In the spirit of the springtime season that’s now touching down around us here in the northeastern US, I’ve decided to run an Astrology special that should help to usher in positivity and fresh growth.
For the next 10 days, until the month of May lands, I’m offering birth-chart interpretation sessions at a full one-third off! This 33% discount means that for a 60-90 minute interaction (by Skype or in person if you’ll be in my geographic area), instead of the usual $75 USD, sessions will cost only $50 USD!
Your birth-chart is a profoundly meaningful document that serves as a sort of wiring diagram of your psyche. Understanding it more fully is a lot like being handed the User’s Manual for your own self. Become better equipped to pitch your efforts in life at being exactly who and what you were truly designed to be, instead of flailing away at things that don’t align with your true nature.
If you’ve been feeling unsatisfied with your lot in life, then a better grasp on your birth-chart may be part of the solution! CONTACT me today to set up your session!
It’s been some season of retrograde activity lately here on Planet Earth. For a moment there, we were toiling under no less than four Planets that, from our ground-bound perspective, looked to be traveling backwards through space. A few days ago, on the 15th, Venus halted her retrograde ways and returned to more standard direct (= “forward”) motion, but that still leaves us with Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn all seeming to backtrack along their usual orbital pathways.
And two days from now, on the 20th of April, cold, dark Pluto will join them.
So what does it mean when a Planet named for the Lord of the Underworld seems to cease its creeping progress around the Sun and then roll backwards…?
As you may know, astrologers generally tend to describe retrograde periods as times when the energies symbolized by the Planet in question will be more likely to manifest in our inner worlds rather than as concrete developments out in our external consensus reality as they normally might.
In the case of Pluto, we’re often talking about deep, often long-buried psychological material emerging into the light. This can be a terrifying sort of occurrence, but it can also ultimately be very healing and empowering. Keeping a secret can often enslave us to that secrecy, and it can be profoundly liberating to expose such hidden material. Doing so then frees up all of the bandwidth that had been dedicated to preserving the secrecy.
And it’s important to note that when Pluto gets active, the secrets in question can be of the deliberately and consciously kept variety, or they might be things that are hidden even from the person doing the hiding. Humans can display astonishing powers of denial and suppression. Sometimes this happens due to concerns revolving around self-protection: for example, someone might suppress memories of traumatic experiences simply so they can continue to function in the wake of the trauma. At other times, people can bury thoughts, emotions, and memories in the depths of their psyches due to triggering pressures such as guilt, fear, shame, or doubt. Might it not be better in the long run, though, to deal with such issues in a conscious manner rather than letting them fester in the darkness, where hidden things tend to patiently bide their time, while growing in potency and influence…?
It’s very often true that when we don’t deal with our issues…our issues deal with us. And when they do, at times and places of their choosing, it’s a pretty safe bet that we won’t enjoy the results.
In addition to “hidden stuff” in general, Pluto can also symbolize intense power dynamics, transformation, intensity, issues in the realm of sexuality, and at times, great wealth.
So when Pluto turns retrograde, we enter intervals of time during which all of these themes may turn inward. We may be invited to descend into our own internal Underworlds, and confront our own inner demons. We may have to face parts of ourselves that we fear or despise. We may need to identify self-imposed blockages and other unhelpful programming that we’ve taken on over the years. We might have to come to terms with certain threads of darkness that lie within us. It’s also possible that this is an opportunity to acknowledge and embrace aspects of our own power that we’ve been denying or avoiding. In some cases, this might even be a chance to bring about some remarkable transformation within ourselves.
But whether the overall effect is one we might label “positive” or “negative,” Plutonian events are generally going to feel heavy, stark, intense, and often frightening. Taking an active hand in their development, or at least recognizing their approach and bracing for them, can be helpful techniques in dealing with them.
And as always, it’s a good idea to see where the event is occurring as related to your own birth-chart. This Pluto retrograde will be happening at about 19 degrees into Capricorn. Do you have anything at or near that location in your chart? Or do you have anything at around the 19 degree mark in any of the other Cardinal Signs (= Aries, Cancer, Libra)? These are the places where this particular event will deliver its strongest impact. Also, if Pluto is naturally strong in your chart, this retrograde may make itself felt in your life.
Pluto moves very slowly as compared with the other Planets in our solar system, so its retrograde periods last for some time. This one will remain in effect until September 28th. Until then, it may be good policy to tune in to your own internal worlds. Meditation, recording your dreams, various forms of therapy, shamanic practices, and naked honesty with yourself about yourself may all prove to be helpful tools in navigating this particular retrograde period.
It’s not always possible to avoid being caught in the darkness…so maybe view this interval as an opportunity for gaining some skill at navigating within it.
It seems to be retrograde season for us down here on Planet Earth, what with Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn all appearing to be moonwalking back along their orbital pathways, and Pluto poised to join them five days from now.
But if you’re the type who fears retrogrades in general, it may be comforting to you to know that today marks the occasion of Venus – which has also been in retrograde motion for the last six weeks or so – stationing direct. “Stationing direct” is the astrologer’s way of saying “That Planet that looked like it was moving backwards is now knocking that off, and returning to good old, regular, forward-style motion.”
In general, retrograde periods are believed to mark intervals during which the energies symbolized by the Planet in question may act in unusual fashion, they can seem to dredge up people and lessons from out of the past, and they can tend to make themselves felt more on our inner landscapes than out in the external world.
With Venus being retrograde, relationships can conceivably take some hits. Person-to-person connections both romantic and platonic can experience short-circuits. Old lovers, old friends, and other former acquaintances can pop up unexpectedly. We can also be called to work on things we’ve been getting wrong with respect to our relationships with ourselves.
But today, Venus appears to us on Earth to be ceasing her backwards trajectory, and returning to forward, direct motion.
As always, I counsel a good, hard look at your own chart to see if this event will have noticeable consequences in your own life. Venus turns direct at the 27-degree mark of Pisces. Do you have any Planets or meaningful Points (Ascendant, Lunar Nodes, etc.) at that location in your own chart? Do you have anything placed at the corresponding spot in any of the other Mutable Signs (Gemini, Virgo, and Sagittarius)? Is Venus one of the more influential Planets in your chart overall…?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then this may be a meaningful occurrence for you.
And if this direct station does make itself known in your life, the results can take on many forms. Your relationships may seem to iron out some of their own wrinkles for you all of a sudden. They may become busier and/or more positive and agreeable in the external world, while some of the soul-searching about interpersonal bonds and self-love may fade a bit in priority.
That all sounds pretty good…but here’s a note of caution… As Venus stations direct, she’s doing so in a spot that forms a strong and somewhat friction-heavy link with Saturn. This link is called a square – squares form between Planets and Points that are 90 degrees or so apart – and they can be powerful connections that seem to give rise to corresponding real world events. And to be honest, Saturn isn’t exactly warm and cuddly by nature even when it makes more user-friendly connections with other Planets!
So what does this mean…?
No guarantees, but for the next two weeks(-ish), even though Venus returns to direct motion, our relationships may all undergo some testing and tempering. Saturn operates much like a keen and tireless auditor combing through your financial records in a search for mistakes. Saturn is kind of cold and rather merciless, and is entirely without sentiment.
The good news is that if you’ve done the work properly in the area that falls under Saturn’s influence, then you’ll have nothing to fear, and you may even reap some rewards and gain greatly in self-confidence in that area for having achieved “job well done” status.
The less good news, though, is that if you haven’t done the work properly when Saturn appears, your errors and shortcomings will most likely be exposed, and there will be some damage control and repair work to be performed in the wake of the visit.
Mapping these ideas onto the relationship arena, it looks possible that until the first week of May or thereabouts, our relationships may seem to fall under the sway of that invisible “auditor” force. Stresses and even the occasional crisis may materialize in our relationships, misfires may occur, and we may take a more fatalistic view of our interpersonal bonds than we would normally do. When not handled skillfully and with honor, Saturn can promote feelings of fear, doubt, isolation, and grave seriousness…and with a tight square connection in effect, these feelings become more likely.
In addition to examining your own chart for placements in the last few degrees of the Mutable Signs, it can also be a great exercise to analyze your own recent real world experiences to see if any of the above has felt applicable to your life. Have your relationships been more difficult than usual, or seemed more gloomy, or even doomed? Have you been feeling defeatist about them? And do you feel any differently today, as Venus stations direct? That change won’t totally offset the square with Saturn, but it might be something you do perceive, and it might arguably ease some of the abrasive feeling of that Venus/Saturn square.
If any of this does feel like it applies to you, then do your best to hang on until the square fizzles out in a bit over two weeks. There will always be some new development looming on the astrological horizon, but we and the people in our orbits will probably be relieved when this particular one passes on…
I tend to preach a fair amount about the classical Four Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. I think it’s a really important system in metaphysics that can be extremely helpful in getting a handle on various other symbols.
For example, if you know that two Signs of the Zodiac are both Fire Signs, and you know the basics of what Fire is all about, symbolically-speaking, then you’ll understand that these Fire Signs will share some common traits. They’ll also have their definite differences – Aries is not the same thing as Leo, and neither is interchangeable with Sagittarius – but it’s a fair bet that these Fire Signs will be concerned with the energetic level of existence, and they’ll share themes of a Fire-y nature, such as passion, will, adventure, charisma, possibly anger issues, maybe lust issues of some kind, and the management of life-force itself.
Elemental associations for the Signs are pretty well-known, sometimes even to non-astrologers (they may not know exactly what these associations mean, but it’s not uncommon for a non-astrologer to at least be able to report the fact that their natal Sun lies in, say, a Water Sign…).
Here’s how those associations play out along the Zodiac:
As is usually the case, though, the Houses are less acknowledged and understood. Just like the Signs of the Zodiac, the 12 Houses are also assigned associations with the Four Elements. You might notice a pattern developing here:
The same sequence of Elements that repeats itself three times over as it runs alongside the Signs – Fire, Earth, Air, Water – does the same exact thing next to the Houses. If you can memorize that F-E-A-W sequence, you’ll have a handy mnemonic device for keeping all of these Elemental associations pinned down…and you’ll also then have a pretty great wellspring of basic meanings to draw from as you do your chart interpretations.
It can be really informative to get a sense of which Elements are emphasized in a given person’s chart, versus which ones are kind of thinly represented.
Heavy emphasis on an Element can indicate great skill with the business of that Element…but it might also flag the possibility of over-reliance on that Element. If you have a platoon of Planets placed in Water Signs and Houses, you might be terrific at the stuff of Water, such as emotions and romance and mystic/psychic phenomena…but you might also tend to be a dreamer, a space cadet, an addictive or escapist type, or a slave to your feelings. And you might have a tendency to try to force everything into a Water-y context, even when that’s not an especially helpful thing to do.
On the flip-side, when an Element is underrepresented in a chart, it can signal a decided unfamiliarity with that layer of life, a discomfort with it, and maybe blind-spots in your ongoing experience of the world. A person with few Water placements at all may have trouble understanding their own emotions or dealing with the emotions of others. This person might also be clueless about romance, or they might lack imagination.
Here’s a simple exercise you can try out so as to see if Elemental analysis resonates for you as a valid technique… Look at your own chart. Make a table, and then tally up your own Planetary placements one at a time. For each Planet you’re tracking, tally its Sign and House Elements. For example, if you have your natal Venus in Cancer in your Eleventh House, then this Planet is in a Water Sign and an Air House. Run through the Planets and record each result. When you’re done, take a look at:
What’s the Elemental breakdown for the Signs in your chart?
What’s the Elemental breakdown for the Houses in your chart?
What’s the Elemental breakdown when you add them all together?
Do the results feel like they map accurately onto the you that you know?
For that last question, just take an honest look at yourself. Say that through this exercise, you discover that your chart shows that you have a preponderance of Air energy and maybe very little Water. A breakdown like that could easily translate to you being very intellectual in your approach to life, while possibly being a bit emotionally detached (that is, you lead with your brain, not your heart). So you’d then need to really examine the question of whether or not that description does accurately apply to you…
You shouldn’t feel pressured to make this the cornerstone of your practice or anything…but working with the Four Elements can add a lot to chart analysis. It can also be especially helpful when you’re in the beginning stages of learning: Astrology is complex, and getting a lock on four symbols (the Elements) is much easier than learning 12 (the Signs), another 12 (the Houses), or all 24 of those at one go.
Yesterday, as you may already know, Mercury went into retrograde (“Rx”) motion. It joined Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, which had already been in retrograde-mode.
As I tend to do whenever a Planet turns retrograde, I began urging people to not just make blanket assumptions about a given Rx event, but to hold each one of these events up to their own birth-charts to see if the event would have any direct impact on anything in those charts. Since several people asked me how exactly you’d go about connecting these dots, I decided to create a post that would set out some of the basics…
The following is slightly oversimplified, but it should get you started on a helpful interpretive path. These are the steps I recommend following in order to see if a given Rx might be personally meaningful for you:
Get a copy of your birth-chart. If you don’t have one, you can generate your chart for free at sites such as Astro.com and Astromatrix.org. I wrote an earlier post on how you go about doing this – that post can be found HERE.
Determine exactly where in the sky the Rx that interests you is happening. You can obtain this info easily enough by simply punching the phrase “Mercury retrograde” (or whichever other Planet has caught your attention if not Mercury) into your favorite search engine, and then look at the date listings provided in any of the resulting hits to find the one you’re seeking. You’ll generally also be able to find the location in the sky of that Rx. As an example, take a look at the accompanying image: it’s showing yesterday’s Mercury Rx as it applies to my own birth-chart. The yellow-colored belt around the outside of the chart is the Zodiac, and each of the subsections of it represents one of the 12 Signs. The little symbols rendered in blank ink around the inside of the belt are the Planets as they were arrayed at the moment of my birth. The same symbols are also rendered around the outside of the Zodiac belt in green ink – these represent the locations of the Planets as they were yesterday (April 9, 2017). The birth-Planets are often referred to as natal Planets, while the ones happening in the present time are called transiting Planets. I circled transiting Mercury for ease of reference, and marked it with the Mercury symbol (☿) and the symbol for “retrograde” (Rx). Mercury stationed retrograde yesterday just a bit before it would have reached the 5-degree mark in Taurus.
Check to see if you have anything placed in your chart at or near the degree where the Rx is taking place. I don’t have much in the way of Taurus placements in my chart, and nothing at or near the 5-degree mark, so at this point, it doesn’t yet appear that this particular Rx will have a ton of personal impact in my world.
Next, it can be informative to see if you have any placements directly opposite the point of the Rx station. In this case, that means that we need to check the chart for any placements at about 5 degrees into Scorpio. Suddenly, this Rx just got personal for me, as my natal Sun (☉) lies extremely close to that position, and my natal Venus (♀) is only a couple of degrees away – I circled these in Scorpio. Oppositional placements like this – when the Planets involved are 180° apart (give or take a few degrees) – can result in some real tension, so this Rx could conceivably lead to challenges to my own sense of self and my vitality (Sun business), and to my relationships, romantic affairs, and serenity (Venus concepts).
In addition to oppositions, checking for square relationships can be illuminating, too. Squares occur when Planets are 90° apart (or thereabouts). We again strike paydirt with respect to yesterday’s Rx hitting my chart, as transiting Mercury was square my natal Jupiter when it stationed retrograde. Squares tend to come infused with a certain amount of friction when they manifest, so they’re often not so enjoyable or user-friendly. Here, I might be looking at a retrograde period in which my attempts at communication, logic, and clarity (Mercury stuff) will tend to frustrate and foil my attempts at growing (Jupiter affairs), and vice versa. I circled Jupiter (♃) in Leo. You want to check for squares in both directions, so look from Taurus to both Leo and Aquarius. As it turns out, I have no placements in Aquarius in my chart, so there are no additional squares for me to worry about with this particular Rx (I circled the empty section of Aquarius just to highlight its emptiness).
You can also take into account questions such as whether Mercury itself is a powerful influence in your own birth-chart – in which case, Mercury Rx occurrences might be more significant for you even when they don’t make direct contact with anything in your chart based solely on position. My own Mercury is in my First House, which placement tends to raise the prominence of a Planet in a chart. I also have a lot of placements in Virgo, which is one of the Signs that Mercury is said to rule, so this further beefs up Mercury’s profile in my chart. I’ve noticed over time that I personally do not feel every Mercury Rx event, though, so this factor may vary in effect from one person to the next (and from one Rx to the next)…although it’s still worth tracking to get a sense of how much it might apply to you and your own chart.
As mentioned above, this post is oversimplifying things a bit simply due to space constraints, but the above guidelines should be enough to get a beginner started on determining whether outright panic is a justifiable response in the face of any given retrograde event. And this month has been offering a wealth of opportunities for practicing exactly this kind of analysis – good luck with the process, and with this heaping helping of Rx activities!
When we crossed the monthly threshold from March into April last week, both Venus and Jupiter were already moving in a fashion we call “retrograde.” And to thicken that plot a bit, no less than three additional Planets will also turn retrograde before the month is out.
“Retrograde” (or “Rx”) in this context means that from our POV here on Planet Earth, it often seems to us that one of the other Planets in our solar system will halt in its forward motion, and then even begin to travel backwards along its own orbital track. This apparent backwards motion is really just an optical illusion, though. We are, after all, hurtling through space while riding atop a rotating sphere, and that sphere’s orbital track is nestled in and among the orbital tracks of other rotating and revolving bodies. Clarity does take the occasional body blow when you’re part of a cosmic kaleidoscope…
So what does all of this retrograde business actually mean…?
The vague consensus among astrologers out there is the idea that when a Planet turns retrograde, its energies and themes will tend to be felt by a given citizen in more of an internal fashion than in the usual external one.
That is, during a Venus retrograde period, for example, all of the people and events that might arguably be coaxed forth into contact with you in the more standard Venus-direct phases, will now simply fail to appear, and most of your work in the areas of relationships and love and beauty will instead be more likely directed at yourself.
So, during Venus Rx, you might be less likely to meet your soul-mate out in the world, and more likely to work on loving your own self, healing your relationship with yourself, finding beauty in yourself… These are the probable tests and opportunities that might be available to you during such a period, anyway – what you do with them is always up to you.
The rest of those retrograde moments this month:
Yesterday, April 6, Saturn turned Rx in Sagittarius.
On April 9, Mercury follows suit, and will appear to do an about-face in Taurus.
Just shy of a week later, on April 15, Venus will “station direct” (= “stop being retrograde/start moving forward again”) in Pisces.
And on 4/20, Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld, will turn retrograde in the middle of Capricorn.
That’s a lot of retrograde action! Rx intervals don’t need to be viewed as “bad,” though, despite the kind of unhappy clamor that wells up across the internet whenever Mercury turns retrograde. Maybe try instead to view the coming weeks as chances to do some strong and restorative inner work.
Love yourself, help yourself to grow, talk to and listen to your core self, do some hard work on yourself with an eye toward honing and streamlining and bettering, and do some deep digging into your own psyche so you can bring forth some of your buried shadow-material, look at it in the light, and transmute it into something positive.
You might also brace yourself for unexpected visits by people and situations from out of the past, as these do have a habit of reappearing during Rx periods. Sometimes you’re afforded chances to fix things that you didn’t ace the first time they came around. April doesn’t have to be the cruelest month – use the retrogrades to your advantage this year, and it can be transformed into a launching pad for greater happiness and fulfillment for the remainder of 2017!
One of the more important concepts in Astrology is the Aspect. These are special geometric relationships that can form between two or more Planets or Points in a chart. They operate sort of like electric circuits, transmitting energy from one end of the circuit to the other, and lighting up anything else that might also be connected.
Just like cards in a Tarot deck, these Aspects get grouped into the two categories of “major” and “minor.” Most astrologers agree that the Conjunction, the Opposition, the Trine, the Square, and the Sextile are the Aspects most deserving of being called major (although some would argue that the Sextile really shouldn’t make this particular cut).
There are also plenty of minor Aspects, and it’s here where the Astro-community seems more likely to disagree about which ones should carry real importance in chart analysis versus which can be safely ignored. The minor Aspects tend to have extra eggheaded-sounding names, such as the Sesquiquadrate, the Semisextile, and the Quincunx.
Interestingly, even free Astrology programs available on the internet seem to include most Aspects from both groups by default when generating charts, even going so far as to render them all — minor Aspects included — graphically in the chart itself, as well as logging entries for them in the accompanying tables.
Except for…the Quintile. While this Aspect does get added to the tallies in those tables, it never seems to get represented by visible lines in the center of the chart along with the rest of the Aspects.
This has never sat well with me. All of the major Aspects can be arrived at by dividing the 360 degrees of the chart-circle by a whole number:
360/1 = 360…two Planets or Points that are 360 degrees apart are actually also 0 degrees apart, which gives us a Conjunction.
360/2 = 180…a 180-degree distance gives us an Opposition.
360/3 = 120…this is the Trine.
360/4 = 90…the Square is a distance of 90 degrees.
360/6 = 60…this is the Sextile.
But wait…what about dividing by 5?
360/5 = 72…this is the Quintile. Dividing by the nice whole number of 5 gives us the equally nice whole number of 72. It doesn’t end neatly in a 0, as the major Aspects’ math results all do, but it also doesn’t have a weird little clump of fractional digits hanging off of its decimal point like a vestigial tail. So why do people not use it?
Contrast with some of the more well-known minor Aspects, which see more play than the Quintile… To arrive at the 150-degree distance embodied by the Quincunx, we have to divide the 360-degree circle by 2.4. How does that make sense? The Sesquiquadrate — a 135-degree distance — requires division of the circle by 2 2/3, and feels less like its own Aspect to me, and more like “a square-and-a-half” (the 90 degrees of a square + the 45 degrees that would comprise half of another Square = 135 degrees).
None of these so-called minor aspects feel as potentially important to me as the Quintile. Why is the Quintile so discounted and under-utilized? Why is it so under the collective radar? I feel certain that it has a lot to tell us…
And so I’m doing a small study on it. If you have some Astrology knowledge (or if you don’t, but you’re brave about very field-specific jargon), and you have one or more tight Quintiles in your chart, then I’ve cooked up a brief questionnaire about Aspects and the Quintile that I’d love to have you fill out! When I ask for “tight” Quintiles, I’m thinking of any that are within about, say, three degrees or so of the exact 72-degree distance that defines what the Quintile is (in other words, if you have a Quintile that’s anywhere from 69 degrees to 75 degrees or thereabouts, then I’d value your responses to the questionnaire).
If you meet that very brief list of qualifications, and you’d like to take part, please amble on over to my CONTACT page, and then drop me a line at the email address there to request a copy of the questionnaire.
Full disclosure: what I do with all of this will be in some part dependent on the volume and quality of the responses I get…