too earthbound today. Mercury, Venus and Mars are all in Capricorn, with a focus on work, discipline, and the limitations of time and space. Jupiter and Uranus are in earthy Taurus, with Jupiter here for another three months, and Uranus for another year and a half.

Meanwhile, the sun and Pluto are in the air sign Aquarius. I feel like we’re all trying to fly, but we keep finding ourselves pointed downwards, at the earth. Maybe this is the lesson that we’re all supposed to be learning. Maybe this is Gaia telling us that we have a little housekeeping to do before we take to the stars. We can’t run out the door like bad house-guests with the sheets on a tangle on the floor. (Not that any of our house-guests did that!) We have to leave our little planet in as good a shape as it was when we got here.

And that’s not going to be easy. The current planets in earth signs are telling us to pay attention, because we don’t have unlimited time to do this work.

This Capricorn emphasis is very much of the moment, however. Mercury leaves Capricorn for Aquarius on February 5. Mars does the same on February 13. Venus does it on February 16. At that point, there will be five planets in Aquarius, a definite airy emphasis. The mood will shift to a more experimental, scientific approach to everything. Minds will open, theories will abound, and people will be more eager to learn and to share their new perspectives.  

For myself, I’m always a bit more comfortable when air-signs are predominant. I always feel that the air plane is like an airplane, it takes you somewhere interesting! However, with everyone living on this more rarified plane, does it mean we’ll forget the earth? Well, Jupiter and Uranus will still be in Taurus, and every planet that goes through Aquarius will, sooner or later, make hard aspects to both of them.

These are the only hard aspects that we see in February, these squares (90° angles) between planets in Taurus and Aquarius. There are a few coming in March as well.  As the sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars move through Aquarius, they first bump against Pluto, and with this, they’re charged up, intensified, transformed, empowered. (The sun already did this on January 20, and Mercury, Venus and Mars will do it soon after entering Aquarius.) And then, a little while after that, each makes squares first to Jupiter and then to Uranus in Taurus.

This air/earth tension can manifest in a lot of different ways.  When Aquarians look at Taurus, they can see someone who is stodgy, old-fashioned, a philistine. When Taureans look at Aquarius, they can see someone who’s impractical at best, and maybe a wild-eyed radical. Both are fixed signs, and misunderstandings can abound. (Look at the Aquarius/Taurus square between Abe Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.)

At the same time, these two signs can have more in common than you might think. Both have an underlying strength that comes from their fixity. Both are sure of what’s true and what’s real. Aquarius sees a better world, and considers new patterns and ideas that could make it happen. Taurus is very focused on the immediate realities of this planet, and of the ground under our feet. Sometimes Taureans can be more radical than anybody else, because they pay attention to root causes. They notice what is sustainable and what isn’t.  

Taurus is the steward of the earth, and everyone with a Taurus influence in their chart has this work to do. When planets move through the sign Taurus, we all work on this as one. So for now, with Jupiter and Uranus in Taurus, we’re working together as stewards of the earth, finding sustainable community connections and promoting healthy social and economic change.

Aquarius is the steward of the air, and air is about the higher communication and connection between all earthly beings. It’s about the messages that we pass along to each other, from the chemical compounds that trees exchange, to the email messages that humans write. It’s all in the air, and there’s probably a lot more potential for communication that we still haven’t discovered.

So we each have our part to do, and it’s only when we denigrate the work of others that we run into trouble. The Aquarius/Taurus squares of February give us all a chance to integrate earth and air. We need to stay grounded, while still thinking and learning. We need to keep it real, while still envisioning possible changes. We need to experiment with new patterns, but admit that not every experiment is going to work out on the practical level.

In this, the trees are our teachers. Like them, we need to stretch between earth and air, recognizing that there is room for everyone’s work in this world.  

January 2024

So far 2024 hasn’t felt that different to me. We have family with us, a full apartment, but that’s a frequent thing for us during the holidays. And as usual at this time of year, I’m a little pensive. The beginning of the year always gives me the urge to write everything down, to document my life as it swiftly passes by, to make sense of it.

When you’re close to the changes, you can miss them. It all seems normal right now, but I know this will be a year of change for me, since we plan to pick up all our objects and move south in the fall. We’ll be moving closer to some of the people we love, farther away from others, so of course, I’m already experiencing lots of mixed feelings.

And it’s not just a year of change for me. This year is the cusp of a global change. It will be one of those years that people look back on, and say, “That’s when it began…”

Pluto enters Aquarius on January 20, the same day that the sun makes its annual entrance into Aquarius. It’s rather like the sun-goddess escorting the Lady of the Underworld into the light, telling her, “Now you can show everybody how much power you have.” Pluto is the planet of underlying power, nuclear fusion, deep tremors, buried force, unconscious desires, and the relentless push of global evolution. The sun will only spend a few days near Pluto, but it’s still quite an entrance.

Pluto’s new sign represents a new era, lasting through the next twenty years – although it won’t fully express itself until the children born under Pluto in Aquarius grow up. When they do, we’re going to see a lot of new young geniuses, growing from the seeds we start sowing now, in 2024. These seeds are ideas that have never been tested, new inventions that are still clunky and primitive, theories and technologies that have the potential to change the way we live and relate to each other.

Aquarius is the zodiacal sign most dedicated to truth and knowledge, so we’re ushering in a period in which education becomes more meaningful and widespread. We are definitely already seeing this in a world linked by Google and Wikipedia. At the same time, we’ve had Neptune in Pisces, the most fanciful and credulous sign in the zodiac, so often the available information is bent to conform to the wildest outreaches of the human imagination. This will continue to be an influence in 2024, since Neptune doesn’t leave Pisces for a couple more years. But with Pluto in Aquarius, the glare of rational thought will be much brighter than it’s been.

As an air sign, Aquarius is not about what’s practical or expedient. It’s intellectually radical, so there’s going to be even more arguing about which theories represent the truth. It’s an idealistic sign, a sign of principles and abstractions. There will be a stronger focus on groups, communities, circles, educational cohorts, gangs, unions, and political parties. Everyone will be looking for other people with whom to bond, and within each group, there will be an emphasis on shared ideas. At the same time, progressive ideas about personal freedom, diversity, and equality will abound, so we’ll see fewer stereotypes and less conformity.

The main danger of Pluto in Aquarius will be that people could become overly zealous about their pet theories, taking experimental approaches that ignore human nature. In 2024, there are still some factors that guard against that. Uranus will be in Taurus all year, and Jupiter will be in this fixed earth sign as well for the first half of the year. This slows down the radical element, giving more emphasis to what is practical, fundamental, time-tested, and earth-oriented.

In January, the predominant element is earth all through the month, so we aren’t going to be flung headlong into the brilliant new city of the future. We’ll have some time to figure out what we want to do with these new energies, and what kind of world we want to make. It’s a good idea to start thinking about it, since all of us will have a hand in creating it. Yes, we’re going to be doing this together.

December 2023

Here it is, the last month of the year. The tree outside my window has shed most of its leaves, and now I can see the people walking by on the sidewalk below our apartment. The heat is cranking away, and I’ve dug my sweaters out, but it’s still hard to keep warm.

There’s work to finish, and I’ve got eye surgery coming up as well. I’m nervous about it, but I’m trying to see it as a gift of clarity for my aging eyes. Then we’ll have houseguests for the holidays, and then the winter solstice, and a ritual with other pagans. The month will end with the usual clinking of champagne glasses, and a small plate with twelve grapes to insure luck in the new year. 

Pluto is doing its farewell tour, since it will be changing signs in January of 2024. Not just a new year, but a new era is coming into being. This is the time to look back on the Pluto-in-Capricorn era, which was a hard-scrabble time for many. It started with the effort to patch up the economy, after the financial crisis of 2008. People lost their savings, slipped down an economic rung, and had to say goodbye to cherished dreams.

Everybody got real. Occupy Wall Street came along, calling everybody’s attention to the wide income disparities in the US, and that was an important part of getting real.

The Affordable Care Act, the most comprehensive and important achievement of the Obama administration, was passed. But those years also brought startling polarities, as there was an intense backlash to Obama’s presidency. Trump’s presidency was a shock to all the people who thought we were moving smoothly along a progressive historical curve. It was evidence of the rot at the heart of the country. During these years, the 1619 Project and the video evidence of ongoing police brutality have also been strong doses of reality for liberal-leaning white people like me.  

So it’s been real, folks, but now let’s get on to the next thing. Pluto will be moving into a truly progressive sign, Aquarius, and we can hope that this will be reflected in a better world, in which diverse voices can shape a new approach to public policy. One thing we know for sure – Pluto in Aquarius will bring a lot of meetings, forums, and new social and political groups. People will be getting together, talking and listening, and working out plans to make this a better world.

So what else can we expect from December, besides Pluto in Capricorn’s farewell tour? Mercury will be retrograde all through the last half of the month, from December 13 on. It will be in the earth sign Capricorn, so it will also encourage us to take a responsible, serious, realistic approach. A retrograde Mercury points us towards the past, so that we can learn from our mistakes, revise our beliefs, and throw out whatever hasn’t worked for us. It’s only after December 23 that Mercury backtracks into the more cheerful and hedonistic sign Sagittarius, so some folks will get a little merrier just before Christmas.

All the outer planets are in earth and water signs right now, and that can give a stronger urge to hibernate. Earth is cautious and pragmatic, focused mainly on what’s on hand, what’s necessary for survival. Water is sensitive and intuitive, paying most attention to the mysterious emotional realm. Neither gives a strong desire to go out and battle the dragons of our time.

In December, Venus will be moving through watery Scorpio, the most intense and introspective of the water signs. Scorpio is a sign that mostly just wants to stay prone, all wrapped up in the bedclothes, with her lover close by. A Scorpio that I know has often said that everything worth doing can be done in bed – although Scorpio is the most secretive of signs, so more details were not forthcoming.  

And so during this wintery December, you may have to be prodded into action.  But some energy comes from the sun, in fiery Sagittarius until the winter solstice. And Mars is in Sagittarius all through December, so that should get us up and moving, at least once in a while. Sagittarius is the sign of travel, adventure, and new horizons. So some of you will make it out of your cocoons and run off to the other side of the globe.

Mars and the sun in Sagittarius do have some hard aspects, so being a free spirit has its costs. Both of them butt up against solid, unchanging Taurus planets, and that could mean economic factors keep you from taking to the open road. Both also square Neptune – the sun around the middle of the month, and Mars during the last week of December. This could give a tendency to get lost, so make sure you have a compass if you’re climbing around in the Himalayas.

After the solstice, when the sun is in Capricorn, it makes more harmonious aspects. So things get easier when you just settle down, make your peace with the traditions of the moment, and spend your time thinking about the past. What are you willing to say goodbye to, as the year changes, and as the stage is set for a new era? What visions of the future are dancing in your head?

November 2023

I just filled out my ballot for the City of Rockville election. To vote in this election is no big thing, but I do have to take it seriously enough to do a little research. One of the people running for city council goes to my church, so I know and like her. For the others, I read what they write, and I make educated guesses. I appreciate this diverse, multicultural community, and I feel at home here. I’m part of the quilt of community.

During this last month, I was part of creating an actual quilt, up in Ithaca, NY, with my oldest friends.  In the 60s, the six of us all went to the Bangkok Patana School (which used to be tiny, and is now much bigger). We’ve stayed in touch for more than sixty years, and every time one of us has a first grandchild, we get together to create a quilt for that child. Only one of us is a quilting maestro, but she is patient enough to teach us all.

As we get older, these reunions get more emotional. Getting together is harder, and we worry about each other’s health problems.  At the same time, the added challenges add a quality of sweetness to the week we spend together. We know this won’t last forever. We hope the love we put into these quilts will hold us all, when the day comes that our bodies no longer do.

This is the time of year when everyone has a stronger sense of mortality, as we come into the darkening of the year. Yesterday was Samhain, and I joined a bunch of my fellow witches, druids, and other pagans, feeding pinecones to a fire and watching our fears burn away. Tomorrow will be All Soul’s Day, and my wife and I will watch the movie Coco, drink hot chocolate, remember her grandmother (who was there the first time we watched this movie), and shed some tears.

All these rituals – voting, quilting, building fires, sharing tears – help us to manage the sense of encroaching night that comes at this time of year. This darker time of year is sacred, but it’s also a bit terrifying, like death itself. When you can’t see everything with your eyes, you have to get in touch with your other senses.

Astrologically, November 2023 is dramatic, full of planets in fixed signs opposing each other. It’s not a peaceful month. There’s shock and displacement, death and destruction going on these days in Palestine and Israel, and this is on top of the other fight for survival in the Ukraine. This is a month in which we humans are faced with our shadow sides – our fear of the Other, our old angers and weathered traumas.

There’s also beauty in November, though. On November 3, the planets form a perfect six-pointed star, a configuration that I’ve only seen twice before, in all the hundreds of charts I’ve looked at. This means that six planets are all equidistant from each other, forming two interlocking Great Trines.   

At the same time, as beautiful as this configuration is, it’s also composed of three separate oppositions. Oppositions show energies that struggle with each other, seesawing between one extreme and the other, playing out mutually exclusive scenarios, until they finally find some way to maintain a balance.  With these configurations, there is no peace until both sides are acknowledged and given space to express themselves. What would that look in the Middle East today? What would it look like in the US, in our extremely polarized political atmosphere?

And what does it look like in your life?  What are the opposites that are staring each other down, waiting to see who blinks first? Is one side living in the dark, and the other in the light? Sometimes a ritual can help with this. Sometimes it can provide a pathway in the dark, helping you to reach that space in the center, where all opposites come together.

October 2023

I just came back from Outrageous Voices, a lesbian writers’ retreat in Georgia. This small gathering, which happens twice a year, feeds my heart and inspires me as a writer.   

Being around other lesbians, I feel a deep sense of kinship. At the same time, it stretches me to be around folks who think about gender and attraction issues, and who name themselves in different ways.  It’s an inclusive retreat, so all personal pronouns find a home there. We have the magic of lesbian community, without having to fight each other about definitions, and that gives us more time to write and to listen to each other’s writing. That’s what it’s all about.  

This is not a new gathering, but it’s gone through some changes, including a change of name in the last few years. As a group, we’ve wrestled with identity questions, and we lost some folks who felt differently about the inclusivity question. Then, of course, there was the pandemic. Throughout all of it, organizing has been an ongoing creative process.

Lesbians have always been in the forefront of radical new forms of organizing, but that’s not to say that it’s easy. There’s been lots of trial and error, in all the lesbian communities and organizations that I’ve known. Working together to make something happen requires diplomacy, patience, and a willingness to listen to the needs and feelings of others. Hmm, sounds like something that Congress could use.

I got home a couple of days ago, in the first new days of October, with the debt-ceiling crisis resolved in the nick of time. Then, as I started to write, I heard the news that Kevin McCarthy has been ousted as Speaker of the House. Congress is in disarray, with the small group of hard-right Republicans convinced that they can unilaterally run things.  They’re followers of Trump, who seems like a success story to them. Even though he’s got legal troubles up the wazoo, he’s still pulling in donations by the bucketful.

After this fractious beginning, October will probably be a turbulent month. All the inner planets are on one side of the sky, and all the outer planets on the other, so it’s a month of polarities. It’s punctuated by hard aspects between the inner planets and the outer planets.  

The inner planets are about our small daily movements, our individual connections with each other, our personal thoughts and longings. The outer planets reflect larger community trends, involving masses of people. So, on the one hand, we all want to focus on our everyday concerns, but on the other hand, we’re also conscious of larger movements which can sometimes overwhelm us. Very few of us are immediately affected by what’s going on in Congress, but in the long term, it can dramatically change the landscape we live in.

We also see this in the Supreme Court, which seems to exist in a faraway realm. However, it was the Supreme Court that granted gay people the right to marry, and it has meant a much safer and happier life for me and my wife. Of course, we’d be living together, loving each other, without this right, as we were before it happened. But when a law changes, the template for social interaction shifts. Most people are a little startled by this at first, but then get used to it.

Now the Supreme Court is about to start a new term, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in danger. This agency has been a 15-year success story, returning billions of dollars to people who have been defrauded by financial institutions. And of course, it’s an agency that many of these institutions hate, since it’s all about keeping them honest. And we all know that the current Supreme Court cozies up to the rich, sometimes not just figuratively. (Yes, we see you lounging on that yacht deck, Clarence!)  

Right now, the CFPB has a steady source of funding, but a lower court has decided that this is unconstitutional, and that Congress should regularly squabble over it instead, as it does for so many other things. If this changes, it will become part of the budget logjam, and it probably won’t survive long. Worse, the Court could also decide to screw around with funding for Medicare and Social Security, since they’re also currently outside the grasp of Congress. Right-wingers would leap at the chance to have these programs in their hot little hands, in order to hold them for ransom.  

So, yes, October looks like a month of change. Besides the polarized planet arrangement, there are two eclipses this month. On October 14, a solar eclipse begins the new lunar cycle, and on October 28, the lunar cycle culminates in a lunar eclipse.  Eclipses represent times when destiny steps in and rearranges things in definite and startling ways. For people with important planets aspecting the eclipse degrees (21° of cardinal signs, and 5° of fixed signs), it can be dramatic. For most of us, it’s more subtle, an important inner shift. This could be a spiritual revelation, or a burst of creative inspiration. It could also be a period of doubt and confusion, which won’t be resolved until new ways of thinking are explored.   

Beyond the speed-bump of the Speaker’s removal, we may see bigger changes in US government this month. In the US chart, the eclipses occur in the houses which correspond to the Executive branch (the 10th) and the Legislative branch (the 11th). We could also see dramatic turns in corporate structures, in grassroots movements, and in education. And because of the way the planets are arranged, you have this see-saw effect, in which things tilt one way and then the opposite way, keeping everyone a little unbalanced.

It’s a polarized time, and the planets reflect this. But standoffs are generally resolved, one way or another, and things start to move again. Of course, it’s easier when people have a unified goal – such as getting an eclectic group of lesbians together to share their writing. But what goals do the right-wingers in the US government have, besides the thrill of personal power and prestige?  Well, there’s always the wistful desire to move back in time, to the days when white men were the center of the universe.     

This is not a particularly idealistic time, though the sun and Mercury are in the idealistic and litigious sign Libra throughout most of the month. Still, three of the outer planets are in more conservative signs, and so there’s a solid preference for the old ways, however this is perceived. This could work against the more flamboyant right-wingers in Congress, and it would make me happy to see Gaetz expelled by his own party.  But we’ll see.

My advice to all those folks in Congress would be to get comfortable with change. But I know this is hard to do. Change and comfort are always glaring at each other across a room, always feinting for power and position. For myself, I’ve learned that organizing work with other people builds trust. And that makes it possible to cross that room, to shake hands with whoever is on the other side.    

September 2023

September is a month of retrogrades. Mercury is retrograde during the first half of the month, and Venus is just coming off her six-week retrograde cycle and still moving slowly. All the outer planets are retrograde.

What does this mean? It’s a time when going forward isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s pretty much impossible. Instead, we pause, reflect, catch up with ourselves, look over our shoulders, sift through our memories. We see the results of past endeavors. We correct past mistakes. We clean up the excesses from the past.  We tidy up messes we’ve made. We recover whatever we’ve forgotten, ignored, or denied, and finally own it.  

Yes, there are a few frustrations. Some exciting new plans are put on hold, for now. You can’t put down a new rug until you sweep the floor. You can’t wear that pretty necklace until you untangle the chain.  You can’t plan a family visit until you answer those letters from your aunts. There are new beginnings that have to be put on hold, waiting until you’ve paved the way for them.

But it can also be a relief to finally get to the things you’ve put off, some of them for years. Life can become clearer, more streamlined, less complicated, when you finally put checkmarks on the things that have haunted your to-do lists.   

The strong earthy emphasis of September helps, when it comes to cleaning everything up. Three of the outer planets are moving through earth signs (Taurus and Capricorn), while Mercury is in Virgo all month. The sun will be in Virgo until September 23. These earth signs are pragmatic, realistic, focused on the material and the mundane. We’re more grounded now, more cautious, aware of the slow inevitability of the earth’s cycles, conscious of our own cycles of growth and aging.  

Virgo is all about systems and order. Many folks are feeling a strong urge to declutter their spaces, give away their old books and DVDs, sort out their files, and organize their daily lives. My wife and I did this last year when we moved, but it’s an ongoing process. Every day I see odd extraneous objects, things I’ve held onto for no good reason.

An earthy emphasis also encourages people to get outside and commune with the natural world. Everyone is pruning, mowing, picking up trash, shoveling compost, deadheading flowers, sorting out indigenous from invasive species, passing around tips on how to encourage good bugs rather than bad ones. And people are out hiking, birding, picking wildflowers and mushrooms, mountain-climbing, and stargazing. All these activities bring a sense of rootedness, contributing to a peaceful and patient mind.  

My wife and I are urban dwellers, but we find ourselves often out in the town square, just enjoying the warmth of late summer, and the tribal sense that comes from being around others. On nice days, everyone else is out too, and we look around and see people of all ages, an ongoing parade of the human life cycle. I see myself reflected at all the ages I’ve been in my life, and all the ages I’ll ever be.

September is the last month of summer, and it’s also the last month of the government’s fiscal year, so it’s now up to Congress to pass some funding bills. As we’ve seen in the past, there’s a tight knot of extremist Republicans pushing their agenda and agitating for a shutdown. Their way of handling all this retrograde energy is to try to send us back to an earlier era when bigotry and misogyny were more socially acceptable.   

Mars is currently moving through Libra, which tends towards legal wrangling. It encourages people to advocate fiercely for strongly held principles. This is often a good thing, and among the figures with Mars in Libra are Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Louis Armstrong, Lenny Bruce, Abbie Hoffman, Larry Kramer, Malala Yousafzai, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Libra is a sign of peace, but often peace requires struggle. When things aren’t in balance, harmony isn’t possible.  

However, the righteous sense of justice given by Mars in Libra doesn’t necessarily attach itself to progressive causes. Joseph McCarthy and Margaret Thatcher also come to mind, and they certainly fought for their ideas, cruel ones from my point of view.

So the most conservative members of Congress could stick relentlessly to their principles. From what I’ve heard, some of the more cultish and manic Republicans are trying to tie rescue efforts for Trump into the government funding bill. They talk about the weaponization of the Justice Department, and this is really ironic since many of them are weapon fetishists who don’t want any controls on actual guns. For some reason, trying to overthrow democracy isn’t as serious to them as indicting a political figure in the middle of a campaign.

October looks even more litigious than September, with the Libra influence stronger. And if none of the bills for government funding are passed, the compost could hit the fan on October 1, and that definitely won’t alleviate any heat waves. Early October is also when Trump goes on trial in a civil lawsuit involving business fraud, in NYC. No astrological prowess is needed to predict that he’ll lose, since he almost always loses in court, but that could just inflame his minions.   

However, in September, the pragmatism of all those earthy planets could prevail, and this could cool things down a little. This could mean ending up with a Continuing Resolution which will just punt the problem a little further down the road. In September, there are also a lot of harmonious connections between earthy planets, with the sun and Mercury making trines to Jupiter, Uranus and Pluto in the course of the month. This encourages communication, a broader vision of what’s possible, and greater community awareness.

Maybe all those rowdy right-wing Representatives will be swayed by an outpouring of public sentiment about shutting down the government. On the other hand, these are the people who elected these idiots in the first place!  I can only hope that the earthy harmonies of September will soften the ground for compromise, pragmatic deal-making, and ultimately, resolution.

At my age, I’ve seen a lot, including political battles that almost exactly mirror the ones going on now. I’ve also seen the trees get lush and then lose their leaves, year after year. Guess which process strikes me as more important? So I plan to spend September finishing things, and looking around at my own small sphere of influence. A better world expands outwards, starting at my own two feet.  

August 2023

I’m late in writing my monthly column, and that’s mainly because my wife and I both encountered that mean old virus, Covid, in late July. All those fraught pandemic years, we managed to avoid it, but as soon as we let our guard down a little, it swooped in. So we were laid low for about a week, and gradually straggling upward for another week.  

I realize that it’s easy to anthropomorphize the virus after seeing it depicted as a little red bristly guy on all the TV news shows. But sometimes it feels like an alien species is slowly but surely taking over this planet. Perhaps the famous Covid brain fog is actually the process of rewiring our minds, in some fundamental but not immediately decipherable way?

Is this paranoia?  All I know is that the universe contains more mysteries than I’ll ever know.  Viruses themselves are strange. They’re the most abundant form of life in our world, and yet they can’t reproduce by themselves. They’re hitchhikers, sky-riders, agents of change.   

Change is a keyword in August, as the new moon of August 16 features a tight square with Uranus, planet of electric shocks.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll get hit by lightning in August, although I wouldn’t recommend going out and flying a kite in a thunderstorm. But it does mean that some things may change rather suddenly in your world. Change isn’t necessarily bad, as it makes space for new creative constructions. But even welcome changes have costs, so you may need to take some time and energy adjusting to what’s new.

Uranus is currently in the fixed earth sign Taurus, and that shows the most dramatic changes occur in things that were previously pretty stable. The severe shifts in the ecosystem are a case in point.  We’ve seen the hottest days ever recorded so far in August. With the constant variations in the climate, farmers and agricultural works are stymied, not knowing what to expect next. The weather has always been a bit capricious, but now you could say it’s entering a bipolar phase. This could be because the earth can no longer count on her poles to cool her down.

Currencies are also becoming more volatile, and will continue so in August. At the same time, the innovative energy of Uranus could be harnessed to figure out something better than our current economic system. Many of us can imagine much better ways of trading and distributing our energy.

It’s a month of earth energy, and this slows down the pace of change. Earth signs are practical, grounded, moderate in tone, so even when unexpected things happen, the response may be very measured and conservative. There may be some dramatic and noticeable cracks in our basic systems, but still, this doesn’t look like a revolutionary month. Major changes can be quiet though, like the nuclear fusion experiment in California that created more energy than it used, for the first time. Can you imagine what our world could be like with a clean and abundant energy source?

Although the sun won’t enter the earth sign Virgo until August 23, Mercury and Mars will be there all month, and so thought and action will be channeled along earthy lines. Virgo is especially focused on fixing, healing, mending, and correcting. It’s the sign that is most likely to notice what’s wrong, and to feel a little itchy until it can do something to make things better. People with a lot of Virgo planets are often the nags, the fussy ones, but they are also the ones who notice problems when they are still small, and who work hard to find practical solutions.

Virgo is all about systems, both organic and inorganic. It’s especially tied to health – both the inner process of maintaining health, and the social organization of heath care. From what I hear, more people are catching Covid these days. It wasn’t just us. So, for many folks, August will be about dealing with this new wave, and finding ways to stay healthy and to keep others healthy.     

There’s quite a lot of retrograde energy in August, and that’s conducive to considering the things that we previously took for granted. All though August, Venus is retrograde. It’s in the fiery, expressive sign Leo, so there could be lots of drama and declarations of love, but all this passionate energy doesn’t necessarily change the underlying dynamic. If it’s working, it will keep working. If it isn’t, there may be a lot of fizzing and sparking but no real flow. A retrograde Venus gives a chance to examine the underlying structure of a relationship, but real change may not happen until she goes direct again on September 3.

Mercury moves slowly this month, and then it also retrogrades (on August 23), giving even more opportunities to re-examine past decisions.  Around the time that Mercury changes direction, there could be the usual snafus relating to communication, transportation, and logistics. However, at that time, Mercury is close to a trine of Uranus, and so we all have access to some exciting creative energy. When ordinary systems break down, extraordinary systems can be invented.  

And so, yes, we’ve been invaded. All life forms are constantly invaded by viruses, and they all come bringing change. And if our minds are being rewired by Covid, maybe we could come up with some brilliant new economic models, or ways to effectively deal with climate change before it’s too late. Of course, when the pandemic started, we stopped doing everything we normally do, and then started working out new ways to do it. We haven’t yet had time to consider the effects, the changes in ourselves and in our society, and August will be a good month to do that. What have we learned?  

July 2023

Summer has arrived in the metro DC area. After a cool spring, it’s now muggy and overcast, with toxic air continuing to waft down from the Canadian wildfires. This morning, I read in the Post that July 4 was the hottest day on record ever. Apparently, the last time it was this hot, we were living in caves (which would’ve been a bit easier to air-condition).    

The heat inspires a certain lethargy. People resist going outside, and when they do, they move slowly. Everything seems to be crawling along, or sometimes just going nowhere fast.

Venus is moving especially slowly these days, because she’s about to move into the retrograde part of her cycle. On July 22, at 9:32 pm EDT, she’ll reverse direction for the next six weeks. During this time, there’s a retro quality to everything related to Venus  – love, romance, pleasure, art, beauty, decoration, entertainment, friendship, and social life. You may find yourself picking up old hobbies, looking at old paintings, refurbishing your old hats, and calling up old friends.

Venus is in Leo, a warm, affectionate, flamboyant, and dramatic sign. This is the Venus sign of many women famed for their gorgeousness (like Angela Bassett, Lauren Bacall, Salma Hayek, Kathleen Turner, Gina Lollobrigida, and Whitney Houston).  More than beauty, Venus in Leo gives a magnetic quality, a palpable excitement.  When Venus in Leo goes retrograde, it doesn’t lose all that warmth and charisma, but the energy is more diffuse, less focused.  

So the thrill of Venus in Leo will still be around, but all that bright energy could be pointed in the wrong direction. That can mean falling in love with someone who’s all wrong for you, someone who looks like one thing but acts like something else. A retrograde Venus can also mean going back and rekindling love affairs that are part of your past, even if you outgrew them long ago.  If you fall into a romantic trance while Venus is retrograde, you’re likely to throw off the spell quite soon after it goes direct in early September. But meanwhile, you could alarm your friends and possibly get into embarrassing situations.

If you’re single and looking for love, it’s best not to dedicate a lot of energy to this quest during Venus’ retrograde phase. If you manage to avoid all the duds, and do meet someone promising, the relationship could slow down to a crawl until Venus is direct again. This isn’t all bad;  it gives you time to figure out if this is really the person for you.

If you’re already in a relationship, things will probably proceed calmly, maybe more calmly than you like. Do you usually look for drama? Are you always trying to change yourself, or your lover? This is a good time to think this through. Is change really necessary? Have you ever thought about just relaxing and enjoying the human beings who are nearby?  

Sure, it can be frustrating, when Venus is retrograde, and the drive for pleasure can get short-circuited. Events get cancelled, or postponed, and social scenes seem to dissolve. This gives you time to consider your social life, and what it really does for you. What really makes you happy? Sometimes Venus retrograde can alert you to an addiction, a pleasure that isn’t good for you, or something that isn’t as sweet as it once was.    

There are other retrograde planets during July as well – mainly Saturn, Neptune and Pluto –  and so you could experience some déjà vu in other areas. When outer planets retrograde, they go back and revisit previous aspects, pounding in lessons that weren’t learned the first time around. So you have to go back and deal with challenges that you’ve experienced before. Sometimes it’s about facing reality, when Saturn reprises its earlier aspects. Sometimes it’s about power and boundaries, when it’s Pluto. Sometimes it’s about sorting out illusions, when it’s Neptune.  

This is a threshold month. Pluto is back in Capricorn, but it’s at the cusp of this sign.  It’s as if it’s guarding a gate, and every time a planet moves into a new sign, it has to confront Pluto in some way first. And so, whenever you try to get something new going, power issues come up. There are gatekeepers, trying to enforce the old order. They’re sweating, because the new world is announcing itself in lots of ways, and extra heat is just one of them. But for the moment, many of them are still in charge.

But there is also something else important happening in July, an underlying change. Every year and a half, the lunar nodes enter new signs, and this signals a new karmic focus for humanity. The north node indicates the traits that are underdeveloped in this time in history, the ones that we need to embrace in order to grow as a collective consciousness.  It’s ironic that, in order to grow collectively, we need to embrace our individuality.

The north lunar node will be entering Aries, and so during the coming eighteen months, we all need to be brave, pioneering, independent, and willing to break new ground. To me, this indicates that we’ll need to take action on climate change, especially as the adverse effects of inaction sweep over us. We have enough evidence, so it’s time to take a stand, and to stop dragging our feet.

This is a subtle but profound change. July may not be the most romantic month, and it may be too hot to go out and climb mountains. But it could be a time when we discover more about who we are. And this is the beginning of all endeavors.  

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?