Heavenly Truth

depth astrology


October 2009

Changing of the Guard: Sun into Scorpio

Death-chasing-flock-of-mort By tomorrow, the Sun will be in Scorpio. Contained within Scorpio is the celebration of Samhain (Halloween), a night where the boundaries between the worlds is said to be thin and the Underworld is not far away. Divination (various methods, such as scrying, through which knowledge is gained from other worldly sources) is said to be most powerful on this night since the other world from which one is trying to divine answers is so accessible. Samhain is celebrated not with the attitude of fear of the dark or all things representing death, but with respect and welcome for these integral parts of life.

Scorpio is the sign of
transformation and it does this by welcoming the "Underworld" into its reality. From the downright frightening to the merely taboo, Scorpio is about bringing those things into our consciousness as well as the pleasant things. Scorpio recognizes that if we push what scares us, about life or about ourselves, into the shadows, we don't get rid of it, we simply give it permission to haunt us, with no control or choice whatsoever. The monsters don't go away; they just get bigger

I've always preferred the symbol of the Phoenix for Scorpio, over the Scorpion. The Phoenix is a mythical animal that burns in flame when it reaches the end of its life, and the ashes from that ended life nurture the birth of another life. This is not a choice, it's just the method through which the Phoenix dies. Much in life that scares us tends to center around things that come upon us most of the time without any choice, such as our actual physical death which we know, on some level, is always pursuing us. More than just showing courage, Scorpio represents the power that one gains when it stops running and turns to face what is chasing it, even though it risks being swallowed whole. Transformation, like the Phoenix, is not a gradual, gentle change, but requires an utter surrender of what one is and has been, in order to bring forth what it can and must be. Much like Samhain is considered by many to be the end, and the beginning of the year, Scorpio's freedom is found in the moment that it surrenders its life to begin its new one.

We all have a little Scorpio in us, even if it's just by virtue of its ruling planet, Pluto, and we all have a closet in which skeletons may be housed (your 8th house is a great place for that!) We all face times in our lives where we have the opportunity to truly look at what we've created in our lives as a result of our refusal to face a fear or let go of an attachment we've made that we pour our power into so we don't have to have the burden of carrying it. Sometimes it's too much for us to bear, but when we can find the strength, facing the monster allows us to take back the pieces of ourselves that we have left behind in running from it.

As the Sun moves through Scorpio, it brings light to the dark places, so that we may navigate them and transform ourselves in small and large ways. What treasures might you find if you weren't afraid to go into the cave?

Striking a Balance: the Astrology of Positive Thinking

With four planets in Libra in my natal chart, including Uranus and Mercury in my 9th house of philosophy, I often have a 'knee-jerk' reaction to any statement that appears to be an opinion stated
as an absolute. Mars leads my Libra planetary pack so perhaps it's no
wonder that I often defend anything by starting my argument with "Yes,
but on the other hand…"

Bright sided book cover So when I was introduced to and began reading Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book: Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America,
I was excited to see that the chronic "flight into light" behaviors
that sometimes accompany 'new age' thinking and the (in my opinion)
misuse and misunderstanding of the Law of Attraction being argued. But
would she do it in an intelligent and even-handed way, I wondered? Or
was this going to be a pessimist's manifesto, just as extreme as its
opposite argument?

my surprise and enjoyment, I think she argued intelligently and fairly,
with the overall message of grounded optimism, not pessimism and also
not empty-headed positive thinking. But this isn't exactly meant to be just a book review, so let's get on with the astrology.

As soon as I saw Barbara's interview on The Daily Show,
all kinds of astrological possibilities entered my head. This book's
appearance seems to be synchronistic with the ushering in of the Pluto
in Capricorn period, particularly coming from the Pluto in Sagittarius
period. Pluto has been in Capricorn for a good while now, but it is
still in the beginning stages of entry and the effects are not yet
fully shaken out. Barbara's subtitle about "undermining America,"
though I think a tad dramatic (yay, marketing), got me to thinking
about the United States' chart and the recognition of Sagittarius, the sign of optimism if there ever was one, is the United States' Ascendant. And then, of course, I wondered about Barbara's
own chart.

How Pluto Works in the Collective

The outer planets, usually referring to Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, are sometimes called 'generational'
because they are in the same sign for such a long period of time that
they can affect an entire generation collectively. I think the mistake
in that perspective is in thinking that the generational effect is
their only relevance. These planets matter greatly in a personal natal
chart, but they also function on a larger scale. Pluto especially,
staying in a sign for at least 10 years but sometimes more than 20, can
reflect an entire generation.

Pluto affects the collective in two ways.
First, events that take place during any given period, such as when
Pluto was in Sagittarius from 1995 to 2008, will reflect what we all
are learning about that sign, both it's blind spots and negative qualities as well as its possibilities and positive qualities. Second, the generation that is born during that time not only lives through it but carries the energy of it throughout their life, which then ripens when those children become adults, entering the work force, establishing and changing laws, and shaping culture.

Pluto in Sagittarius: Bigger is Better

In a nutshell, Sagittarius rules things like expanding one's reach through travel, crossing boundaries of race and country for multi-cultural experiences, adventure, the quest for knowledge and discovery through (sometimes naive) experimentation, faith and optimism. Here are a handful of things that happened during Pluto's journey through Sagittarius:

  • The Euro began circulating, making travel through Europe easier through standardized currency
  • Dolly the Sheep was cloned
  • Construction started on the International Space Station
  • Internet use ballooned, as well as development of faster ways to access it and it became easier to purchase things from other countries through e-commerce
  • GPS (Global Positioning System) became fully operational
  • Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa
  • Terrorist attacks on September 11th in New York
  • Credit over-extension grows as do examples of economic balloon and collapse, such as the 'dot-com' cave in
The new age movement did not start during Pluto in Sagittarius by any means, but it continued to grow. The idea of the Law of Attraction regained popularity through the introduction of The Secret book and movie, and while the idea of visualizing what you want is a great one, since thoughts can lead to actions, the way it was popularly received seemed to be not "you can become what you imagine" but "you are what you think."

Pluto in Capricorn: Bursting the Bubble

It is during the shifts from one sign to another that the contrast
between them can so easily be seen. One of the most obvious differences
is the increasing realization of the need to live within one's limits:
especially financial and environmental – the management of one's
resources. As Pluto has entered Capricorn, the over-extension behaviors, especially financially, of the previous years has collapsed on itself, and a majority of people are dealing with the reality of this cave-in. Moving from Capricorn to Sagittarius feels like everything is being condensed, refined, and pressed into a much smaller but more solid form. Sagittarius was about possibility, Capricorn is about reality.

When we pass from spending a lot of time in one sign to another, there seems to be a readiness to move into the new energy, often showing up as a backlash from the negative qualities that permeated culture in the previous sign. No doubt we will be fed up of being ruled and regulated to death once Pluto enters Aquarius, but for now, many of us feel ready to 'come down to earth' and get a handle on things that have run away from us (or at least, the necessity is certainly presenting itself).

is no better than Sagittarius, just different and with a different
purpose.  Perhaps we must take the "anything is possible if you only
believe" optimism of Sagittarius and push it through the translation process of "everything is possible just not all at once and with no money or time or plan"
ideology of Capricorn. I think this book is a great example of this process, moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn specifically. Barbara is expressing something I've heard from a lot of clients, disappointed that the thinking of The Secret and similar philosophies did not work like the magic trick it seemed to be.

Striking a Balance

My interpretation of Barbara's argument is that it's not that one shouldn't be hopeful or positive at all, only that in overdoing it as a philosophy, it has become its own oppressive 'religion'. I don't feel that thinking positively is a bad thing, and in fact my own philosophy with my clients is geared toward empowering them to respond to their situations in a way that helps them participate in intentionally crafting their life rather than feeling powerless or victimized. I do think, though, that there is a huge difference between that and telling ourselves that "Happy feelings will attract more happy circumstances" and expecting that our thoughts alone are all that are required. Interestingly, Barbara pointed out that when measured, Americans don't seem to be any happier, despite our "vaunted positivity." One can see how the Sagittarian shadow of more, more, more might leave one never satisfied.

In my attempt to show the Sagittarian shadow, I am not trying to ridicule it's purpose nor am I making an argument against the power of our own willingness to risk and have the faith and confidence in ourselves to step into our potential. I'm also a huge fan of humility in the face of the Unknown, and am not a fan of those who would assume that nothing unseen or unproven is real (I'm an Astrologer for goodness' sake!) But my early experiences with religion left me with a bad taste in mouth, specifically the tendency to attribute all good things with God, and all bad things with our weakness in succumbing to the Devil, which I think leaves us with the 'catch 22' of blaming ourselves only for the bad things we do and never being able to take pride in or credit for the good things we do. This is more an interpretation by those who practice religion rather than the fault of the system itself, but nonetheless, it was a cultural perspective I could never swallow.

Sometimes our misuse of positive thinking can show up as merely suppression of negative thoughts, not the successful management of them. Anger, fear, and sorrow are just as natural, though not nearly as comfortable, as joy, excitement, and contentment. I think it's important that in our attempts to empower ourselves with one hand, we not disempower ourselves with the other hand by shutting down the parts of ourselves and our responses to life that are uncomfortable (is my 8th house stellium showing?) Hiding our darkness behind "love and light" can be almost as damaging as drinking ourselves to death in order to numb the pain, and our growing chronic use of anti-depressants, while beneficial to many, can also be (and in many cases has been).

It's probably not a very good idea to quote someone who was paraphrasing another someone, but it was such a striking example of this that I'm going to allow myself this faux pas. Several years ago I was in a class and one of the participants in the class was a licensed psychotherapist. She related a story to the group about a recent event she'd been to where the speaker was discussing the benefits anti-depressants and the like, and at one point he apparently stated that with these drugs, 'no one would ever have to have a bad day again.' Of course, we all gasped in horror, but when we are responding in an unconscious way to the philosophy of positive thinking, I think we can be quite vulnerable to living and acting in a way that attempts to prevent ever a 'bad day' from happening, even if consciously we would never claim that as our philosophy.

I think the concept of responsibility is woven in to these positive thinking philosophies, but can be skewed in a poisonous way in much the same manner as I described above while discussing religion. In
a well meaning attempt to empower ourselves and not respond to life as
a victim, we are also vulnerable to inflating our own sense of power,
which not only leads to a let down when reality doesn't reflect that,
but can be an insidious way to punish ourselves and others. One example
I've heard, unfortunately much too often, is the idea that any disaster
or upsetting circumstance in someone's life, from a business failure to
a car crash to a health concern, has been brought on by the person
themselves. Sometimes the more gentle theory is proposed: "because they
needed its lessons." However, all too often there is the judgment
projected that the person somehow failed the Law of Attraction test and
this is their result or even their punishment. This perspective does nothing to empower
someone to respond positively, but  simply to suppress natural feelings of
fear, anxiety, or sorrow out of a sense of shame that  they would even be feeling
them in the first place, and allowing themselves to behave like a,
gasp, victim!

Sagittarius does not like to feel trapped, and feeling a victim is certainly a  way one can feel trapped, but Capricorn doesn't like to play victim either. They both combat that thinking through very different methods. I think it is the Pluto in Capricorn period and the children that carry the stamp of that period forward that can marry the idea of positive thinking with the actual setting of realistic but ambitious goals. During Pluto in Capricorn, we'll see plenty of Capricorn's dark side, such as examples of the cruelty that can come with "ends justify the means" thinking, often in the name of trying to respond to the realistic limitations in resources we find ourselves dealing with, and possibly a lot of examples where value is placed on justice, but perhaps not balanced with mercy.

Barbara-ehrenreich-natal-ch Barbara's Natal Chart

I won't spend too much time here because more than one blog entry can always be written about the fascinating world of one person's natal chart. However, I did find it personally amusing when I saw that the planet Jupiter was squaring her nodes, indicating, among other things, that the attitude of hope, confidence, potential, and, gasp, even positive thinking, represent an evolutionary rite of passage in getting from her south node to her north node (although it's in Gemini, which certainly speaks to clear thinking and using one's voice and mind to communicate a message  – something she clearly seems to be doing vigorously and successfully in her life).

Her north node lies in Virgo, along with her Sun and Mercury and Neptune. Speaking from an Evolutionary Astrology perspective, Neptune opposed her south node and yet it's ruler, would seem to reflect a feeling of being oppressed/opposed by the things Neptune in Virgo represents, such as spirituality delivered in strict rule and ritual, right and wrong fashion (among other things). In working toward her north node, I would imagine she would need to learn to make peace with that oppression and move beyond it, to embrace her own truth. Is this book accomplishing that for her? Who can say, but as it is a book that was, in part, born out of her struggle with breast cancer and the frustration she felt with the positive thinking overload which left no room for sorting through anger or fear, I would speculate that it's an excellent step in clearing the debris.

The “Wrinkle” in Applying Ancient Astrology to Modern Thinking

A wrinkle in time I began and finished re-reading my 23 year old paperback copy of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time this week. The cover is worn and taped to the book itself, the pages discolored on the edges from so much page turning. In the story, three children, along with three supernatural creatures, travel to several planets in order to fight The Black Thing, to save other worlds, and their own, from it's grip. One of the planets they visit is called Camazotz, a planet that has already given into The Black Thing. The planet's inhabitants have all submitted to something called IT, which causes them all to do everything according to the same protocol and even in the same rhythm, denying basic freedoms and creativity but eradicating disease and the worry caused by bearing the burden of making decisions.

On two different occasions, the children visit a seer called the Happy Medium, who looks into her crystal ball to show them a better look at the Black Thing. One of the children asks if she can see what happens in the following excerpt:

"Can't she see what's going to happen?" Calvin asked.

"Oh, not in this kind of thing." Mrs. Whatsit sounded surprised at his question. "If we knew ahead of time what was going to happen we'd be–we'd be like the people on Camazotz, with no lives of our own, with everything all planned and done for us. How can I explain it to you? Oh, I know. In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet."

"Yes, yes," Calvin said impatiently.

"It is a strict form of poetry, is it not?"


"There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That's a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?"

"Yes." Calvin nodded.

"And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?"


"But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn't he?"

"Yes." Calvin nodded again. "You mean you're comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?"

"Yes." Mrs. Whatsit said. "You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you."

I love me a good metaphor, so this one struck me in particular when I realized how much it speaks to my (and many others') views of astrology and the birth chart. It is a sonnet, a plan, a form; the container that provides us with the structure in which to create the life we want. I enjoy the predictive quality of astrology and my eyes still get wide when I see it's power demonstrated in our personal and shared lives, but to me, the magic of astrology lies in the way it can reveal ourselves to ourselves, without taking away the mystery of it as if skipping to the end of a good book because you just want to know how it turns out.

One of my favorite sayings is "Know Thyself." It has been repeated everywhere for ages and seems to speak to the wisdom of uncovering and utilizing one's self-awareness. If you know yourself, perhaps you are less likely to get into situations that are not productive for you, or make unhealthy decisions (at least, I think that's the theory!) With an 8th house stellium, I'm very motivated to Know Myself as I dig through the depths of my psychological processes, fears, and strengths. But I don't think the wisdom of knowing yourself comes from categorizing your personality traits. I think respecting yourself is vital too, respecting the mystery that you are and the spark of the divine that you are carry. I think to know yourself you must keep becoming and recognize what you don't yet know, but will create tomorrow.

When most people first begin learning astrology, they are not always lucky enough to pick up a really great and thoughtful book. They may attempt to memorize keywords and plug them into each other  in an A+B+C=whoknows sort of fashion. We've all got to start somewhere, but the "wrinkle" in that plan comes from carrying that sort of definitive, keyword oriented kind of thinking into trying to make sense of an entire human being's personality, life, and soul. When we look at the birth chart as not what we already are but as what we are becoming, then we can turn astrology around. A very simplistic but effective way to begin transforming the way we use the old stereotypes of astrology into this "new age" is to start by changing our wording, which can begin to change our thought process.

When we say "Aries is brave," for instance, we give a definitive statement, a black and white, right or wrong statement. We imply that if you are an Aries, you must be brave. Therefore, if you are not, you must not really be an Aries, or astrology must be wrong, or perhaps it's one of your other signs "canceling it out." However, when we say something like "the intention of Aries is to learn courage," then we imply action, something that can be worked on, practiced, grown into. This simple change can get us thinking in a direction that is more reflective of an attitude of choice within structure, freedom within the plan, to pick up the pen and write our own sonnets.

Let’s Get Personal: the Progressed Moon

The moon's role in your chart represents your emotional needs and reactions, and by the same token, the progressed moon's role in your chart represents your evolving emotional needs and reactions. What you need and want 'lately' may not line up with the norm. But the progressed moon isn't just a 2-year-long mood swing. I've found the progressed moon to reveal the basic emotional foundation into which everything else that happens in your life lands and sprouts (or chokes your plants!) While this view can be held for all the progressed planets, only the progressed moon moves slowly enough to allow the energy of a sign or house to build up in your focus and be incorporated into your life, but quickly enough that something is always going on with it: it's changing signs, or houses, or it's trining or squaring or opposing a planet. I've always found it to be an excellent, no-fail barometer for what's going on in someone's internal life.

Yet, it's not just on the inside. The old saying "As above, so below" certainly applies, but I'm also talking about "As within, so without." What we're ready for and going through on the inside frequently manifests in the external, as situations and events that just happen to be the perfect impetus for the internal lessons we are learning. Many people find that when their progressed moon enters the 2nd house, they are dealing with new financial stresses such as losing their job or taking on new responsibilities that come with a financial burden, and these (along with other examples) provide the right sort of incubator for them to do the true 2nd house work: prove to themselves that they've got what is necessary to take their own survival in hand, even when their resources are stretched further than ever. A 7th house passage will bring an internal need to take inventory of the relationships and attitudes about relationship in someone's life and determine whether or not they are working and how they need to work better. External events may reflect that by the timing of a new relationship or the timing of an end to a relationship coinciding with the progressed moon's journey through the 7th. Obviously the sign has a lot to contribute. With a progressed moon in Capricorn in the 7th, it may be the structures, commitments, and rules that need shifting, whereas a Leo progressed moon in the 7th indicate a time to show and receive heightened amounts of appreciation to and from a partner.

My progressed moon has been in the 12th house for about 3 months
now, and I can tell you that I snicker at my foolishness in starting a
blog during this time, because I require so much 'downtime' now, to
connect to the ethers and stare into space…  …  I'm sorry, what was I saying?

'Til next time, earthlings.

One's progressed moon cannot be seen in the sky, but only felt with the heart. Astrology's progressed planets are calculated based on the idea of a day for a year; meaning, a day's actual movement of a planet equals a year's worth of progressed movement. The moon moves around 12-14 degrees every day, changing signs every 2-1/4 days or so. The progressed moon will take a year to move that same distance, changing signs every 2-1/4 years. If you want to know more, I wrote an entire book about it, but you'll have to wait until next July. Astrology of the Moon will be published in July 2010 by Llewellyn. Join my mailing list to be notified when it comes out!

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