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…

Love and Astrology


Are you in the Providence, RI area? Tomorrow (Feb. 14, 2017), in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be putting on a workshop focusing on “Love and Astrology.” This will be a FREE, one-hour lunchtime presentation starting at noon at a great local venue called The Empowerment Factory, which is a part of the Hope Artiste Village arts collective.

I’ll be giving an overview on what Astrology is in general, what the major components of an astrological chart are, and how you can start to analyze your own chart. Given the timing, this session will place special emphasis on Venus, the Planet named for the Roman Goddess of Love. As added incentive, there just may be free handouts…and I’ll definitely be offering a special, hefty discount on a chart reading by me to all attendees!

Also, on Wednesday evening – the day after Valentine’s Day – I’ll be hosting a FREE Reiki share at the same space. The event starts at 6:30pm, and will last for approximately 90 minutes. Whether you’re a Reiki veteran or a total newcomer, you’re invited to join us!

Astrology/Tarot Mapping: The Lovers

The astrological symbol that you’ll most often find associated with the Lovers card in Tarot is the Sign of Gemini.

In a very superficial way, this association makes some sense. That is, The Lovers can conjure thoughts of two people (i.e., the number it takes to tango)…and Gemini also has to do with a pair of people. At a quick glance, then, these two symbols might seem to have a lot in common.

The similarities don’t really run all that deep, though. For one thing, when The Lovers refers to a pair of people, it’s often a pair of…well…Lovers. Meanwhile, Gemini refers to a pair of Twins. Siblings. Pretty much not lovers. The Lovers card doesn’t only refer to romantic/sexual bonds, but it certainly can. Gemini, meanwhile, is more about exploring information, communication, and interpersonal dynamics of a more detached nature. This isn’t usually the first Sign an astrologer will come up with if asked about romantic archetypes.

Of course, The Lovers is also about concepts such as choice and integration, and a case could be made for these notions to be good correlates for what Gemini is about.

Then again, cases could also be made in favor of entirely different astrological symbols being linked to The Lovers. Maybe something with a more Venusian feel. If not the Planet Venus itself, then maybe the Venus-ruled Sign of Libra would address the romantic possibilities of The Lovers, while also remaining relevant with respect to the “choices” meaning of the card…?

Astrology/Tarot Mapping: The Hierophant

The most widely used astrological correspondence for the Hierophant card is the Zodiac Sign of Taurus. And this is definitely one of the correspondences that, for me personally, just doesn’t work all that well.

On the one end of the pairing, The Hierophant is a spiritual teacher and go-between, someone who – at least in theory – dedicates their life to helping members of their community in connecting with the Divine. The Hierophant provides structure, support, tradition, and access to accumulated knowledge.

Meanwhile, the other end of the pairing is Taurus. Using an Earth Sign isn’t a bad notion to start with: The Hierophant is in some sense trying to bring the Celestial down to the earthly plane. Taurus, though, doesn’t feel like the best specific choice to me as far as Earth symbols go. Traditionally linked with Venus, the Sign of Taurus has much to do with concepts such as beauty, peace, possessions, sensual pleasures. I’ve heard the argument put forth that a Hierophant is someone you’d seek counsel from in the event that you had issues revolving around Taurus themes, such as materialism or overindulgence in pleasures of a worldly nature…but I guess I prefer my symbolic linkages to be based on affirmative correlations. That is, I’d rather use an astrological symbol that can serve as a sort of synonym for The Hierophant’s presence, not one that flags The Hierophant’s absence.

As with The Emperor’s case, I personally again feel that some reference to Saturn or Capricorn might be the better way to go for this card…

Astrology/Tarot Mapping: The Empress

It’s pretty commonplace for people to associate The Empress in Tarot with the Planet Venus from Astrology. In fact, the Rider-Waite-Smith version of the card has the Venus symbol built right into it. But is Venus truly a strong astrological association for The Empress?

Venus the Planet takes its name from the Roman Goddess of Love, and in astrological terms, the Planet does represent the kinds of associated concepts you might expect. Venus stands for love and romance, and also any other kind of relationship energy you might imagine. Venus also speaks to things like peace and beauty.

And then there’s The Empress. In Tarot, this card often stands for concepts like growth and fertility, and in many decks, The Empress is even depicted as a woman deep into the latter stages of pregnancy, which reinforces these associations.

So the big question is whether The Empress can also be said to encompass the kinds of romantic love that Venus symbolizes? This would seem to be the biggest sticking point in trying to successfully link Venus with The Empress: how can you hold up a card as the Tarot equivalent of the Planet Venus if that card doesn’t really speak to romantic love, which is a pretty primary pillar of what Venus is all about?

For my part, I feel that this association is okay, but not flawless. I do tend to see The Empress as maybe a bit more maternal than as somebody’s romantic counterpart…and I say that with full awareness that you don’t get pregnant without first engaging in probably some legitimate amount of courtship, and also that we have in the very next card (The Emperor), a character who could very arguably be nominated as a readymade mate for The Empress. But still…when I see The Empress in a reading, I do go to growth and creativity and abundance before I eventually get to any thoughts of romance. And I’m not sure that that’s ideal when trying to connect a card with Venus…

Astrology and Romance…

IMG_4186The other day, I taught an Astrology workshop focusing on what birthcharts can say about a person’s romantic potential (you know: Valentine’s Day and all…). We leaned mainly on the personal Planets and the Ascendant, and off to one side, I tallied up all of the Sign placements in the attendees’ charts, because I’m nerdy like that, and because I thought it might be illuminating to see which Sign-energies might be most likely to propel people out into the cold to try to improve things in their romantic spheres…

Q: Care to guess which Signs were the most represented?

A: By a very wide margin, it was the Signs of Virgo (first place) and Leo (very close second) that topped the polls here. Not a gargantuan sample size, and only one event in one geographic locale studied here, but still interesting (he says, with his Mars in Virgo…).

Astrology 101: Aspects – Meet the Majors (Part 1 – Conjunctions)

This is the interior of the chart of celebrated English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. That riot of colored lines isn't just a groovy visual: each line describes the particulars of the connections that the Planets make with each other in Shelley's chart...and each such connection is called an Aspect.
This is the interior of the chart of celebrated English Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. That riot of colored lines isn’t just a groovy visual: each line describes the particulars of the various connections that the Planets make with each other in Shelley’s chart…and each such connection is called an Aspect.

Planets exist out there above us in the literal vacuum of space…but in an astrological chart, no Planet exists in a metaphorical vacuum. To some extent or other, every Planet in a chart is somehow connected with every other Planet in that same chart. Some of these connections are subtle and ephemeral, and others are very direct, and crackling with intensity.

The trick in becoming a skilled astrologer, then, is to be able to understand the characteristics of all of these diverse connections, and to recognize which of those that are on hand in a given chart will be the ones most likely to make their presences felt in the life of the chart-holder.

These connections are called Aspects. Most Astrology software presents these relationships graphically by rendering them as lines of various colors darting all about the interior of a chart.

Now, when it comes to the sort of triage process of deciding which possible Aspects we should include in chart analysis, and in what order of priority, it becomes apparent very quickly that this is another area in which it’s all but impossible to find any kind of consensus among astrologers. For every website that champions a certain Aspect as the most vital type of astrological connection known to humanity, five more minutes of surfing will turn up another site that just as passionately dismisses the same type of Aspect as being completely overhyped and unimportant. To some extent, you’ll need to keep this in mind as you study and practice, and begin to settle on which Aspects end up feeling truly important to you. If you’re just starting out, though, that’s obviously a lot more easily said than done.

Fortunately, though, there are several Aspects that are almost virtual locks for inclusion on nearly every astrologer’s list of must-haves. These are known as the Major Aspects:






360° (= 360°/1)



180° (= 360°/2)



120° (= 360°/3)



90° (= 360°/4)



60° (= 360°/6)


Remember that in geometry, the distance around the circle is divided into 360 equal units of measurement, and these units are called degrees. This idea is critical in the realm of Aspects. It’s the number of degrees separating Planets or Points that determines which (if any) Aspects are held to be in operation.And this is where we start to make use of some of the nuts and bolts of the geometry of circles that we covered in the previous post…

The table above illustrates how we arrive at the Major Aspects: basically, we just divide the circle by one of the first few whole numbers. For example, dividing the 360° of the entire distance around the circle by 1, we’re left with that same entire 360° of distance. In other words, if we were to travel the full 360° around the circle, we’d be right back where we started. It may help to remember also that 360° is the same as 0° – consider that going all the way around a clock-face (the full 360°) from the 12 at the top would leave you right back at that same 12, exactly where you’d be if you hadn’t moved at all (0°)…

Zooming closer in on Percy Shelley's chart, we see a couple of outstanding examples of the Aspect known as a conjunction: his Venus and Sun, down at the bottom of the chart, are less than half a degree apart, while his Mars and Jupiter, at the upper right, are separated by a mere *two minutes* of distance! Each conjunction results in a merging of the energies of the involved Planets, because imagine trying to involve one of them, without the other half of the conjunction being a part of the action...
Zooming closer in on Percy Shelley’s chart, we see a couple of outstanding examples of the Aspect known as a Conjunction: his Venus and Sun, down at the bottom of the chart, are less than half a degree apart, while his Mars and Jupiter, at the upper right, are separated by a mere *two minutes* of distance! Each Conjunction results in a merging of the energies of the involved Planets, because imagine trying to involve one of them, without the other half of the Conjunction also being a part of the action…

But now insert that 360° distance between two Planets: say that in the chart that you’re analyzing, Venus lies at 14° Taurus. If I told you that Jupiter is located 360° from Venus in that chart, you could do the math/geometry in your head pretty easily, and you’d realize that Jupiter must then also reside at 14° Taurus. Two Planets that are 360° apart are essentially right on top of each other. An Aspect of this nature, in which two Planets lie that full 360° (= 0°) apart, is known as a Conjunction.

Conjunction.  In each of the major symbol-sets we’ve looked at so far, it was hopefully clear that each member of those sets has its own distinct personality. This holds true for the Planets, the Signs, and the Houses. No two of these symbols are alike. The same principle applies with respect to the Aspects. When we deal with the Conjunction – often held to be the most powerful Aspect of all – the watchword is fusion. When two Planets are conjunct one another, their functions and essences begin to flow together.

This idea confounded me when I first encountered it as a newcomer to Astrology, and I remember asking on a message board if this meant that, say, a Venus-Mercury Conjunction would result in something akin to a great, big, hybrid-Planet that would take on the form and function of a “Ven-Merc-us-ury” in the life of the chart-holder…? I was told gently that the two Planets don’t merge to that extent – they do retain their own identities, but they also do share an inextricable and fairly unavoidable link…

Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are like the living embodiment of a planetary conjunction in 1958's
Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier are like the living embodiment of a planetary Conjunction in 1958’s “The Defiant Ones.” Imagine trying to bring one of these guys along with you to a party without his chained buddy also showing up…

Think of it this way… There’s a 1958 film called “The Defiant Ones,” in which Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis play a pair of convicts who escape from a prison transport vehicle and go on the run. There’s an added layer of difficulty in all this, even beyond what most would-be escapees would face, in that the two characters are chained together when they first hoof it away from the authorities. Where one goes, the other has to follow, and what befalls one, is pretty much guaranteed to happen to the other. If it rains on Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis probably also needs an umbrella. If Tony Curtis falls off a cliff, Sidney Poitier either has to save him quickly, or join him in his terminal date with gravity. They still retain their individual identities, but you can’t really invite one of them to a party without the other one showing up, too.

Conjunctions work like that. The two Planets may not be literally shackled together, but they may function as if they are. Look again at that “Ven-Merc-us-ury” example I mentioned up above. If Venus symbolizes (among other things) our sense of what constitutes beauty and our drive to have relationships, and if Mercury is our communication function, then in the Venus-Mercury Conjunction, these two imperatives may seem fused.

Imagine that a person whose chart harbors a Conjunction of this type encounters something that strikes them as beautiful (i.e., their Venus function is triggered). They may then feel absolutely compelled to communicate about it (working their Mercury function). Some people can just quietly bask in beauty, keeping their thoughts and emotions to themselves, while just enjoying the experience. The person with the Venus-Mercury Conjunction, however, may be unable to keep from holding forth about that great beauty to anyone who will listen (and maybe also even to a few people who would rather not…).

Next imagine that the same person goes to work the next day, and is assigned to write a memo for their department at work that simply details the steps to be followed in the event of a mandatory safety evacuation of the building. Ordinarily, the memo in question should require only the most bare-bones language: a simple summary of action items in the proper sequence, and maybe a very basic map. The Venus-Mercury Conjunction person, though, might feel an uncontrollable urge to not just get the basics across (Mercury-style communication of data), but to do so in a way that’s also beautiful (Venus activity). They might use colorful and creative language, and they could conceivably experiment with striking graphic design principles so that the memo will have active visual appeal. In other words, the person’s Venus may not be able to sit quietly by and not contribute energy when their Mercury is getting busy – Venus may feel compelled to pretty everything up, whether the situation actually demands that or not.

So this is a person who might not be able to experience or perceive beauty without communication becoming a part of the proceedings…and who can’t communicate without including beauty as part of the package. The two Planets’ functions become linked in great part, and like the two characters in “The Defiant Ones,” they show up at every scene together.

Next time around we’ll start to look at the rest of the Major Aspects…