April Is the Retrograde-iest Month…

Venus recently drifted backwards from Aries into Pisces…but what does this mean for us here on Earth…?

…or it feels like it is this year, anyway.

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.

From our spinning, hurtling POV, multiple Planets will appear to turn Rx this month…

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!

Quintiles Questionnaire Query

addison.qOne 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…

Jupiter Opposing the Sun…

IMG_6399Seeds… They’re like little treasure chests full of concentrated life-force. If you take good care of them – if you plant them in good soil, feed them, water them, keep them free of weeds and pests – they will respond with surges in growth and vitality. These two results seem to go hand in hand, and it’s even possible to sometimes think of growth and vitality as being the same thing.

Growth and vitality are not exactly interchangeable synonyms, though. They’re often linked, and each can lead to the other, but they’re not identical.

It’s possible to have an increase in growth without a corresponding increase in vitality: consider what happens when cancer cells begin to grow unchecked in an unwitting host body. In a case like this, there’s mad growth for a while, for sure, but overall vitality in the system takes catastrophic hits, often to terminal degree.

And on the flip-side, it’s also possible to witness a rise in vitality without there necessarily being any new growth. Think here about someone making a strong recovery after some illness or mishap had confined them to bed for some extended period of time. Our hypothetical sufferer bounces back in tandem with a steady rise in vitality…but they don’t start growing simply because they got more lively. No one ever shucked off a full body cast after lying almost dormant in it for 8-10 weeks and then grew a foot taller upon rising to greet the world again.

Which brings us to Jupiter and the Sun.

In Astrology, symbols always have multiple meanings. Each symbol’s meanings are generally related to each other, but it’s virtually impossible to sum up any given Planet or Sign or House with a single keyword, not without leaving a bunch of equally applicable and necessary keywords lying on the cutting room floor. Attempts at this kind of intensive nutshelling can lead to fairly drastic and potentially misleading oversimplification.

So having said that, please allow me to oversimplify anyway…

Among other concepts, Jupiter represents growth. When Jupiter gets activated, things tend to expand.

And then there’s the Sun. Among its allotment of symbolism, the Sun embodies the concept of vitality. Just as the real Sun is the source of all life here on Earth, the astrological Sun stands for anything that causes a spike in our life-force.

Why does any of this matter?

As I write this, it’s a Wednesday – the 5th of April. Out there in our solar system, from our point of view, it appears that Jupiter and the Sun are moving into positions such that this coming Friday, they’ll achieve perfect opposition. That is, if we were to look straight at Jupiter during the next few days, then the Sun would be directly behind us, and blocked from view by the Earth itself. The reverse would also be true: if we were to gaze toward the Sun in the daytime during this period, then Jupiter would be at our backs and screened from us by the bulk of our own Planet even if we were to turn around in a full one-eighty.

An opposition arrangement like this generally tells us that the two opposing Planets’ energies will be making a very strong sort of circuit with each other…but those energies may not integrate all that easily. In the opposition, specifically, the resulting dynamic is often a lot like a seesaw in a schoolyard playground: you can’t lift both ends of it at the same time.

So for the next several days – peaking on Friday and then lasting for a couple of days afterwards – it may be the case that you’ll be furnished with some real opportunity for both growth and vitality. The downside of this is that it may also seem that the two things are mutually exclusive at this time, so you can have one, but not the other.

Oppositions can be frustrating. They can make you feel like you’re stuck in a boat with two big leaks, but only one free hand available for doing any plugging.

With Jupiter tightly opposing the Sun, you may get the sense that attending to your growth will sap your life-force. Is it good to grow if doing so makes you feel sickly?

Or you might feel that working on your vitality and doing whatever energizes and enlivens you right now will undercut your ability to grow. Is it helpful to work on boosting your sense of well-being if that work prevents you from growing?

Another possible effect here is an apparent duel between faith in something greater than us (a Jupiter concept) and faith in ourselves (Sun business). Does embracing one necessarily mean abandoning the other? Not always, no, but it may be difficult during this period to feel any other way, and it may seem that the Universe around us is delivering this message with some vigor, too.

So what can you do when two usually happier and more positive Planets are foiling each other’s efforts to brighten your existence? The trick with most oppositions is to treat them like that schoolyard seesaw: lift first one side, and then the other. Breathe deeply, and repeat. You can’t lift both sides of the seesaw at once, remember…and for the lion’s share of the week ahead, you probably won’ be able to both enjoy growth and to stoke the flames of your life-force at the same time. First work on one…and then tend to the other. Making a conscious effort at doing this may pay large dividends for you.

This particular opposition will remain in effect until around the 11th, when the Full Moon in Libra ushers it offstage with a classy overture. Until then, good luck riding the seesaw!

Neptune Disconnected…

IMG_6396It’s pretty popular in the Astrology world to talk about what’s happening among the Planets out there in our solar system. The idea is that the Planets are very visible indicators of certain invisible forces making themselves felt in our reality. If we can unravel the gist of what’s happening “up there,” then we can also transfer that analysis to the personal level “down here” to make some educated guesses at how these developments might also manifest here on the human scale.

For example, you’ll often hear about which Planets are retrograde, or which ones are moving into new Signs. Some astrologers write excellent columns about the various relationships that materialize and then fade away as the Planets continue making their forever circuits around the Sun, and what these ever-changing connections might mean for us in our daily lives.

And while it can be incredibly beneficial to get some solid astrological evaluation about what’s happening around us on the planetary level, it can also at times prove equally beneficial to take a look at what’s not happening.

Which brings me to Neptune… Named for the Roman God of the Sea, Neptune symbolizes our drives toward the mystical, the cosmic, and the spiritual. Neptune is about consciousness and transcendence, and our relationship with whatever it is that each of us might privately label “The Divine.”

You can definitely find plenty to talk about in a chart cast for this particular moment in time – several retrogrades are happening, and there are some interesting Aspects and configurations out there, like that Jupiter/Uranus/Pluto T-Square that’s been raining down power surges and bursts of weirdness for weeks now. You may also notice, though, that behind all that oddness and intensity, Neptune is pretty well detached from the planetary mix right about now. It’s not lined up in any kind of noteworthy way with a single other Planet in the system. It’s diving deep into the waters of Pisces, the Sign that most shares its dreamy, contemplative vibe, and the rest of the Planets seem content to let it submerge there as it will without any interference.

Now, this kind of occurrence, this “Planet in the penalty box” deal, isn’t so rare a thing that we all need to quit our jobs and prepare for a Rapture-level event…but it’s worth pondering for a minute or three. All Planets do go through periods like this, when the peculiarities of differing orbital velocities take one of them into a “time out” sort of moment in some semi-disconnected patch of sky…but what do these periods mean? The presences of strong Aspects generate the overwhelming majority of astrological discussions, it seems. But what do their absences say…?

In this case, I have to wonder if the message might be that we’re moving through an interval during which our access to our own spiritualities might have fallen into a bit of a blind spot. More than usual, we may be required to make a conscious effort to connect with our inner mystics, to remember that there’s more to life than what occurs on the material plane, and that our relationships with “something Higher” are as important as the ones we maintain with other physical beings down here below in consensus reality. More than ever, this might be a terrific time for putting energy into meditation or that yoga practice or working on that dream journal. Being in the here/now moment, and reminding ourselves to keep putting that intuitive right-brain to work could be in order.

All things of course must pass, and if you just wait a few days, some of the quicker Planets will change location enough to forge new energy-bridges with Neptune. Until then, though, life may tend to take on a decidedly unspiritual tone…unless you step in and actively lend it a helpful nudge back toward the mystical. If ever a round of willful navel-gazing seemed in order, this might be that time…

ASTROLOGY TIP: Start with the Planets

If you haven’t started really studying Astrology yet…or if you have, and you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of weird symbols, and you need something to anchor yourself to…start with the Planets.

It’s easy to get all caught up in the Signs first, because for some reason, it’s the Signs that have found their way into our culture (no one at a party ever uttered a seductive, “Hey, baby, what’s your House…?”). So the Signs just naturally seem like The Thing To Do at first.

But yeah, no – start with the Planets. The Planets represent active forces. They drive the engines. The Signs modify the actions of the Planets (and other things). In an admittedly oversimplified but not horribly inaccurate analogy, the Planets are like people, and the Signs are like jackets that the people can wear. The Houses are the rooms that the people hang out in once they’ve chosen a jacket to wear and put it on.

And because Astrology isn’t complicated enough, I’ll add another wrinkle for you right here… The Signs and the Houses? You can pretty much find a consensus out there that there are 12 members in each of those two sets. You can even find a decent consensus out there as to what each Sign and each House should be called and what they each generally mean.

Wait…Ceres?

But with the Planets, it’s different. In Astrology, the Sun and the Moon are included as “Planets.” So is Pluto, unlike for the astronomers. Well…that’s true if you’re into Modern Astrology. The modern school accepts the “Outer Planets” (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and depending on the individual astrologer, maybe many more orbital bodies out there, too) as having vital astrological impact on the system. The traditional Astrologer, though, only tracks the seven Planets that are visible to the naked eye from Earth: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

 

Gas_giants_in_the_solar_system
Virtually all astrologers let Jupiter and Saturn into the party…but where do you stand on Uranus and Neptune…?

The point is…unlike with the Signs and the Houses, there’s no ultimate consensus among astrologers as to exactly which Planets are to be considered essential components of a chart. To some extent, it’ll be on you to decide that.

So, sorry for that added bit of complication and responsibility… But yes, start with the Planets! Start especially with the visible seven (at least everyone seems to agree that those seven are crucial to the mix – it’s out beyond those seven that things get scattered). I also highly recommend looking into the Outer Planets, and if you feel like that’s still not enough to fully keep you busy, explore some of the Asteroid Belt asteroids and some of the Trans-Neptunian Objects way, way out there in the dark.

But whichever ones you decide should be considered Planets…start with the Planets.

Astrology Workshop in Providence, RI: Work and Money

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I’ll be teaching a FREE one-hour workshop today in the Providence, RI area. We’ll be going over some Astrology basics, covering the necessary steps for generating your own free birth-chart, and then focusing on how you can find clues in your chart about your own intrinsic wiring with respect to work and money.

What’s your relationship with money? What does it mean to you? How are you inclined to approach the doing of work itself, and what kinds of work are you best equipped to do in a career context…?

We’ll be talking about which astrological symbols in the chart are most on point here, and how you can pull some useful data from them. The workshop runs from noon until 1pm at the HOPE ARTISTE VILLAGE in Pawtucket, RI. We’ll be in Suite 707, at a place aptly named THE EMPOWERMENT FACTORY. Please consider this your official invitation to join us if you’ll be in the area!

Guided Meditation in Providence – 2/22

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One of the questions I find myself asking clients again and again during counseling sessions is this:

“Do you meditate…?”

And most of the time, the answer is an uneasy and somewhat apologetic or guilty-looking, “No…”

Our society gives us a somewhat inaccurate and often unhelpful picture of what meditation is, can be, and “should” be. Meditation can actually take many forms, and very few of them demand that you remain in lotus position for hours on end while levitating.

Later today, I’ll be hosting a guided meditation at a local nexus of benevolence here in the greater Providence, RI area called The Empowerment Factory. TEF lies within the confines of the Hope Artiste Village complex in the town of Pawtucket.

The event will run from 6:30pm – 8:00pm, although we won’t be sitting in silence or chanting without pause for 90 minutes straight. This is meant to be a beginner-friendly, undemanding session. All are welcome, and this is a donation-based gathering (in other words, if you want to contribute something to help TEF defray costs of operations, that will be cheerfully accepted, but it’s not required).

If you’re in the area, please join us!