Understand Pluto by Understanding Persephone…

Somber Hades, Lord of the Underworld, and his three-headed Hellhound, Cerberus…

Yesterday, I posted HERE about Pluto’s impending turn retrograde, set for tomorrow. I talked a little bit about what Pluto signifies in Astrology, and I also held forth somewhat about what retrograde periods might mean when they decide to settle in around us.

Today’s post is more purely aimed at fleshing out the specific character of Pluto.

So this is a Planet that was named after the Roman God of the Underworld. And while it might be a bit uncharitable to the Romans and their Deities to say this, most of the Roman Goddesses and Gods seem like barely updated versions of the earlier Greek Deities. Jupiter, the King of the Roman Gods, with his mighty thunderbolts, feels a lot like Zeus, the King of the Greek Gods…with his mighty thunderbolts… Mercury, the Roman Messenger-God with his winged sandals and magic caduceus-staff is the spitting image of Hermes, the Greek Messenger-God, with his winged sandals and his magic caduceus-staff… You probably get the picture.

But even though the Greek incarnations came first, it somehow transpired that we humans named the Planets of our solar system after the Roman versions of these mythic figures. You know the names: Venus, Mars, Saturn, Neptune…

And Pluto is no exception in all this: the Greeks had an incredibly similar Lord of the Underworld named Hades, but we named our far-distant, planetary system-mate after the Roman version. Still, it can be very instructive to examine one of the primary myths about Hades to understand more about the role that the Planet Pluto plays in Astrology.

This image has always made me think of Persephone before Hades arrived on the scene – she’s carrying on her mother’s agricultural work, but not looking especially passionate about it here, and is maybe wondering if there might be something more for her out there…

To tell this particular story about Hades, though, is also to relate the story of Persephone, a young Goddess who would have a fateful encounter with the gloomy Lord of the Netherworld (whose nature would eventually be mapped onto our icy Pluto)…

So after the generation of Greek Gods known as the Olympians ascended to power, an age of growth took hold. The Olympians settled in to rule, and various species flourished down on the earthly level. One of the Olympians, Demeter, assumed the role of Goddess of Agriculture and of the Harvest, and so control of all green and growing things became her province.

Demeter was often helped in her agrarian efforts by her daughter, Persephone. An innocent and beautiful young Goddess-girl on the cusp of Goddess-womanhood, Persephone seemingly had little independence and identity of her own outside of being Demeter’s sheltered daughter.

Hades abducts Persephone – this is a great summary of what can happen to us when Pluto the Planet becomes activated…

One day, though, Persephone wandered down to Earth, and strolled about in a meadow all by herself. While there, she caught the eye of her grave uncle, Hades, who was watching from down below in his Underworld domain. Unable to fight back his loneliness and desire, Hades harnessed his chariot, raced up toward the surface, caused the earth to open up beneath Persephone, and he gathered her up as she fell, and brought her back to his dark realm below.

And as Persephone dealt with this abrupt and frightening turn of events, her mother was quick to notice her absence, and launched a frantic search for her. It took some time, but eventually, the Olympians learned that it was their own kinsman, Hades, who had abducted young Persephone. When Zeus, their King, demanded that Hades return the wayward Goddess to her home up above, Hades pointed out that while she was his guest, Persephone had eaten six pomegranate seeds…and no one living, not even the Olympian Deities, may eat of the food of the dead.

Zeus found himself caught in a real bind here, not wanting to reward Hades for kidnapping an innocent Goddess-girl and depriving Demeter of her beloved daughter, but also agreeing that the prohibition against the living eating food from the Land of the Dead was an important law that was not to be broken. He settled on a compromise: for every pomegranate seed that Persephone had eaten, she would have to spend one month per year below in the Underworld with Hades, while for the other six months of the year, she could roam Olympus and Earth as she pleased.

As is so often the way with compromises, no one was especially happy with this decision. Hades had only half of the companionship he’d been seeking, while Demeter was being forced to go without her daughter’s company for half of every year. In retaliation, Demeter declared that she would help nothing to grow for those intervals when Persephone was down below in the darkness – this is why we have the Autumn and Winter seasons each year, and why, when Persephone returns aboveground on the Vernal Equinox, we enter the warm and fruitful six months of Spring and Summer (obviously, the Greek tales originated with a society that lived in the Northern Hemisphere…).

Persephone as Queen of the Underworld: now a Goddess of great power, with tremendous influence over her husband, and the ability to inspire fear in the hearts of even the greatest of mortals…

Interestingly enough, though, while her abduction must have been fairly terrifying at the time, Persephone arguably benefitted from it. Where she’d once been little more than an extension of her mother, with no real identity and no real autonomy, Hades’ intervention transformed her into the powerful Queen of the Underworld. Almost overnight, she made quantum leaps forward in establishing a new role for herself, amassing a tremendous amount of personal power, and transforming from a young, naïve Goddess-girl to a fearsome, fully matured Goddess.

In Homer’s classic Greek tale, The Odyssey, the hero of the piece, Odysseus, is obliged at one point to travel to the Underworld, and he clearly states his desire to finish his errand and get gone back to the surface before “dread Persephone” puts in an appearance. And this was one of the greatest heroes of his time, fresh off the bloody horrors of ten years spent fighting in the Trojan War – Odysseus was arguably one of the least cowardly mortals then roaming the Greek landscape, but thoughts of even a three-minute encounter with the Mistress of the Underworld had him wanting to flee that dark place like an incontinent child…

In some tellings, Persephone even seems to become the true power in the Underworld, forcing Hades into a never-ending quest to win her forgiveness and her affections after having stolen her away from the bright, airy upper-world and the life she’d known there. In these versions of the tale, Hades spends the rest of his days in a vain effort trying to make his Queen smile and love him back.

So the point of all this is that when Pluto the Planet – named in roundabout fashion for Hades – becomes active in our lives, it’s possible that we might have to play the part of Hades himself in some dynamic. We might be called to grapple with our own long-denied hungers, to choose whether to exert our power over others, and to bump up against the limits of how much we truly value the consent of those others before we exercise our will upon them.

More likely, though, there’s an excellent chance that during times of Plutonian influence, we may in some manner be slotted to be on the receiving end of some version of the Persephone treatment. That is, Pluto energies may take us on a forced march into some scary Underworld of our own, to face whatever dwells down there in the dark. We may be ripped from our usual routines, and we may be sequestered for a time in some fairly dismal psychic locale. We may have to contend with the worse aspects of human nature, and we may have to make some truly hard choices.

But as with Persephone’s experience, the developments may not be exclusively bad here. Plutonian passages can allow for us to retrieve long-buried psychological material and then transmute it into something positive. They can also trigger profound transformation, and yield massively enhanced power and knowledge.

It’s not really possible to outrun Pluto’s influence, or to hide from the Lord of the Underworld – he comes for all of us at some point. When he does, though, what we can do is accept the challenges that these periods present us, and try to ride them through to some personal metamorphosis.

For this Pluto retrograde, you can prepare and cope by making use of such techniques as meditation, dream journaling, psychotherapy, visualization exercises, shamanic practices, and energy healing. Have faith in yourself, make wise choices about what to use as fuel during this retrograde interval, and accept that change is inevitable…but not necessarily “bad.”

Pluto Retrograde

Pluto is the Lord of the Underworld…and when Pluto gets active, all of the hidden, buried things come crawling up to the surface…

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.

Venus Developments…

Venus, named for the Goddess of Love, is currently connected to Saturn, named for a God who thought it would be a great idea to swallow all of his newborn children so they’d never be able to someday rise up and challenge him… This may not bode so well for our relationships at this time!

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…

The Four Elements in Astrology

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:

Sign

Element

Aries

Fire

Taurus

Earth

Gemini

Air

Cancer

Water

Leo

Fire

Virgo

Earth

Libra

Air

Scorpio

Water

Sagittarius

Fire

Capricorn

Earth

Aquarius

Air

Pisces

Water

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:

House

Element

First

Fire

Second

Earth

Third

Air

Fourth

Water

Fifth

Fire

Sixth

Earth

Seventh

Air

Eighth

Water

Ninth

Fire

Tenth

Earth

Eleventh

Air

Twelfth

Water

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:

  1. What’s the Elemental breakdown for the Signs in your chart?
  2. What’s the Elemental breakdown for the Houses in your chart?
  3. What’s the Elemental breakdown when you add them all together?
  4. 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.

Fire, Earth, Air, Water…Fire, Earth, Air, Water…Fire, Earth, Air, Water…

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!

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…