Heavenly Truth

depth astrology


March 2011

Mercury Retrograde, Schmetrograde

All the astrological heavenly bodies periodically go retrograde except for the sun and the moon. If you were to observe a planet in its orbit across the night sky this week, you would see Mercury seeming to slow down, stop (station), and start going in a backward direction (retrograde). Of course, Mercury is not literally going backward in its orbit, but it appears to us to be doing so. Mercury appears to go backward a few times a year for about 3 weeks at a time, give or take.

The ‘shadow’ period of a retrograde planet encompasses the retrograde period and then some. The shadow period is the length of time it takes for a planet to get back to the original place in the sky it was before it started going backward.

Observe the example illustration below. Each sign is made up of 30 degrees. In this example, on September 4th, Mercury reaches 7 and 1/2 degrees of Libra. On September 24th, it reaches about 22 and 1/2 degrees of Libra. It then begins to move backwards through Libra. On October 15th, it will find itself all the way back at 7 and 1/2 degrees of Libra. By October 31st, it will make it out of its shadow period, when it reaches 22 and 1/2 degrees of Libra.
Why You Care
It’s nothing to fear, but it is a period when a little extra care goes a long way. When a planet goes retrograde, and when it is in its shadow period before it’s even begun moving backwards, the earthly things that planet symbolizes often start to behave in unusual ways more frequently than normal. Since Mercury rules communication, it rules all objects and methods that are used in communication, including fax machines, computers, email, and objects used in transit for short trips such as cars, buses, bikes, etc. So the stereotypical but not-so-funny-at-the-time snafus begin to happen: parking tickets, undelivered/misdelivered emails, computer programs not working correctly, any electronic equipment malfunctioning or breaking – you get the picture.

We seem more vulnerable to miscommunication during this period, especially if you assume the other person understands you or don’t think or see things through to their outcome without clarifying and double checking. Appointments missed or meeting places miscommunicated, arguments/hurt feelings created by lack of explanation or assumptions.

It is important at this time to communicate thoroughly and clearly, but the reason goes deeper than wanting to avoid troublesome circumstances. Any time a planet retrogrades, it is a time when reflection and review is needed. Frequently, during a Mercury retrograde period, we often find that some error or some miscommunication was set up a long time ago, and only now comes to light during the period of retrogradation. It’s the Universe giving us a chance to clean up messes that have gone unnoticed for too long, so things come back so we can do that.

But sometimes it seems like a non-stop comedy of errors. Good luck, people.

International Astrology Day, March 20th 2011

International Astrology Day is the day that the Sun enters Aries and begins a new astrological year. This year it's on March 20th. Many great events are taking place all around the U.S. and world to celebrate, from conferences, to festivals & fairs, to online events. Here are a few I've found. Get out and meet your local astrological community!

Seattle Washington.TOTALLY FREE EVENT. March 20, noon to 3 pm, Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Full details here.

Portland Oregon. $5 admission. March 19, 11:30-4:30. Full details here.

Eugene Oregon. $5-$10 donation suggested. March 19 2-4 pm. Maude Kerns Art Center , 1910 East 15th

San Francisco California. $80. March 19, 10-8. One day conference on outer planets. Full details here.

Los Angeles California. NCGR chapter. $5. March 20, 1pm. Private home of Angel Thompson 1809 Washington Way, Venice, CA 310-779-6878 near Abbot Kinney and Venice Blvd. Ful details here.

Roswell Georgia. FREE. Saturday March 19 from 11am to 7pm; Sunday March 20 from 1pm to 5pm. Details here.

York Pennsylvania. FREE Sunday, March 20, 10 AM to 5 PM at New Visions Books & Gifts 525 Hillcrest Road, York PA. RSVP by March 16 to Lisa Benjamin: Details here.

Omaha Nebraska. Psychic Full Moon Festival, Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 5:00pm – 9:00pm, PS Collective 6056 Maple St, Omaha, NE 68104. "Each reader will list their own prices at their table. Small cover charge at the door." Details here.

London England. Astrological Association of Great Britain. "will be gathering in their usual pub – the Union' at 88-90 George Street, London W1U 8PA from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM on Saturday 21 March for a few drinks together." Details here.

AFAN, the Association For Astrological Networking, is keeping an updated list which contains these events and new ones as they become known here.

12 Signs of Procrastination

Aries procrastinates because it's too busy racing to comment !FIRST! to every Facebook and Blog post.

Taurus procrastinates because it is too comfy right now. Laziness is the new efficiency!

Gemini procrastinates because it's multi-tasking: write in 12 Across, text John Doe, place that order online … WHOOPS WHAT'S THAT SHINY THING OVER THERE BERIGHTBACK!?

Cancer procrastinates because it has to make a mix tape to express how it feels about it before it can do it.

Leo procrastinates because it can. The peasants will just have to wait.

Virgo procrastinates because it requires something to be done perfectly and since it will never be perfect, it must never come to be!

Libra procrastinates because it simply can't decide what to do!

Scorpio procrastinates because it's got to get to the bottom of what's really going on before it can do anything about it.

Sagittarius procrastinates because it simply would rather be doing something more fun, and has gone off to do just that.

Capricorn procrastinates because it hasn't delegated, and therefore must do everything.

Aquarius procrastinates because it has to do it in a way no one else has done it yet.

Pisces procrastinates because it hasn't made it back down to earth yet.

Yes, I'm writing this instead of working on what I'm 'supposed' to be working on. That's the beauty of it!

Which Astrological Sign Am I Really? Beyond the 13th Sign Ophiuchus Debate

Today I got a question from a client of mine who has been experimenting with Vedic astrology. He was wondering about his sun sign because in the Vedic system of astrology, he's a Leo, but in Western astrology, he's a Virgo. He said he was really identifying with the creativity of Leo and feeling stifled by Virgo. He was unsure of which sign he really is and asked me which one was "real".

I really welcome this kind of question. It really opens the door to think about what astrology really is and what it can do beyond simplistic categorization of personality traits. It's an elegant system, but it is by no means as tidy as we'd like to think. Many people who are against or ambivalent about astrology balk at it because they can't believe that life can be reduced to 12 boxes–and they're right.

But even in more complex astrology, there is still the great mystery of life and its meaning. Astrology, like many other tools used to try and divine meaning and truth (psychology and other sciences are among them, not just tools of the so-called 'new age'), is not about definites, but about the act itself: sitting in the question and using a tool to focus one's attention on the question often yields results, even if that tools is simply two hands folded in prayer, to any god you like.


So here's what I told my client. What would you have said?
Opening-quotes First of all, it makes sense that you'd identify with Leo to some extent. Leo is firey and you have two very strong elements in fire: Sagittarius rising and Sagittarius south node in the first house (possibly the most firey of all influences in your chart). Also, you have Venus in Leo. So there are plenty of factors in your western chart to 'explain' the identification with Leo.

Second, you might be going through something personal right now that wants to embody what you think Leo represents. Just for speculation, I could imagine that if someone was feeling thwarted or stifled for reasons they are unsure of or aren't sure what to do about, then identifying with a symbol that seems to mean more freedom and creativity would certainly give them hope, "true" or not.

This would be less of an astrological right or wrong thing as much as what symbols, metaphors, and archetypes speak to you, inside and outside of astrology. Astrology doesn't 'make you', it's just labels, and it can be useful because understanding the labels sometimes helps you understand more about what's inside. So if you don't want to be a Virgo because you don't like the sign, in a way you can't just change the label and make it true, yet in another way, the label doesn't actually matter anyway in a sense that it's what's inside that matters – the label is only to aid in deciphering the inside. "Mislabeling" something wouldn't change what it is, only the perception of what it is.

And third, perhaps the Vedic system as metaphor and philosophy just makes more sense to you. There are plenty of people form whom that's true (try almost ALL of India at least!) That's a big question that astrologers can't really agree on an answer to amongst themselves anyway. Some astrologers have tried to reconcile it by saying Vedic seems more true for fateful, event-based questions and Western for personality/psychology. Some choose sides. For me, I honestly (and not just to be politically correct, but sincerely) think whatever tool you use, western astrology, vedic astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, dice, tea leaves, phrenology, throwing the bones, runes, or any other silly thing is merely just a tool through which to 'scry', to divine meaning. So they are all 'real' to me, so long as as they are used skillfully and with clear intent. So, this, in a way, is a discomforting answer if you're looking for definition or certainty. But it's an answer that permits a lot of personal experimentation and freedom.

Closing-quotes One more thing: astrology is truly only as good as its interpreter. Each sign and planet have a spectrum of traits and that spectrum is wide. Many people, for example, will think that their sign doesn't fit them at all, when really it's not the sign that's flawed, it's the narrow and sometimes poor interpretations of fallible  humans trying to dumb down a vast archetype into 20 'key'words or less. Hence everyone thinking that Scorpios are all about sex, and  Virgos are always  critical and all Cancers think about is having babies. Pop astrology and the true art of astrology are frighteningly far apart.

Whatever the reason for questioning one's astrological 'label', you are the final word on you.

Incidentally, a very interesting book was written a few years back called Under One Sky, in which several different astrologers employing different astrological interpretation techniques analyzed the same chart. Quite interesting!

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