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Astrologer’s Diary: Shaping the Self in the First House

Changes
are afoot.

 

2013-07-20 21.40.31

Embody the Self Amy Herring

When your job is to assist people in identifying
their soul potential and courageously moving toward it, you've got to be walking that talk. My lack of newsletters, facebook posts, and other offerings may have seemed like I've been absent, but in truth, I've been in my 'laboratory' where I hope to eventually be able to offer you many new creations. My progressed moon has been in the first house for two years now, urging me toward a new identity, but unlike I (unconsciously) expected, the outline has not simply waiting for me to step into it. I've had to craft it from the raw materials of self, and in Aquarius, there's been no template appropriate to follow.

 

2013-07-30 17.08.26

Nonself, Amy Herring

I expected that the 12th house period was the letting go and the 1st house
would be all about the new, and it is, but I underestimated the impact of the unfamiliar. In the 12th house, I sloughed an old skin. I had no
perspective on why it was happening, and had I not had the knowledge of
the purpose of the 12th house period, I would surely have gone mad–perhaps I did a little bit anyway. But
that was just the letting go part. In the first house, I find myself  having to clear away the
debris that dropped to the floor. One needs room to work, a clean slate, and in my case, it wasn't automatic. Instead of just one big sweep, it's been tempting to sift
through it and try to figure out what parts I can save, but that's all
been an attempt to cling to an old orientation and way of life, especially when the new one isn't just sitting there like a vessel waiting to be filled.

 

When last I posted about the 1st house, I was just entering it, and I shared some of my early observations. Having been moving through it for a while now, here's a few to add to the list:

It has been exceptionally challenging for me to produce anything concrete. Blog,
reading, video, class, lecture, book – these all feel like end
products, but I am still designing blueprints. I draw on the old model
whenever I can, whenever I must, but my libido is invested in this
self-making. Finishing anything takes an act of great will, one that I don't always muster. As a double Virgo with Capricorn rising, it's been challenging to my sense of self and self-esteem to not have anything "useful" to point to, to not have a stack of contributions that I've been offering. It has been very difficult to just embody the space, trust the process, and patiently reinforce to myself that it's enough.

The first house experience is about you taking up space, you crafting your own life, so I have to light my own flame. Continually. Often. Over and over. It often goes out. Momentum has been extraordinarily difficult to maintain, especially when the direction is unclear. It is not motivation, but meaning in order to drive motivation, that I've been needing to generate.

I've made what I feel like have been a number of false starts. I haven't signed up for the military or invested my life savings in any radical schemes, but I have been so hungry for direction that any inspiration, no matter how mild, sends me running off to catch it before it dissipates. It then becomes rapidly apparent that this is not the "start your new life kit" I'd been hoping for and I turn around and head back for the crossroads.

 

2013-08-22 20.44.50

Sunrise Mandala, Amy Herring

I signed up for a summer series of six classes offered by the Jung Society of Seattle on Creating Your Own Red Book (I have discussed the astrology of Carl Jung and his Red Book in previous posts). Carl Jung underwent a massive internal transformation which he documented in his black books and later compiled into the Red Book. During this series, we were introduced to methods and theories of Carl Jung that we could utilize to create our own 'red book', such as active imagination, mandala creation, dream analysis, and synchronicity. This series was profoundly helpful in giving me a 'container' in which to conduct this self-making. The drawings in this blog have all come from my own red book (although mine's blue).

 

 

The-Universe-Dusty-Path

 

A brief but rapid series of synchronicities prompted me to finally decide that the only thing missing was to apply a little perseverance to the path that I clearly wanted to walk down but kept second-guessing. I am on the Universe's mailing list (you can be too) and one day it said to me:


Usually, the best way to find the yellow brick road of your life, Amy, is
to start out on the dusty, dirt one.

And then let yourself become so
preoccupied in making the best of it, having fun, and challenging yourself that
you actually stop paying attention to the path.

Until, one day, not so
long from now, with a new best friend, wearing cool clothes, feeling awesome, a
teeny tiny bit taller, fresh from a WOW vacation, looking for the path you just
left, you'll notice that it's 24 carats… baby.

And you'll wonder for a
long, long time, sipping on some exotic fruit drink, when the transformation
actually took place…

Tripping, The Universe

 

Although I think it is always true, my awareness is constantly drawn up in the fact that I am perpetually unfinished. However, I think the fog is starting to clear. The outline is drawn, and now I am stepping into it, embodying it.

 

 

 

Related articles

A Page From an Astrologer's Diary: Progressed Moon Enters the First House
Carl Jung on Archetypes
Introverts, Extroverts, and Astrology
Happy Birthday Carl Jung! An Astrological Vignette

Jupiter + Venus + Neptune = Unbearable, Crushing Longing

Rainbow eyeI long for things. Financial freedom. A house in Tuscany. Chocolate. Ok, maybe that last one is just a simple want if I could go get my ass to the cupboard. Wanting is a pleasant enough state if it's immediately coupled with the anticipation and the likelihood of getting what you want. An emptiness in the shape of what you want appears and if you can plug up that hole, you're all set. Nevermind, of course, how frustrating it can be if you can't get what you want or even worse, can't identify what you want.

But longing is a nearly unbearable state. Inherently coupled with longing, it seems, is that the object of desire is forever out of reach or truly impossible to attain. Longing is such a romantic, aching word. Impossible love. It crosses the threshold from the a common, ordinary state of being to an almost otherworldly state and drags our desperate souls with it.

I've noticed that my longings are almost always for something grandiose. Not just out of reach, but literally or figuratively big (except my obsession with owning a tiny home someday. That's pretty tiny, necessarily). I want to live in Paris for a year or two or three, growing intimately familiar with what it's really like to live there, not just visit as a stranger. I want to explore ancient ruins. I want to 'be great'. Not just famous, but great. The biggest things I long for aren't usually stuff. They are
experiences.

"But you can achieve those things if you really commit and really want it," I hear you say. Yeah. I can wrestle my inner-wandering-impatient-Gemini-south-node-child into applying itself, and I have here and there. But, wait; I'm not done yet.

It happens a similar way every time. I'll see something beautiful. An internet image of a cabin tucked away in the woods or the sunlight on the blossoming blackberry bushes in my backyard. And (here's my fatal mistake) I'll let it in. And if I don't distract myself immediately, it plants itself in my consciousness and grows. Now I'd like to say I do this next part to set about making a dream a reality like some Oprah-show-success-story but really to it's to reroute or counter the growing pain of longing before it can turn me into a puddle on the floor. I set my earth-sign brain to the task. "How can I make that happen?" Well, perhaps if I sell everything I own, leave my husband because he doesn't want that thing I want, and so on, I can probably have this experience. It's a life-changer, but it is doable. And I don't want to pay that price. So I go back to whatever boring thing I was in the middle of, satisfied that it is entirely within my control to have it but I'm choosing something else. I'm in control.

Fantasy planetYes, I can have things and experiences. But it really comes down to the
fact that I can't be everything, have every experience, live every life, all at once in the same body in the same moment.
I can open any door but I can't open all of them, and if I try, I won't actually
go anywhere since my body can't be everywhere. Occasionally I open one door, but most of the time, I let
the longing crush me and I don't open any doors under the weight of it
all. 
It's not the yearning for the end product of a difficult task. It's the yearning for endlessness, limitlessness, wholeness – and not new-age philosophy wholeness, I mean totality of being. An all-being. An everything. Something actually impossible while in an earthly state.

It occurred to me this morning that I have a t-square between Venus, Neptune and Jupiter.

I took some mental inventory of my astrological ingredient cards in my particular recipe:

  1. Venus in Virgo: attraction and one's relationship to the object of one's desire. In my case, desire being something of beauty that embodies earthy simplicity done to perfection.
  2. Jupiter in Pisces: expanding beyond what's known and safe via methods of spirit.
  3. Neptune in Sagittarius: the longing for otherworldly experiences in faraway lands or ideas.
  4. Mix together in inappropriate amounts until you have an unpalatable stew.

I think sometimes the pain of not having can be motivation to bring it about. Sometimes you need inconvenience and unhappiness to challenge yourself to commit to what you want when it's almost too hard. You need that push to overcome the resistance. I am used to that kind of challenge. Endure and you'll have a reward in the end (hmm… sound familiar? But I won't go there now). But I wonder if this impossible longing is the purpose and to bear it the only goal. I long to have a bigger spirit but the pain of containing
it in this small, mortal body overwhelms me. I feel like that might be the point. I think I'm on to something…

I long for things. You probably do too. Tell me about it.

Introverts, Extroverts, and Astrology

Most of us ask ourselves at some point, "What makes me … me?" It's the number one question that draws people to astrology  and other typologies and has made it popular enough that most people know roughly what you mean when you ask them what their sign is, and they can usually tell you. Along with their sign, they may also be able to tell you whether they are right or left brained, their enneagram type, their Myers-Briggs designation, their life path digit, or any number of other classifications.

One designation that has become so ingrained in our language that we hardly think of twice about it is introversion versus extraversion. In popular use, it tends to be used to describe people who are more quiet or shy (introvert) as opposed to the people who are outgoing and sociable (extraverts*).

Carl-jungIn actuality, the definitions of these designations are still debated. Psychologist Carl Jung posited that people's psychic energy (as differentiated from physical energy) flowed in one of two directions, primarily: externally ('extra') and internally ('intro). Those who were predominantly introverted had their energy flow inward with a focus on the inner world, feelings, dreams, and thoughts. They don't tend to seek out others' company or opinions as often and tend not to collect many friends and acquaintances, but only one or two close friends with whom they establish trust. In contrast, an extravert's psychic energy flows outward. Extraverts turn their attention more often to the happenings in the outside world, and are more likely to become involved in things outside of their own mind. They are also more comfortable in situations of a highly social nature or situations with alot of activity than introverts.

Hans eysenck wikiPsychologist Hans Eysenck studied the concept of extraversion and introversion from a more biological approach. He theorized that extraverts and introverts differed in their baseline levels of cerebral cortex arousal, proposing that extraverts tend to have a lower baseline measurement than introverts. Therefore, extraverts seek out the stimulus that introverts might avoid,  because they 'need' more cortex arousal, whereas an introvert's baseline level is higher and can too easily become tipped into overdrive with too much external stimulus.

 

IntrovertWhile this specific theory could not be proven in the research, a number of experiments have shown that there is a difference in the ways certain parts of an introvert's brain responds versus the extrovert's brain. Various findings suggest that introverts seem to be more sensitive to stimulation than extraverts, being more quickly and strongly aroused in social or noisy situations. Some findings even suggest that introverts are more likely to have a higher level of response to caffeine and nicotine than extraverts. Brain scans have also shown differences between the two Because of findings like these, many researchers tend to describe extraverts and introverts in terms of their difference in sensitivity to stimulation, rather than simply how 'outgoing' or 'sociable' someone is.


Of course, being an extrovert or an introvert isn't a hard-defined yes or no 'check the correct box' scenario, but is more appropriately measured on a continuum, with some people landing close to the middle and others closer to the edges.


What does this have to do with astrology?

Although I'd adore the categorical simplicity of declaring all the 'yin' signs introverts and the 'yang' signs extroverts, observation shows it's not that simple. Like all things in astrology, the complexities of your specific chart are much richer and more significant than astrological generalities. It's the unique combination and repeated themes in a natal chart that would reveal things like introversion or extraversion. Still, here are some ideas to play with:

  • How concentrated are the planetary placements in your chart in the water houses: 4, 8, and 12? The activities these houses govern (from a psychospiritual, not necessarily traditional, viewpoint) tend to be more about inner life, such as one's private home environment, the inner terrain of the psyche, and the spiritual life. While one or two outer planets hanging out in one or more of these houses may not an introvert make, a stellium of personal planets in the 8th house certainly may!
  • Do you have a lot of planets placed in the 9th, 10th, or 11th houses? The southern (top) hemisphere of the chart is typically related to activities that take us away from a the more narrow life focus of self, family, or our own creative pursuits and in touch with bigger happenings such as participation in community, education, and travel. Big happenings in a big world.
  • Are your planetary placements in the signs weighted significantly more in water than in fire or vice versa? The water signs orient themselves to the world and their experience through feelings, whereas the fire signs orient on what inspires and provokes them to action.
  • What about the earth and air signs? Air can certainly have a social component which can lead to the desire to share ideas and stories with another, but that outlet can certainly be tapped through media rather than conversation. The earth signs tend to have a practical orientation to the world around them and like to accomplish things but a Virgo can analyze her own mind just as well as a company's financial report.

I hear you saying "but, but, but" and I agree; there are rebuttals to each argument and I'm making them all in my head as I go (is my Mercury in Libra showing)? Still, I think the chart as a whole, with many of the above possibilities combined and even more I haven't mentioned, can reveal an introverted or extraverted nature. Do you?

You, people: observe, test and report back.

 

*Extravert, extrovert. You say tomato, I say it's the same thing so don't bug me about it just to sound smart. If you really do want to know, though, Google it.

**Most tests I've come across seem to be biased toward introversion as an answer. Maybe because all those extroverts are out partying and not writing internet quizzes?


Related articlesAre you extroverted or introverted? Don't take your word for it. Take a quiz or two.** You're not busy.Wiki's take on it
Dissemination of a recent published study on brain processes
The brain scan idea

Introverts are Not Failed Extroverts
Misunderstood Introverts

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.

The Reign of Scorpio


We've entered the season of Virgo, between the first and second harvest, and even though it's still technically summer, that feeling of reigning the abundance of summer in and channeling it into preparation work for fall has begun.

Mars and the North Node have just entered Scorpio, adding a note of seriousness and intensity to the already efficient pace of Virgo. It's change from the lightness of the Sun in Leo and Mars in Libra and the stakes of whatever we're planning or involved in may feel suddenly higher. It needs to be done, and it needs to be done now and if it's not done now there will be Consequences! The fervency and obsession of Scorpio can whip Virgo into an anxiety-ridden frenzy over the list of Things Undone (guilty!)

“Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” —Walter Anderson

Neptune and tritonThis
level of intensity might be temporary, as Mars leaves Scorpio October
6th for more light-hearted Sagittarius, but Saturn will take up the post
in Scorpio where it will remain until late December 2014, and the north
node will be there almost as long (Feb 2014). Upon these planet's entry
into Scorpio, they make a supportive trine to Neptune in Pisces,
softening the hard edges. Inspiration can be found in the dark, in fact,
sometimes it can be the best reason
to go there.

It really is a time for intense focus and purpose, and Virgo and Scorpio work well together. But this isn't just a time for busy work. While Virgo might normally be satisfied to merrily check things off her to-do list, Scorpio wants to dig at why something's on the list in the first place. Virgo likes a job well done, but Scorpio wants thoroughness. This is a time for true repair, not duct tape. For courage to really change something for the better, not just make the most of what we have.

“In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is
more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.” —
Warren Buffett

Normally that's good advice, making the most of what you have, but if you're going the wrong way, waiting until circumstances are better or the change is easier may not be the prudent and sensible choice it's masquerading as. It might be good old-fashioned fear. Fear of making a mess, fear of making the wrong choice, fear of losing what you have now. Scorpio is the sign of transformation, but it doesn't happen easily. You have to make a major mess first, as the momentum of life crashes to a halt.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” —Deepak Chopra

Pawn shadow queenIf it feels like high stakes, it is. It's your life. Scorpio is life and death. It strips away what we try and cover ourselves up with: the illusion that life is safe, that you need another television set, that the stable, wrong job is better than no job at all, and many other sensible but potentially deadening ideas. No, Scorpio isn't practical, and it doesn't promise everything will be alright or that you won't have any regrets. It just knows that fear isn't as good of a reason to avoid doing what you know you must as it seems to be.

“Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the
trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.
There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
–Steve Jobs

Ok, enough with the freaking you out. Scorpio is do or die, and Saturn says the hard work is simply to look deeply and sit with something, until discomfort gives way. The north node encourages the same thing, but Saturn and north node work are things that take practice, and happen sometimes over an entire lifetime. Just keep it in mind. Boldly choose your true north as often as you can bear it. Rest and comfort yourself when you need to.

Mars Retrograde: Keep it Simple

We are all motivated by different desires. No matter what they may be, Mars plays a  large role in how, when, and why we pursue those desires, whether it's fast and furious or slow and steady, whether we are pursuing happiness, security, or success.

Retrograde marsMars stationed retrograde at 23 degrees and 5 minute of Virgo on January 23rd.

A good way to begin to understand the meaning of any planet going retrograde is to run the gamut of re words. For instance, when Mercury retrogrades we're asked to reconsider. When Venus retrogrades, we are often given the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with someone. During this Mars retrograde period, we're asked to regroup and while it's in Virgo, reorganize.

Virgo is a sign of discrimination and elimination. It shaves away that which is not needed to get to the essential and pares down that which has become bloated and overdone. As Mars retrogrades through this sign until April 14th, sift through your life with an eye on what's useful, necessary, and functional and discard what unnecessarily complicates. Keep it simple.

Angry-mars-glyphVirgo may like efficiency, but keeping it simple doesn't always work, especially if Virgo loses sight on what's essential. It is a sign that likes simplicity, but also control. Not only is Mars retrograde, which tends to channel energy inward (see redirect) but it's also in Virgo, which has a hard time letting the energy flow outward without trying to control the flow so much that it risks clenching too hard, stopping the energy flow altogether (see restrict). Over the next couple of months, watch for warning signs of impending implosion due to control issues, excessive anxiety/worry, or stuck energy building up the tension level, like water pressure behind a dam.

Because Mars represents our drive, will, and to a certain extent our power, by extension it also represents our energy, especially physical energy, so keep a watch over your health during this period as well. When we're emotionally clogged, it's easier to get physically backed up as well (Virgo rules the digestive system–guard against anxiety and tummy upset). While it also depends on the disposition of Mars and other energies in your own chart, steady exercise and mindful eating is favored over pushing yourself beyond your limits or an excess of anything during this retrograde period. Plan and direct your exercise and nutrition, but don't deprive: deprivation carries the energy of restriction and self-punishment, a shadow of Virgo. Take your vitamins and wash your hands and all that, too, of course.

Like organizing your closet, organizing your life in a literal and metaphorical way can help you use your resources wisely and be more efficient over this retrograde period. Part of a wise strategy may also be being honest with yourself about what is and isn't in your control, and letting go of the things you aren't really in charge of anyway.

Just like you can't stop communicating for three weeks during Mercury retrograde periods, likewise you can't stop moving forward on anything at all for the nearly three months that Mars is retrograde. However, slow and steady, with probably some periodic readjusting, may be the best pace for now.

A Page From an Astrologer’s Diary: Progressed Moon Enters the First House

Back to back women An astrologer is always experiencing life on a couple of dimensions (pun intended!) On one hand, they're engaged in whatever is going on in their life at the moment like everyone else, and at the same time, they're wondering what this current event has to do with Mars trining their Midheaven or Pluto squaring their Ascendant. The good and humble astrologer is always taking notes from their life and the lives around them to see astrology in real life action, outside of the key words and fixed descriptions of what a certain astrological event is supposed to produce. Sometimes it takes a pretty horrific event to grab an astrologer's attention away from the analyzing dimension, but still; somewhere in our mind, we are thinking "wow, this is horrible and I'll probably be scarred for life, but what fascinating material for my astrology blog!"

Which is exactly what I have been thinking as I've been experiencing the rare event of my secondary progressed moon entering my first house.

I've been feeling it for about a month, and it's about a week or two away now from the actual crossing over. It's not uncommon to feel these shifts even two months before they happen. In my book, Astrology of the Moon, I compare a progressed moon shift to passing through a tunnel: 

BookcoversmallestImagine going through  a tunnel. You see it approaching ahead of you, even before you enter it. The change in the light and in the air becomes apparent soon after you enter the tunnel and may take a bit of an adjustment if it’s dark. As you continue to move through the tunnel, your eyes adjust and you get used to the new rhythm, the new environment. As you reach the end of the tunnel, you see it coming. The light is changing again, ahead of you. There is a natural anticipation of the shifts that happen as we see them coming. When it comes to the progressed moon, we may see a period of our life approaching. We often feel a change in the air. 

Developments in your chart, especially when it comes to the progressed planets, do not tend to happen overnight. While there are times when events in our lives are of such a magnitude that they can alter us forever in a moment, our general evolution is a slow progression. Awareness of new truths and changing attitudes tends to build in us over time, even if the realization of what’s been brewing in our subconscious happens suddenly. There will come a point, as each of these progression periods begin, where you start to notice the shift, notice that you’re feeling differently lately. For many people, this starts even a month or two before the actual progression period begins. Because we are always gradually developing, the shift from one progression to another is a slow build of the changing needs of the heart. But it may also take a month or so of sitting with the new energy to really notice that something has changed for you.

Here is a list (ah, my Virgo heart sings at the word), in no particular order, of the things I've noticed happening for me as I personally experience this shift.

  • I seem to be taking almost everything personally, which is not characteristic for me. While I have become more empathetic and sensitive over the years, I seem to regard every traffic slight and every external schedule delay or change personally. Heaven help you if it's my turn to merge and you speed ahead of me. I'll either curse you or cry about it! I've invited you over 3 times to my house for dinner and you can't get it on your schedule? How mean!
  • I seem to be focusing on drawing out my 'unlived lives', undeveloped parts of me that, due to focus on other things and other areas, haven't had much of an opportunity to surface, such as a sudden desire to purchase cookbooks and cook every night, or begin weight training at my local gym. I am curious to see if these desires continue and how linked they may be with the classic connection between the first house and the body.
  • My progressed moon has been in the sign of Capricorn for the last 2 years, and will remain there for another 5 months, so coupling that with the first house entry seems to have increased the hunger for The Next Big Thing. I'm not interested in little projects that may want to draw my attention. I'm looking for the next project that will really matter to me, that will define my life, that will light me up and Start My Life Anew. I'm wanting to launch. The trouble is, while I long for direction, I've got these first house butterfly wings that are still drying as I've only recently emerged (emerging) from the 12th house chrysalis and don't know what these wings can do or where I want them to take me yet.
  • Here's a fun one in that it seems so clearly correlated with its astrology: Uranus is square my Ascendant and Descendant, so naturally as my progressed moon crosses the Ascendant, it's squaring Uranus as well, and opposing my Descendant (did you catch all that, newbies? Sorry if you just choked on the jargon). Lately I have been recognizing how intense my frustration when anyone (including myself) attempts to identify or label me, even with 'good' labels. I am none of the things you think I am, or that I think I am, and as soon as you want to understand me, I cannot be understood, nor truly seen, and am resentful that I must define myself so that you (or I) can understand what I am as we have our casual conversation. Who are you talking to? I don't know, either. I feel keenly attuned to the idea that I am always in progress and process, therefore a slice of me in any moment will not tell you who I am in the whole. I think anyone could say that, but my awareness of it is intense these days.

Coming home from another fabulous NORWAC last night, I had this image relentless playing out in my head as all these thoughts was rising: I have just been thrust through the front door and onto the porch, rather abruptly, though not with rude intent. The door slams against my back. Palms and back against the door, heels still on the edge of the threshhold, I stand motionless as I face the world in front me.

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: Lisa@astromythic.com. 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.

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