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I Think I Can: Jupiter in Virgo & Self-Efficacy

“I think I can, I think I can,” said The Little Engine That Could. This sweet sentiment about the power of believing in yourself gets a storybook train up a hill. A happy ending in a children’s book is one thing, but how does it measure up in real life? Can believing we will be successful actually assist in creating that success?

Self-efficacy is an idea researched and championed by psychologist Albert Bandura, and is defined as the extent to which a person believes in their own competence. A simplified version of this might be the saying “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Jupiter and Self-Efficacy Beliefs
In astrology, Jupiter is the cosmic YES. Jupiter deals in the currencies of hope, faith, optimism, enthusiasm, potential, expansion, and confidence. When we take a risk in hopes that it will lead to good things that we can only visualize, we call on Jupiter. Jupiter is the planet of luck, but it’s not always passive. Lucky people simply say yes to the Universe’s nudges more often. They open the door when opportunity knocks.

Jupiter’s location in our own chart can reveal some natural talents and even the ways in which we underestimate what we’re really capable of; it reveals how and where we need to say yes to ourselves and the Universe more often. Yes doesn’t always sound like “yes!” Sometimes it sounds like “maybe I can do this” or “what if?”

The astrological symbolism of the Jupiter principle is reflected in the power of positive self-efficacy beliefs. It turns out, when we think we can succeed, we may actually increase our chances of achieving that success.

How self-efficacy beliefs affect our success
One of the deciding factors in deciding to undertake a task or set a goal is whether or not we think we will succeed. We visualize scenarios in our minds in an effort to try and determine how likely our success is. If we have no hope of success, we won’t commit to something. These visualizations don’t determine whether we will be successful, but they illustrate whether we think we’ll be successful.

Yet, this is a critical step. Our self-efficacy beliefs matter so much because the visualizations we create can stem from our belief in our competence and in turn, our actions or inactions stem from these visualizations. People with high self-efficacy beliefs are more likely to envision successful scenarios whereas people with low self-efficacy beliefs tend to focus on visualizations which emphasize what may go wrong. “What’s the worst that could happen?” we may ask ourselves, and how we answer this question is a measure of self-efficacy.

People with high self-efficacy beliefs also tend to be more willing to undertake a challenging goal and persist in their efforts to overcome obstacles when striving for their goal because they have a strong belief in their own competence. They are more likely to bounce back more quickly from setbacks and self-doubts that setbacks may generate. People with low self-efficacy beliefs are less likely to undertake difficult tasks and are more likely to rate difficult tasks with higher levels of impossibility. They also don’t recover from setbacks as easily and lose faith in their capabilities more quickly, giving up before the task is accomplished or more readily accepting a moderate success (a consolation prize) in place of what they truly want.

Belief = Success?
Most of us realize that our own attitudes about ourselves have a strong effect on how we experience life. It’s important to realize that one’s belief about oneself doesn’t determine skill or guarantee success or failure objectively. A high level of self-confidence doesn’t create skill in the absence of training, experience, or some degree of natural talent, but our belief in ourselves and our own abilities can serve as a springboard for our motivations, which can lead to actions, which can lead to accomplishments. Self-efficacy beliefs affect thought patterns that may be self-aiding or self-hindering.

It is widely believed that misjudgment produces dysfunction. Certainly, gross miscalculation can create problems. However, optimistic self-appraisals of capability that are not unduly disparate from what is possible can be advantageous, whereas veridical judgments can be self limiting. When people err in their self-appraisals, they tend to overestimate their capabilities.

This is a benefit rather than a cognitive failing to be eradicated. If self-efficacy beliefs always reflected only what people could do routinely, they would rarely fail but they would not mount the extra effort needed to surpass their ordinary performances. –  Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory Bandura, Albert

If Indiana Jones didn’t think he could make it across the chasm in a leap of faith and take that risk, the holy grail might never have been found!

Jupiter in Virgo
Jupiter is traveling through the sign of Virgo from August 11, 2015 until September 9th, 2016. Grandiose Jupiter traveling through the humble sign of Virgo may seem like an ill fit, but in fact, this is an opportunity to grow in ways that are measurable, an invitation to increase our competence through efficient and consistent progress. Virgo has a great deal of respect for process and hard work. Jupiter in Virgo is where the rubber meets the road, where confidence and faith gain traction to actually create real results.

We can think of Jupiter as our cosmic life coach, encouraging us to reach for the stars, to try what we haven’t before, and brave that risk to make a potential, a dream, come true. In Virgo, Jupiter isn’t just a cheerleader; it has real homework for you. Where Virgo lies in your chart represents the area(s) of life where small, persistent steps will make all the difference over the next year. As astrologer Molly Hall says, “Jupiter in Virgo is a path of being happy when productive.  Some trust comes with this transit, that if there’s a regular investment in your work, the lucky breaks will come.

genius-is-1-inspiration-and

Enough is Not Quite Enough
With all the good things that a high level of self-efficacy seems to bring, it sounds like we would all be best served by embracing a delusional self-confidence. True, the location of this ‘gas giant’ can also reveal where we might just be full of hot air, so to speak. There are obviously problems that arise on the opposite end of the spectrum when we hugely overestimate our abilities, such as constantly promising what we can’t deliver and perpetually failing in that which we were sure we would succeed.

Our self-assessment is subjective, and a higher level of self-efficacy belief can serve to motivate and inspire us, making us more willing to stretch ourselves, try new things, and reach for our potential–all experiences that are at the heart of what Jupiter represents. Low self-efficacy beliefs actually discourage growth because we are reluctant to risk; we believe we will fail before we’ve even begun. Research seems to show that a level of self-efficacy which is just above our actual ability is optimal, because it pushes us to strive for the possible but without a delusion that we are superhuman. If you believe you can fly, strive for it! But don’t leap blindly off a building and literally expect wings to grow from your back. That’s a metaphor, folks. Jupiter in Virgo is not about inflated self-confidence but about the real ways we can turn our belief in ourselves into real action.

Apply it!
How high is your self-efficacy? How can you increase it? Here’s an interesting (non-scientific) quiz you can take to get the conversation with yourself started.

Where is Jupiter lighting up your chart? Share in the comments!

Don’t know where Jupiter is pushing you to fly? Create your free chart at astro.com


References:

There’s a lot more nuance to this idea of self-efficacy, including more precise definitions, what kinds of things our self-efficacy rating may be based on, and the difference between self-efficacy and just general self-confidence. Check out these sources to find out more:

What is Self-Efficacy? by Kendra Cherry

Self-Efficacy by Albert Bandura

Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory by Albert Bandura

Generalized Self-Efficacy (GSE) is differentiated from Bandura’s definition of Self-Efficacy. The former centers on the idea of general confidence in one’s abilities in a variety of situations, whereas Bandura’s definition is said to be situationally specific. See Measuring General Self-Efficacy.

Many beliefs are tied to our self-efficacy rating, such as our self-esteem, or how much control we believe we have over the events in our lives (locus of control). 

“I think I can” canvas art is created by and available from Red Bicycle Designs.

The resilience of our belief in our self-efficacy is what’s especially important. One can always get a shot of confidence in the arm, but those who tend toward high levels of belief in themselves over the long term tend to be able to persist where others give up.

It’s also important to realize that one’s self-efficacy beliefs can be influenced in a number of ways, not just by one’s own personal belief, but also by the positive reinforcement and encouragement we get from others. This is a reason why support groups can actually work.

Saturn’s Ingress into Scorpio, October 2012


Saturn-in-scorpio
Saturn has been traveling through Libra since essentially late 2009 until it enters Scorpio on October 5, 2012. It will deep dive through Scorpio until December 23, 2014, with a brief dip back in June of 2015 for three months.


RulesSaturn represents all things structural and  defining, such as buildings, bones, laws and rules (cultural and literal), and limits. It also represents the natural laws in life, what we might call ‘reality’, such as the march of time, in/action and consequence, and the inevitability of change. Up until Uranus was discovered, Saturn was the last of the 7 planets used in astrology and represented the finality of death and judgment (and still does, as the remainder of three planets are about transcending death and limits in various ways).

Scorpio is all things deep, raw, frightening, passionate, death, sex, fears, psychology, the underworld, our subconscious, and breaking through taboo.

I’m sure we’re all giddy with excitement at the thought of this upcoming shift!

 

Saturn in Scorpio on the Collective Level

Saturn pushes us toward maturity, and one meaning for maturity is simply ripening. The time will naturally ripen for the issues that Scorpio represents: sex, death, bringing taboos to light, and facing fears.
It would not be surprising to find the Saturn in Scorpio period highlighting the need for humanity to take responsibility for their sexual abilities, problems, and consequences. The gay marriage issue will probably continue to escalate and concrete attempts at lawmaking around the issue will continue to cascade, as Scorpio rules sexual union and merging. This will be carrying forward the Saturn in Libra work of pushing the issue of equality on all fronts, including but not limited to gay marriage.

The abortion battleground (Scorpio rules our reproductive system) will likely be heightened even more than it already is, coming to a point where decisions and laws must be made (although it’s doubtful that these issues will be thoroughly solved and humming along in order in this one Saturn in Scorpio passage!).

The realities of handling the practicalities (Saturn) of death and dying will likely reach a new peak, as more baby boomers are entering the range of elder.


Pluto, the ruling sign of Scorpio, is traveling through Saturn’s sign of Capricorn, so this mutual reception (when two planets are in each other’s home sign) means that Pluto’s already been at work on this for a while, and will continue to be breaking these things down and opening them up, but it looks like Saturn will probably have to push us against the wall of reality and force us to adapt, grow, and build new structures to accommodating our changing realities.


Pointing at each otherDuring Saturn in Libra, the stalemate of polarization and lack of compromise became evident. Sides will still continue to be chosen and defended, but with an even greater amount of ferocity, if that’s possible, as Scorpio brings a life or death, black or white, all or nothing energy with it. It is usually this extreme force that is required to provoke the Scorpionic level of transformation (destruction followed by rebirth/renewal) in the first place since Scorpio is a fixed sign—it doesn’t gradually change and it’s not flexible. It holds on until it’s time to die, and then it races toward the experience and bursts from the flame—hence the symbol of the Phoenix being so representative of Scorpio. 


I am no mundane astrologer (astrology of places and events). It’s the world within an individual rather than the world at large that I am drawn to and for which I have more insight. There are countless ways that I have not yet imagined which Saturn in Scorpio will manifest, obviously, but I think these topics will be the biggies.

 


Saturn in Scorpio on the Individual Level

On an individual level, we’ll be learning to manage our own intensity. Saturn encourages taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives, and acting responsibly as well. We will be working with both ends of the Scorpio spectrum: power and powerlessness. On one hand we are needing to recognize that we have to control and manage our fear, rage, power hunger, obsession, jealousy, or any other number of extreme emotions because we are responsible for the actions we take or don’t take as a result, and/or needing to recognize that we must face our own power (or powerlessness) and recognize the consequences of hiding from it or trying to stifle it out of fear, only to have it blow up in our faces in displaced, rage-filled rants or internally crystallized as pain and illness. We all have some kind of power, and we all have the ability to misuse it. Some of us may find that we need to be mindful of the ways we can hurt others, sometimes with serious consequences, when we misuse it. 

Rope cutSaturn work often begins with unsticking what’s stuck, but while Saturn may be more about the gradual work and daily maintenance approach, in Scorpio we may all be looking at confronting the ‘grow or die’ energy of this configuration in the area of our chart where Scorpio rules, having to face what’s not working in our lives, and what hasn’t been working for a long time, especially where fear is the culprit for stopping growth (and isn’t it always!?). We must be willing to find the courage to push it over in order to reb uild it, which means we have to be without it, or anything like it, for a time before we create something new. It’s the fear of having nothing that often leads us to holding onto the broken something we have, but letting it go is the only way forward. We have to go into the dark before it gets light again, sometimes simply because all the subtle or easy fixes either haven’t worked or we’re just past the point of no return. “It’s not going to go away” Saturn will say, as it sits on your shoulder, following you to work, to bed, to school.

Wherever Saturn travels through your chart during this 2-1/2 year period will be where you simply can’t ignore what you know in your gut is true, even if you don’t want to know it and wish it weren’t true and have been trying to fool yourself and want to just hang on a little longer. Just like we tell our children to summon the courage to open the closet door and prove to themselves that no monster is there, we must do the same.

"A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them." – Carl Jung

Woman blackwhite confidentThe reward of Saturn in Scorpio is as bounteous as the work. Saturn doesn’t promise rewards – that is up to you. But if you do the work, and peel away the mirage, the ‘window dressing’ as a friend calls it, and look at what’s really there (the monster that you think just might eat you), you will almost certainly live through it, and when you do, you will liberate yourself in a way that was not possible otherwise.

Scorpio demands we pass through the flame, not around it. Through Saturn in Scorpio, it is hard experience that makes us wiser, no matter how much our mother lectured us about the exact same thing!
Scorpio is about power and powerlessness, not in a worldly sense, but in the sense that we are all human and all are vulnerable to annihilation. Living with the knowledge of life and death in a visceral way is fri ghtening, but it need to not be depressing; this knowledge can fill us with “liveliness, not deathliness” as my mentor, Steven Forrest, has said to me. Stripped away of all a decaying, frail structure that we have tried to trap our fears under, we are able to create new, lasting things in our lives that fulfill our deepest priorities as only a knowledge that we have one life to live can.

Scorpio fills us with a hunger, a yearning to know, to experience, and to pass through, not around, the force of live and living it, even while our ego works to avoid that which might render us powerless or vulnerable. Where do you need to stop putting the fake smile on? Where do you need to settle for nothing less than the truth? What has fear prevented you from doing that is now reaching a critical point? Saturn in Libra had us learning each other’s dance and trying not to step on each other’s feet, but while negotiation is a useful and needed skill, a side effect can be inauthenticity, which Scorpio will not tolerate. The gloves are off. True colors will be seen. Say what you need to say, not out of cruelty or an attempt to prove your power to yourself and others – that will only take you back down the road of misusing power and having consequences slap you in the face – but out of a willingness to be honest and free, even if you feel vulnerable and scared when you strip off that (false) protection.

Where Scorpio resides in your chart represents the area of life where you will be asked to peel off the bandaid (or it may just be ripped off for you), to face fears and acknowledge truths (even if you fear being undone) and accept responsibility for the consequences of doing so.

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!

Rethinking Venus: Venus Retrograde in Scorpio

As with any craft, the longer you're in it, the deeper you want to go into its components to get better and better at it overall. Most people understand that after you've been doing something a long time and can do it in your sleep, you can get bored with your craft. I've been doing astrology long enough to fall prey to the boredom, I'm sure, but I never get bored.

Instead, I get confused.

I know all the puzzle pieces in astrology. Insert planet A into sign B and all that. Some people might say I've even gotten pretty good at twisting those pieces around into little pockets of meaning (I did write a book and all, I suppose). While many people spend time trying to figure out the next new puzzle on their horizon such as midpoints or sesquiquadrates or the elusive triple-yod-summersault-dismount trickybob, I like to dig as deeply as I can into the elegance of the core components of astrology: the planets, signs, and houses; to re-enchant myself with the foundations themselves. I know it's time for another excavacation when suddenly everything I seem to know about one of these components simply dissolves when I try to pick it up. File empty. These days, ask me about Venus and I'll search my brain's database, only to find that the files have been stolen and a sticky note left in its place: "I.O.U."

And then, like a good little Virgo with Capricorn Rising, I panic and fret while all the while trying to fake it so I can keep my reputation in good standing. Yes, yes, Venus, yes. Be right with you. Just, um, gathering my thoughts and opening up my programs. Wait, where's my laser pointer and my headset?!

Venus de milo It's not that I've forgotten the keywords. I can recite them just as well as the next good little astrological monkey. Venus: Relationships, Charm, Beauty, Creativity, Art, and so on. But it's not enough to parrot the words inherited from every beginning astrology book one's read. This 8th house girl has to know WHY? What are the roots that have birthed these branches? It's come time for me to dig into the very soil from which our modern understanding of the Venus archetype has grown. So I'm dutifully going about it in Gemini south node fashion: a stack of books and a list of mp3 workshop recordings, and back to the myths themselves to do my own distillation process. Hopefully when I stir them all in the 8th-house pot, the themes, truths, and patterns will rise to the Neptune-in-Sagittarius-conjunct-my-north-node frothy top.

Is it a coincidence that I've got the Venus Research bug as it retrogrades in Scorpio, the sign of research and mysteries, over my Midheaven? Goddess, I hope not!

I hope to have more to offer in the future, but my preliminary findings (one with Cap Rising must talk like that to sound official, you do understand) have drawn my attention to the trouble with the white-washed Venus that has been most celebrated. Venus wants to make everything 'pretty', just like herself, right? She wants us all to get along and play nice, or at least pretend to play nice. I'm not interested in standing on a feminism soapbox here as much as I'm interested in wholeness, as in, don't just show me the pretty parts, show me all of it (even you, Venus). It's not about finding the tabloid dirt on Venus to prove how ugly she really is. What really intrigues me is the definition of beauty itself, beyond the symmetry of faces or the argument of pastels over fluorescents. I found this paragraph from Anne Massey's book Venus: Her Cycles, Symbols & Myths to be particularly provocative:

Our view of Venus has become sanitized over the centuries, removing whatever we as a society are not comfortable accepting. This would naturally account for the fact that we still like to place women on pedestals where we can admire their beauty (and no doubt lament the lack of our own in some way by comparison, I'd like to add). Fashion magazines are a prime example. The faces of women who grace the pages have been airbrushed to the extent that there appear to be no lines, creases, or imperfections, let alone a wrinkle or a laugh line. With each brush stroke, a part of the woman's personality has been erased. (italics mine, bold added)

Venus is retrograding through Scorpio right now (I think I mentioned that!), creating a seemingly perfect time for us all to ask questions about the raw truth that lies beneath any image of beauty or any bonds of love. In marital love, for example, we recognize the lines from the age-old vow: "for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part." Well. We can certainly recognize Saturn's stamp on all of that. After all, until death do us part is pretty committed and serious. But we can recognize Venus in it too, I hope (especially in Scorpio). The depth of the passion in a commitment like that has to be profound.

We don't like to think about it, but Scorpio knows the frightening truth of love in the face of poorer, sickness, and death. As Venus retrogrades through this sign, perhaps we are being shown what is terribly beautiful in its power and horror, not just pretty or easy. Singer Lily Allen (May 2 1985) has just lost her baby at 6 months pregnant, while Venus in Scorpio retrograded right over her Pluto. Love meets horror and loss? You betcha.

So what is my point, that Venus, and especially Venus in Scorpio, is actually ugly, frightening, painful and ultimately ends in death? No, it's even worse. That the face of Venus that is love, human love, contains all those things, Scorpio or not. Retrograde or not. It also contains timelessness, ascension, safety through the howling winds that life blows at us sometimes, vulnerability in the best sense, and every love song you've ever heard. Let's honor its raw and provocative power that isn't always pretty, but supersedes prettiness with its elegance and flawed purity.

This is one of the best Venus in Scorpio photos I know, and surprise, surprise, it has nothing to do with leather, vampires, or heavy eye makeup:

Elderlylove
photo credit: unknown. Do you know? Please comment and let me in on it!

So how does the chart reveal the similarities but the differences alike? There are a few theories, such as the idea that twins 'split up' the chart's energies and express some traits stronger than their twin or that environmental factors make up the other half of the astrological picture, that external stimulus and life events dictate how each twin uses their chart to respond to life. Or is it the core of modern astrology and the belief in free will: that no one can predict what an individual soul's choices will be, only their lessons, struggles, and strengths?

Countdown to your Soulmate? Love, Astrology, and Fate

With the Sun in Libra, the horoscopes inevitably turn to relationship talk. But with Saturn in Libra too, we're focusing not on true love or happily ever after, but how to make these things real. What are the real steps to finding love and making it last? How do we know we're with the 'right' person? Forget the romance of soul mates, Saturn says. Once you find love, how do you manage to live with them and stay in love?

Astrology, at least predictive astrology, tracks life's internal (and external) clock. The timing of events–when they'll take place and what they might be–is a big deal in astrology, and the biggest question is often When will I get married/find love? Even more important than wealth, a successful career, or a healthy mental attitude, the question of love seems to top the charts.

Can astrology tell you when you'll meet the one? Some astrologers say no. Some astrologers say maybe.

What if a clock, astrological or not, could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate?



In the movie Timer, Oona is dying to meet her soulmate. She obsesses about it and her decisions about life and relationships, even casual ones, are marked by it. She's a woman with a mission. Her timer is blank, which means her soulmate, wherever he is, has not yet had a timer implanted himself. Oona tentatively dates men without timers, convincing them to get one as soon as she can bring it up, so she can see if they are her 'one'. "What's the point in continuing without a guarantee?" she says.

So many questions are brought up by this concept; my Libran Mercury in the 9th house is spinning with weighing the options. Your timer doesn't guarantee you'll instantly like/love the person. It will only identify that they are your soulmate. What if you meet your soulmate before you're even of an age to sustain a mature relationship? What if you get a timer and it says you won't meet your soulmate until your 50s or beyond? And if you're not due to meet your soulmate until much later, do you abstain from relationship and sex until you find your one like Oona, or do you have fling after fling like Steph? What if you accidentally fall in love with someone who's not your soulmate? Gasp! And the big one: should you get one or not?

Would you opt for one? Why or why not?

The timer brings up more questions than just whether or not one has a soulmate. It's based on a big assumption that fate is in precise operation; not just fate in love, but fate in life: that your decisions will lead you to the same place as the decisions of one other specific person and you will meet up at the right and fateful moment. Can't miss. While some people believe in fate to that extent, others think this idea sounds absurd. Yet that's exactly what happens every day – two people find themselves in the right place at the right time and begin a relationship. If it leads nowhere, they think nothing of it. But if it leads to happily ever after, they may look back and think about 'that fateful day,' saying things like "little did we know that our lives were about to change forever…"

Is astrology our timer? Not implanted in our wrist, but in our very DNA, as symbolized by our entrance on earth at an exact moment? This astrologer thinks its not that easy. But nevermind that land mine; try this one on for size: The timer brings up the same question that astrology does for a lot of people:

Do you want to know your future?

It's fun to speculate which signs may want to know the future and which wouldn't. Earth signs Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn might like it so they can plan for the future (and Capricorn will probably take it all the way to the couples retirement plan and have a honeymoon savings account). Fire signs Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, with their love of living in the moment, may not enjoy being confined to a feeling of fatefulness, no matter how lovely the prize. Aquarius might say not out of a distate for being so predictable. Gemini might be too curious to avoid it, and try getting a final answer about the question out of Libra! And the mysterious water signs: I can picture Cancer, with it's desire for security leaving it wanting to know, but I think the water signs in general, including Scorpio and especially Pisces, could go either way: loving the obsession or the romance of it all or respecting the mystery of life and its ability to change and to surprise us, like a moving river.

If the answer can be reduced to an equation in the natal chart, it certainly isn't just sun sign.

But what about the timing of love in astrology, you say? Many say there are time-honored and accurate techniques in predicting love and marriage. But the astrology I've encountered merely shows me potential and freedom in those potentials. If your progressed Venus croses into your 7th house, are you destined to get married, meet your best friend, or begin an art business with a female partner? The potentials are just that: potentials.

So, soul mates, yay or nay? And if so, would you want to know? Here's some wise words in closing from one of my favorite tv gals, whom I have to say, I agree with for the most part:



(ignore the subtitles!)

Constance McMillen: Uranus and the Art of Being Yourself


Constance mcmillen photo Constance McMillen is the 18 year old Mississippi girl that wanted to bring her girlfriend to the prom and sparked nationwide interest when her request was denied, her prom cancelled, and a 'decoy' prom created as an attempt to satisfy and thus silence her.
Perhaps some may
say it's old news by this time, but Constance McMillen caught my
attention again today and I decided to have a look at her chart.

Constance was born January 5th, 1992,1 during the Uranus Neptune conjunction in Capricorn. She's also a Capricorn Sun, so she's carrying quite a bit of Capricorn energy, as are many kids around her age.2

Without a birth time, only the planet in sign placements can be determined, which is unfortunate, but still so revealing. Constance has 4 planets in Capricorn, the Sun, Moon, Uranus, and Neptune, as well as her north node, all lined up in one big stellium cluster.3


Constance-mcmillen-natal-ch Her Sun and Uranus in a tight conjunction so the very core character traits and principles that make up
her identity (Sun) are fused to the process of individuation (Uranus): sifting through what one's been conditioned to be by society, family, the media, etc. and discarding what doesn't ring authentically true about who you really are.

A strong Uranus is a classic signature for rebellion, yet Constance has said sincerely in interviews that she did not intend to do it to be rebellious or cause an uproar, she simply wanted to be herself and go to her own school's prom, as she felt should be her right. "I'm not going to go to prom and pretend I'm not gay. There's no point"–she said in an interview on Ellen. With Uranus principles being such a core component of her identity, Constance's challenge isn't to rebel against societal pressure as much as it is to be independent of it, to be able to know what is right for who she is and assert that, live that truth. Rebellion happens on the frequent occasion that what we want isn't in alignment with what others want us to be, and we have to break from convention and disappoint and annoy others. But Uranus itself is pursuing your own Truth and your inherent human right to do so.

Neptune is conjunct her Sun on the other side, also rather closely, aligning her identity with a strong sense of idealism, and a consciousness pointed toward the highest and purest ideals. Neptune can also represent a place in our lives where our personal boundaries are low. Neptune is where we are open, spiritually, empathetically, and intuitively. Yet Uranus often represents where we have strong boundaries, even when we don't necessarily intend to, because our apparent and inherent differences from the mainstream become most obvious with Uranus' location in our chart (and the area of life that it's location represents). So we naturally feel a boundary, a distance from others, in this area of our lives.

With Neptune close to her Sun as well, and her relative youth and inexperience, there is a vulnerability to overidentifying with the ideal, what she's representing on a larger scale overpowering her own sense of self. She could get swept up into others' well-meaning plan for her by using her to push an agenda, which would be just as problematic for her, in a way, as it would be for her to have compromised her rights and personal truth in the first place by allowing authorities to tell her who she can and can't accompany to prom.


Aclu It's a good thing she's got
experienced advocates on her side, such as her mother's friends (elders=Capricorn) who encouraged her to go to the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union)  and the ACLU itself, an organization (organizations & institutions = Capricorn) dedicated to equal human rights on many fronts. With all her Capricorn in her chart, she will benefit from experienced elders showing her the way to achieve her goals, but she is inherently developing self-sufficiency and the ability to self-govern. Building a strong sense of identity over her life will incorporate her becoming stronger and more committed to living according to her own integrity and ability to stay clear about her personal goals and agenda.

She comes from the small part of a generation that had Uranus and Neptune actually conjunct in Capricorn, a mini generation that seems like it will be the new lawmakers, who will not only revolutionize (Uranus) the law-making process but also create new rules based on an ideal (Neptune) of individual rights (Uranus). It's appropriate that she's utilizing an organization (the ACLU) to change the rules themselves, rather than just rebelling outside of the system, which would not bring about the system changes that represent the actual changes needed. Uranus and Neptune in Capricorn is about a vision of making people outside of conventional definitions have a place within the system. That's a tall order!

She's also part of the Pluto in Scorpio generation which is carrying the work begun by the Pluto in Libra generation of marriage equality into the sexual freedom component of the marriage issue, pushing the taboo of "alternative" sexual preferences into the light, perhaps even making them less 'alternative' than ever before.

But back to Constance herself. She's not an attention getter. Her south node is in Cancer, which is typically a more introverted and cautious energy, and her wealth of Capricorn tends to present a more conservative style of self-expression. Her Mercury and Mars are conjunct each other in Sagittarius, another indication of a girl with passion for her ideas and ideals. Saturn lies in Aquarius, indicating it's difficult for her to do the work of allowing herself to be truly herself. It will take discipline to step out of the Capricornian desire for others to view her as respectable without catering to rules that are not appropriate for her. She's probably a good, down to earth student (3.86 gpa!) who happens to have been thrust into the spotlight for doing the difficult but ultimately self-affirming work of just being herself. Applause!

1: Birth Data Source: Constance's MySpace Blog
2: The Uranus Neptune conjunction in Capricorn was in effect from 1990 to 1994, with the strongest periods in 1992 & 1993.
3: Since no birth time is known, the moon's position is potentially false. However, it was in the sign of Capricorn all day, so her Moon must be in the sign of Capricorn, although if she were born in the evening, it will be further separated from the stellium.

Photo credit: AP Photo via McMillen's family

What is Evolutionary Astrology?

Evolutionary Astrology is a term that has been coined by Steven Forrest and Jeff Green, to refer to a set of techniques as well as a philosophy in practicing astrology. Evolutionary astrology (often referred to in shorthand as simply "EA") is practiced in an individual way by each practitioner, but there are basic ideas1 that are central to the core of its philosophy and its techniques.

 

The Philosophy: EvoluButterfly with
chain handstion


 Evolution
ary Astrology. It's most basic principle is right in its name: that humans evolve, over the course of their life as well as from lifetime to lifetime. Reincarnation is at the core of evolutionary astrology philosophy, but it's not so much a doctrine as it is a natural observation in that babies and children don't seem to be entirely a product of their environment; there seems to be something inherent in their personality, their needs and desires (above merely the physical needs for food and emotional need for safety & love). There is 'someone home' even in a new being, so evolutionary astrology seeks to understand what came before.

 Evolutionary astrology orients around the natal chart from the perspective that the chart reflects the past, the present, and the future. The chart reveals the past by showing the orientation of the soul as it entered this life, and what came before. It reveals the future by illustrating what the purpose of the incarnation is and why someone has the birth chart they have in the first place. The present unfolds in the entire dynamic of the natal chart 'toolbox' as we make choices in how to use those tools over the course of our life.

What is the natural orientation of this soul and what did this soul
bring forward with it as it begins this life? What is the purpose for
the incarnation at all? What has this soul come to learn or experience?
Evolutionary astrology looks at these questions by looking at the birth
chart as essentially the toolbox, the character traits that soul has
come to develop and the lessons its come to learn to fulfill it's reason
for the incarnation to begin with. The birth chart is not what you are,
it's what you're becoming.

 In a way, evolutionary astrology is very similar to psychological astrology or any kind of spiritual/karmic view of astrology. It is about digging deeper than prediction or character trait analysis, to reveal the chart as a more dynamic soul plan rather than just a snapshot of one's sealed fate. Evolutionary astrology also comes with a set of techniques that further differentiate it.



Glasses on star map The Techniques: Pluto and the Nodes


Aside from the fact that evolutionary astrology interprets every sign, planet, and house as a range of possibilities rather than the perspective of fate or only a possibility of one outcome, such as Saturn in the 7th house means you'll never marry or Jupiter in the 2nd house means you'll be rich, there are techniques above and beyond this perspective to coax forth the past and future elements of the chart.

The Lunar Nodes2

To put it simply, the South Node of the Moon, and everything connected with it, including the sign and house placement, its sign ruler, and any planets in aspect to it, tell the story of the past life or lives: what came before. The North Node of the Moon, its sign ruler, and any planets in aspect to it, tell the story of the way forward: the purpose of incarnation. The planets in aspect to either node as well as their planetary sign rulers have a dual meaning: how to develop and use what the planet represents as a tool in the present life and how it's been a factor in past life conditioning as well.

Pluto and Pluto's Polarity Point

There are several ways that the techniques of Jeff Green and Steven Forrest differ. However, one of the primary differences is in the use of Pluto. Students of Steven Forrest use the south node condition as described above to reveal the past life intent & desires and the north node condition as the future intent, the way forward. Students of Jeff Green use Pluto as representative of the soul's past intent & desires and the opposite 'empty space' of Pluto, it's "polarity point", to represent the future intent, the way forward. The north and south nodes of the moon are still used, but as a further illustration of how Pluto and its polarity point are actualized in the life.

This material, regardless of method, is rich and vast, and its nuances astounding, but those stories lie outside of this simple Introduction to Evolutionary Astrology.

 


1 For a more formal list of the core elements of Evolutionary Astrology's philosophy: http://www.forrestastrology.com/General-Astrology/what-is-evolutionary-astrology

 

2 The north and south lunar nodes are not planets, they are found by looking at where the Moon crosses the path of the Sun as it appears to circle the
earth, which it will do twice: once going north, once going south.

Want to learn Evolutionary Astrology? Contact Amy for formal study options. Here are some self-study options:

Recommended Reading

By Amy Herring:

By Steven Forrest:

  • The Inner Sky (natal)
  • The Book of Pluto (natal)
  • The Changing Sky (transits & progressions)
  • Skymates 1 (Synastry) and 2 (Composite)
  • Yesterday's Sky (past lives and the nodes)

By Jeff Green and Deva Green:

  • Pluto Vol 1: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul (natal)
  • Pluto Vol 2: The Soul's Evolution Through Relationships (natal but in view of relationship needs)
  • Evolutionary Astrology: Pluto and Your Karmic Mission / Deva Green
  • Forthcoming: Insights into Evolutionary Astrology / Jeff Green and more, edited by Rose Marcus

Jupiter in Astrology: Looking Beyond Luck

Jupiter isolatedMany think of Jupiter as the planet of luck. This is true, but the word 'luck' sells Jupiter short, telling only half of the story. Luck is defined as something desirable that just happens to a person by chance, out of their control, fated. It is true that where Jupiter lies in our chart might be an area of our life where we might find a sort of guardian angel at work, or where we may be able to narrowly slip out of scrapes more easily than some people. But the things we attribute to luck, good or bad, can often be more attributed to what we said yes or no to, the potential we allowed ourselves to see and hope for, in ourselves and in life's ability to bring good things our way.

Psychologist Richard Wiseman has been investigating luck for a decade: who thinks they've got it (or doesn't) and why? Over the years he interviewed 400 different people from both camps, lucky and unlucky, and asked them to try different experiments and report their results. He found themes among the lucky and the unlucky, and not only that; he was able to use what he discovered in the attitudes and behaviors of the lucky to help the unlucky camp become luckier. In his recent article posted on the GoodNewsNetwork, he outlined some of his cases and what we found, stating three similarities he found in the lucky vs. the unlucky. They were:

  1. Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition
  2. Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine
  3. Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune

Let's look at these ideas. First, following one's intuition. While Neptune or the Moon tend to be thought of as the planets that have the market on intuition, Jupiter is the ancient ruler of Pisces, a sign which has very much to do with intuition and believing in things that can only be seen through the eyes of spirit. Jupiter plays a special role, too, because of the faith it takes to trust one's intuition and even to act on it. Faith in this context is believing in things unseen or unproven, and that's where the Jupiterian principle of hope can come in, or a word I like to use, potential. This is not just faith in a higher power, but faith in ourselves as in confidence, or faith in life as in hope.

Door with clouds How about the pitfalls of becoming too reliant on a routine? We may think of Uranus as the planet that likes to shake things up, but Jupiter is about looking for opportunity. Jupiter is the ancient and modern ruler of Sagittarius, embodying the Saggittarian desire to expand its horizons by experiencing the broad world around it. When we are so deeply invested in our routine and our own comfort zone, we are reluctant to upset it, and therefore unwilling to take the inherent risks always involved in saying yes to something new. In addition, routine has us focusing so intently on carrying out our expectations that we may only see what we expect to see, rather than opportunities that may have always been present but are not in our narrow line of sight.

Last, seeing the positive side of one's ill fortune was the third factor Dr. Wiseman listed as present in 'lucky' people. This speaks to Jupiter's alignment with optimism. It's the classic question: is the glass half full or half empty? Either answer is true, but much is revealed in which answer a person most resonates with. Luck and whether or not a person feels lucky is rather subjective, so this is point is less about the objective measurement of how lucky someone is, but almost a measure of happiness. It's human nature to look for evidence that confirms our existing beliefs and ignore evidence that does not. So if one holds a belief that they are (or can be) lucky, openness to opportunity and gratitude for what one already has seems to follow.

The Big Leap is a book that focuses on overcoming your limitations by addressing  the attitudes and beliefs you may hold that keep you from expanding into your potential. The author, Gay Hendricks, speaks about his mentor who said something that really impacted him (paraphrasing): when we are afraid, we hold our breath. The most important thing to do when you are afraid is breathe. When you hold your breath, it's like you're bracing for impact. When you breathe into your fear, it becomes excitement. Next time Jupiter comes your way, take a breath and take a leap!

How to Interpret a Natal Chart Using the Evolutionary Astrology Method

When a student begins studying astrology, the basic components can be easily learned from a book and memorized, to a certain extent. Putting puzzle piece A together with piece B can also be done rather efficiently. But when it comes to putting the puzzle of an entire chart (and therefore an entire person) together, it can be easily overwhelming. A natal chart isn't just the sum of its parts, and must be understood on a foundational level to see how all the parts really fit together. Once the foundation is understood, themes start to emerge and you can transcend the parts and understand the whole. This is the holy grail for any student!

There are many ways to start dissecting the puzzle of a natal chart. Many people start to dive into a chart by starting with the Sun, Moon, and Rising sign so as to understand a sort of basic vignette, and then add the rest of the planets in one by one to that foundational understanding. Many people assess the bigger picture by analyzing a sort of hierarchy of planetary 'weight', such as which planets are stronger or weaker because of their dignity or debilitation (fall, exaltation, rulership, or detriment). Still others will look at groupings of planets, to determine which elements or modalities are strongest, or the Jones' patterns such as the Bucket or the See Saw. All of these are fine ways to begin, and all are an attempt to get a sense of the foundation of a chart, an understanding of the primary cornerstones of a chart on top of which everything else in the chart can rest. I'm going to illustrate a different way of discovering the foundation of a chart using the nodes.

The Chart Behind the Chart

I look at the foundation of a chart as well, but because I am an evolutionary astrologer,* I use the nodes of the moon to understand a person and a chart's foundation. I ask two questions of the chart; first, rather than trying to understand or predict what this person will do, how they will behave or what good or bad luck will befall them based on their planetary placements, I ask the chart 'Why is this person here?' Before I try to understand what someone with a Sun in Aries IS, or how they'll behave, I try and understand why that soul needs their Sun in Aries to begin with. To do that, I first start with understanding the north and south nodes of the moon: why they're here, and where they came from – the orientation they entered this life with, respectively.

Second, rather than assuming someone will epitomize all expressions of their natal chart placements as if they were a walking astrological stereotype, I assume that the chart tells me not what that person IS, but what they are becoming. Therefore, I ask the chart, 'What is this person trying to learn?' Having a birth chart represents the tool box they were given when they were born, but they still need to learn to use each tool (planet in sign and house) effectively. Once I understand the nodes, I can look at the rest of the planets in their signs and houses in the chart and understand why this person has the toolbox they do.

Mystery ActressMystery-actress-natal-chart

It's with these two things in mind that I interpret any chart, and I'll demonstrate the resulting techniques here. This
is the chart of a mystery actress. I chose a famous person because
while a famous person's life is not revealed only through what the
public knows about them, it at least gives some ability to place
biography with astrology. I will reveal her name at the end of this
interpretation. Be good! Don't skip to the end.

First I take stock of the south node, including it's sign and house, and any planets in association with it, through rulership or aspect.  What I try and do is create a metaphor from the symbols that gives a sense of where this soul's orientation was as she entered this life, and so sometimes it can be helpful to think of the south node and it's condition as giving clues to the past life of the soul that show us the attitude they may have been used to as they entered this chart and this life.

The South Node

So in this chart I'm considering Aquarius, 11th house, Saturn conjunct and ruled by Uranus in the 6th house. While many metaphors could be created from this chart's south node situation, this speaks to me of someone who felt like she was under constant restraint, (Saturn) that things were difficult or her outlook always seemed limited. With the ruler of Aquarius in the 6th house in Virgo, that emphasizes a possibility of feeling crushed under a sense of duty or too much responsibility, like the older child having to take care of the younger children if the parents are unable or unwilling to. Because of the Aquarius element, and in the 11th house, there might have also been a feeling of feeling like an odd man out, like she either only fit in with the misfits or didn't fit in at all, probably because of limited resources and maybe even poor social standing.

So this soul enters this world and probably experiences circumstances in early childhood that reinforce this orientation, sort of reliving or recreating what one is used to which lays a foundation for the soul to realize what it wants to grow out of or away from, and into the north node. The qualities of Aquarius can lend a strong sense of individuality and also detachment from others, especially in the 11th house of 'the public' or one's peers, but with Saturn there, it further emphasizes a feeling of being restrained, always having to hold in what one really is perhaps, or feeling limited because of what she is, like how class, race, or education can set one apart from a community that has a majority in a different class, race, or education level, for example.

The North Node

Moving toward the north node, we see that what this woman has come to do is get in touch with Leo, 5th house energy. Since Saturn is conjunct the south node, it is opposite the north node, and for he to be able to bring her Saturn energy forward into good use for this life, she'll need to let go of some of the old ways she may have responded to Saturn, like letting go of a habitual tendency to do things the hard way, or to hold back what she really is out of a misguided sense of individualism or out of a fear of feeling like an outcast. Leo and the 5th house experiences will help her reinforce a sense of it "being ok to be you and me," helping her be present in the moment instead of pulling away from the drama of a moment out of a fear of getting swept up, being exposed, or letting go. People and experiences that help her learn how to play, and how to let go of systematic or objective thought in situations where a more spontaneous and organic response would be better, will help her learn to trust herself and therefore enjoy herself and life more. This soul has come to feel the warmth of those who love her for who she is, and the more she is comfortable with herself, relaxes and trusts life, the more enriched she will feel.

The Toolbox

The ruler of her north node can assist her in living the soul's north node intention. The ruler of Leo, of course, is the Sun, and her Sun is in Scorpio in the 8th house. She needs to build a sense of identity which is based on a more whole and deep view of herself – not just the easy or good parts, but taking her to the depth of herself. The 8th house has been called the house of "Sex and Death," which sounds a bit strange but really, 8th house activities are anything that take us to our edges, have us braving the skeletons in our closet or our deepest fears, which is where we can also find our deepest strength and courage. In Scorpio, she does this by embracing intensity and a sort of 'all or nothing' attitude at times, as well as being willing to penetrate the pretty stories that we tell ourselves to escape from life's hard parts and really look what's beneath the surface – of life and herself.

At this point, we can start making our way around the rest of the chart to think about each placement in light of this soul's past and intent. Obviously the stellium of planets in Scorpio and the 8th house we've discussed above with the Sun, but how about the fact that Venus and Neptune and even Mercury are all in a conjunction? Venus conjunct that Sun reveals how relationships and connections with others will help her clarify her identity, and the fact that it's in Scorpio and the 8th house shows the kind of relationship she needs: one that is deep enough to say the true things and reveal the raw truths of ourselves. What an effective urge for this soul to use to break through old patterns of feeling distanced from others. With Neptune conjunct her Sun, also in Scorpio and the 8th, it is also a fundamental desire in her consciousness to open up to spiritual priorities, helping her develop a sense of strength that is based on the softness and opening effect of Neptune rather than the hardening of boundaries and closed habits of Saturn on her south node. Mercury in this house and close to Neptune has her more likely to think with fluidity and on a more intuitive level rather than strictly the objective and factual.

We can simply continue the rest of this way throughout the chart. Mars in Leo in the 5th but bridging into the 6th shows a passion for self-expression and to bring it into her work, to live her daily life with that passion and learn to surrender to the joy of a moment and the drama of a moment by letting creative ecstasy overtake her at times – in fact, much of this chart is in the fire or water element, including the ascendant, which helps to soften and open. Her Taurus Moon is like an anchor that roots her, giving her a steady heart which can help her stay solid in her own values through a basic building of her own self-esteem (2nd house), perhaps helping her let go of any shame she might have left over, perhaps even inexplicably, from the feeling of being an outsider and the more comfortable she gets with herself, the less she'll feel she has something to prove.

Everything I've discussed here can be taken deeper, but this has been an overview of how this technique works. If you're interested in learning more about the nodes in this light or seeing another example, visit my website to purchase a 4 hour video I did on the nodes: "The Chart Behind the Chart." In this video, I go into each step to analyze the nodes in detail and go through another couple of examples more thoroughly than I've done here.

This chart belongs to the actress Demi Moore.

*There are two common 'branches' of evolutionary astrology. While I am familiar with the techniques of both, and often use some of both, I am primarily trained by Steven Forrest and fall more along the lines of his interpretation of the nodes.

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