TMA This Week

Some thoughts on the place of astrology in our contemporary world

By Anne Whitaker | May 16, 2016

We live in a vast energy field of constant motion, most of which is invisible to us. The rippling patterns of order and chaos, which is the fundamental dance of creation, govern everything. I have come to see the art of astrology (helped by what I have grasped of what the quantum world has revealed to us) as one that enables us to map those patterns via the constant shifting energies of the planets in their orbits.

Astrologers take a step that, in our reductionist, materialist culture, pulls down all sorts of opprobrium and scorn upon our heads: We attribute meaning to those patterns. Beginning in ancient times until the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century (which caused a split between form, described by astronomy, and content, described by astrology), the maxim “as above, so below” governed people’s worldview. Prior to the Scientific Revolution, we lived in a cosmos charged with meaning, an “ensouled” cosmos, where form and content reflected and informed each other.
Astrology and prejudice
Some of us still live in that cosmos. Others do not. Where you have such a powerful clash of worldviews, polarisation and prejudice can arise. I think that Victor Olliver, editor of the UK’s respected Astrological Journal, was right regarding his eloquent and well argued response to my doubts and questions about popular astrology in the spring of 2015. At that time, he pointed out that the real enemy of astrology is prejudice. There is the prejudice from outside the astrological community (especially from much of the scientific community) from those who believe that our lives are the product of cosmic chance, and thereby devoid of meaning. And then there is the prejudice from those within the community — those who consider themselves to be “serious” practitioners — toward the populist, mass-market astrology that millions avidly consume across a vast range of media on a daily basis, looking for some glimmer of meaning in life.

What do we do about this? In reflecting on how I might “wrap up” Victor’s and my three-part debate, which generated a great deal of interest across the Web, the word “occult” came strongly to mind.

I pondered it for a few days. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the original meaning of the word is from the Latin “occulere,” i.e. “to hide, conceal.” It also (in a more physical sense) means “to cut off from view by interposing some other body,” as in, for example, the occultation of one planet or heavenly body by another.
Is astrology an “occult” practice?
The word “occult” in recent times has taken on a more sinister connotation, referring often to magical or supernatural practices of a dubious nature. As I reflected on it, I became more interested in the original meaning of the word, which has led me to a conclusion about the status of astrology, especially in our modern world: The true depth of what astrology can reveal about human affairs, both in the collective and the personal sense, will always be inaccessible to the large majority of people. Astrology is an occult subject. As such, its influence and its great value are likely to remain masked, hidden from view, operating powerfully but behind the scenes of everyday life.

For example, in ancient times its practice was held in high esteem by Babylonian and Egyptian rulers, whose astrologer-priests scanned the stars and advised the kings (and sometimes, even, the queens!)  on the fate of their nations. There were no personal horoscopes. The general public was in no way consulted or informed regarding decisions made that affected all their lives. Astrological knowledge, deemed sacred, was deliberately kept hidden from ordinary view.

Paradoxically, in our time, mass-market popular astrology could be seen as fulfilling the function of concealing the real power of astrology quite effectively. Most of the public remain unaware of the depth that exists behind the mask of the Sun Sign columns, although I do agree with Victor that there is a very big difference between the nuggets of truth that a quality Sun Sign column can reveal and the kind of trashy stuff that some popular newspapers, magazines, and internet sites churn out.
A warning ignored
Sun Sign columns are also rather effective in raising the ire and spleen of reductionists who thereby are permanently deflected from benefiting from astrology’s true depth, which at times could have been life-saving as evinced in the powerful example of astrologer Dennis Elwell’s prescient warning in the 1980s.

In 1987, Dennis Elwell, the late well-known U.K. astrologer, wrote to the main shipping companies to warn them that a pattern very similar to that under which the Titanic had sunk was coming in the heavens very soon. He strongly suggested that they review the seaworthiness and safety procedures of all their passenger ships. His warning was duly dismissed. Not long afterwards, the U.K.’s Herald of Free Enterprise ferryboat went down, resulting in the loss of 188 lives.

Popular astrology—a stepping-stone?
It is true, as Victor pointed out in his robust reply to my challenge, that mass-market astrology is the stepping-stone that enables people who are seekers after deeper meaning to step from relative triviality to much greater depth.

However, to understand the profound link that exists between your unique chip of energy and the larger, meaningful cosmos, you will need to seek out a good astrologer to offer you a sensitive and revealing portrait of your moment of birth via your horoscope. Those of us who are in-depth practitioners know that a quality astrology reading with the right astrologer at the right time can be truly life changing.

Only a small percentage of people who read Sun Sign columns take that step into deeper territory. Most do not. Either they are quite happy with the superficiality they find there, or they spin off into active enraged prejudice, and sometimes very public condemnation, of our great art…

As I said to Victor Olliver by way of conclusion to our most instructive debate, pondering on the word “occult” has led me to quite a peaceful place. I can now abandon any prejudice I may have toward my colleagues who are Sun Sign astrologers: they are offering a valuable service in providing a smoke screen. This helps greatly to maintain astrology in its true place as an occult activity, perhaps leavening the ignorance and crassness of our materialist, consumer age  — but from behind the scenes.
Concluding thoughts from academia

I have recently been reading an excellent book by astrologer, teacher, and writer Dr. Bernadette Brady, Chaos, Chaosmos and Astrology. In her book, Brady quotes fellow astrologer and academic Dr. Patrick Curry’s view that the practice of astrology is  “…an instrument of enchantment, a way in which humanity encounters mystery, awe, and wonder….,” and that in order to maintain such a position it is “…necessary for astrology to be marginalised by science…” (1)

I was very happy to encounter this viewpoint put forward by fellow astrologers whose scholarship and viewpoints I respect. Their views have eloquently endorsed my own.

TMA readers, what do you think of this viewpoint? I’d be most interested to hear.
(1) Bernadette Brady, Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology, Sophia Centre Press, 2014, p 71.
Bio: Anne Whitaker is a writer, astrologer, and astrology teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the Diploma from the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, U.K. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter @annewhitaker, at Astrology Questions and Answers and email:

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Mars shows the way…

By Mary Plumb | April 18, 2016

On Sunday, as I was thinking about this blog (knowing that the day’s Mars station at 8°54′ Sagittarius was my topic), I got a call from a friend. Why, she plaintively asked, am I having so much trouble with men?

There was the immediate pain of the recent breakup of long-term partnership, as well as certain sensitive matters with other men in her life, mostly business connections. Her natal Mars is in Sag and rules the 5th and 10th houses. We talked for a while about Mars’s station and the beginning of his backward movement. After a bit of an excursion into the significations of Mars, she seemed to feel better and then (it seemed to me) began to channel Pluto’s concurrent station (Pluto turns retrograde today, April 18). She said, I am having the experience that my will is not the only thing, there is something much larger going on.

It was a fine moment, especially perhaps for a quite accomplished Leo Sun who is very capable of making things happen.

In this same conversation, she told me about a friend who just had her driver’s license taken away. After going in to renew the license, she was shocked to fail the eye exam and have it taken away on the spot. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

I called another friend to check in with her, as I figured she might be having a rough few days. (She is another strongly fire type, with Aries on the Ascendant, and thus quite attuned to Mars.)

This person has been dealing with a long-term health challenge and said she was really struggling. Natal Saturn is at 8° Sag, so the Mars station is stirring up the material connected to the Saturn return. In this case, the anguish is deep as she wrestles with her situation: Why can’t I do what I want? A painful side of Mars (in this case with Saturn) was fully in her awareness. A nod here to remembering the moons of Mars — Phobos (panic/fear) and Deimos (terror/dread) — in case we need help in understanding the sometimes difficult psychological territory that Mars carries.

Most of us will be spared such events as the ” ‘fiery, catastrophic’ failure” of North Korea’s failed missile launch reported on Friday the 15th. The North Korea horoscope (set for noon) has Scorpio rising with the Mars station squaring the Midheaven at 9° Virgo. (1)

Those who rely upon ongoing productivity in worldly matters (or Aries or Scorpio Sun signs, or those signs angular) may find the haltingness of the current Mars difficult. (My friend said: I can’t get anything done!)

We know not to fight, not to push blindly with Mars turning around. Retreat is easier for some of us than others — those with natal Mars retrograde, or many 12th-house planets, or many planets below the horizon. There are lots of astrological markers that might suggest that a retreat into one’s interior life is a natural move.

With retrograde Mars, forward or direct action is thwarted, and yet we have this auspicious celestial invitation toward the inner life.

But, Mars has an edge; it cuts and is sharp, especially in fire. And this station is on the fixed star Antares, the rival to Mars, at 9° Sagittarius. (Transiting Saturn will conjoin Mars in August at 9°52′ Sag, which is too big a story for now, but it does add potency to themes and events experienced at this Mars station.)

Some will experience a particularly sharp moment, as the painful edge for each of us is more distinct now. Mars’s prolonged stay in 8° – 9° Sag is reinforcing any planet or angle being closely aspected by that degree, especially by conjunction, square, or opposition.

Depending on our particular temperament and disposition (and circumstances), the presence of Mars may be more or less painful. And that pain may be a physical injury, or any event that causes us to (temporarily) wince or recoil.

Some may have a piercing insight (Sag) about the nature of their own reality or current life situation in the days around the station that will be developed further and deeper, especially as Mars goes back into the emotional scars and gifts and mysteries of Scorpio on May 27. It’s as if we can bring the precision and striking heat of Mars back into our private lives.

In honor of Mars starting the periodic derailment from his ordinary course, I burned my hand yesterday pouring steaming hot water into a different-than-usual teapot. It’s not a significant burn, but it did hurt and caught my complete attention: Yes, Mars, you can be very hot.

Contemporary interpreters of certain yogic and meditative traditions speak of keeping one’s awareness right with any emotional pain or physical discomfort, as that is where growth and change occurs, right at the edge of intensity, before pain or avoidance overwhelms us. It’s a subtle business for sure, but what else are we going to do when life is showing us that backing up and looking within may be quite revealing.

Those of us with natal Mars retrograde may be coming into our own (once again) during the retrograde cycle. Hey, no time like the present!

I hope everyone has a fruitful, fulfilling, and joyous journey as we turn around and take another look at ourselves.


(1) North Korea Independence, Sept. 10, 1948; noon, Pyongyang, Korea. (39°N01′, 125°E45′). The Book of World Horoscopes, Nicholas Campion, The Wessex Astrologer, 2004.

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Ahhh!…welcome Pisces..

By Mary Plumb | February 22, 2016

As I woke on Sunday morning — halfway in a dream — my first thought was: What if I lost everything?

I had been researching the (always) fascinating astrology of someone in the news for this blog, but the mood of the early morning stayed with me and I decided to investigate that question from in-between sleep and awake. (1)

It seemed like it might be timely as well — today’s Full Moon is at 3°33′ Virgo; the Sun is with Neptune at 9° Pisces.

Full Moon

The Sun is moving towards Neptune; they meet precisely on February 28 and the Moon will perfect her opposition to Neptune tonight. Neptune’s sphere, presence, essence will color the days this week.

We are also approaching the total solar eclipse on March 8 (PST) at 18°55′ Pisces. The South Node and Chiron are also in Pisces, heightening our experiences of disappearance and loss, or susceptibility to non-ordinary states.

The Sun was in Pisces when I was born; as an astrologer, I have always been able to put a positive spin on Neptune, but I am not naïve about its troublesome side. Sometimes Neptune really does correspond with situations or life events that are difficult to bear. Some events in one’s life really do not work out too well.

What if I lost everything? This rather searing question is acute and personal for me: my natal Sun is at 8° Pisces; transiting Neptune has barely gotten past the Sun (which is pronounced, therefore, in this year’s solar return).

I have had some difficult life events recently, so pondering loss was not completely out of context. I first swept through the current situations in my life — challenging events, no doubt, like everyone else, but the depth of that question still haunted me: What if I lost everything?

I rather carefully walked through a familiar web of emotions (those places wherein it’s easy to get distracted or numb or indulgent — all manner of strategies to avoid just feeling) and did begin to remember the quiet and powerful waves of trust — I think it may be called faith too — that life is, indeed, holding us all in a most mysterious way. Loss is an inevitable part of life.

I also remembered the beauty of the early morning sky; for these past few months, I have stepped out my front door to see Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, and sometimes the Moon. Mercury has been there too, but I don’t have a view low enough in the east to see him. That ability, to see the dark sky in its magnificence, uplifts my spirit enormously. (I love the day sky too; we have had gorgeous clouds in Oregon this winter.)

We know there are countless ways to invite a positive experience of Neptune rather than (only) being lost in life’s sorrow.

We have access to intoxicants of all kinds; mind-altering substances and plants (alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, psilocybin, cannabis, etc.) are part of our culture and accompany many into the interior life. These fall under the dominion of Neptune in his Dionysian garb.

We have a natural inner pharmacopoeia that can be cultivated directly through any of thousands of meditation and yoga or breathing techniques taught through the ages. We can also easily be enveloped with music, or surrounded by dance, from every possible genre or historical period, with merely a click.

[In a shout out to Moon in Virgo: let’s not forget the research that connects serotonin and other hormones that regulate emotions and mood to the digestive track — 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced and stored in the gut.] (2)

I have another method in mind too: Next year, as the Sun in Pisces conjoins Neptune in the sky, I will try to end up on a warm beach as some wise travelers are showing the rest of us on our iPhones. (Hello to Kate Plumb at a yoga retreat in Tulum.)

Luck, grace, or support may all be part of our inevitable meeting with this natural state of vulnerability. Dropping through the doorways of loss and disappearance and feeling one’s way onward can bring glimpses from the lands known to the mystics — moments of bliss or surrender — and a renewed appreciation for the delicate ever-present beauty of life.

There have been many eloquent writers on the subject of vulnerability recently. (3) Although it is a long period of time (2011- 2025) with many complexities and variables, astrologers recognize that Neptune in Pisces may describe a time wherein experiences of openness, inseparability, impermanence, and transcendence become very ordinary after all.


(1) Studying the language of the stars — from many frames of reference — is one of the greatest gifts in my life (i.e., at the moment, I’m trying to learn Zodiacal Releasing from spirit and fortune, thanks to Chris Brennan and my sister, Kate), but, for now, I’m putting aside my intellectual and analytic habit to stay with this feeling of being exposed.

(2) New York Times

(3) Vulnerability by David Whyte

Brené Brown The Power of Vulnerability

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Venus in Capricorn and the Earth Sign Connection

By Kelly Surtees | January 25, 2016

Venus will move through Capricorn from January 23 – February 16. Venus has triplicity rulership over earth signs, (in day charts), which shows that Venus has an affinity for earth signs. (1)

This comfort placement of Venus in an earth sign for the next few weeks can help us all find a little more ease or security in the Venusian areas of our lives. Venus rules themes of love, beauty, comfort, and little luxuries, but Venus will also take charge of more specific themes based on your unique chart.

To discover these, note the houses ruled by Taurus and Libra in your birth chart. These houses, and whatever aspects of life they encompass, will also benefit from the stabilising influence of Venus in Capricorn. Venus is responsible for her two signs, even if she isn’t currently in her signs.

Venus in Capricorn provides form and structure to your personal Venus-ruled houses. It also helps when making plans pertaining to relationships and any desire to add sweetness, softness, or other little enhancements to life.

For instance, if you have Taurus or Libra on the Midheaven, or ruling the 10th house, you may experience this grounded Venus-in-Capricorn influence as a sense of renewed focus and motivation, or perhaps better time management at work. If Taurus or Libra is on the cusp of your 2nd house of money (cash flow and income), you may notice improvement in your salary, finances in general, or around any larger or luxury purchases you might make.

Of course, Venus will be in the sign of Capricorn these next few weeks, so your Capricorn house and associated correspondences also have the potential to improve.

Venus in Capricorn can add a sense of relief and ease to the post-Mercury-retrograde in Capricorn period. You might discover the support you need to re-negotiate something that was frustrating you earlier in January. A helpful person may arrive, or a change in circumstances may benefit you more than expected.

Venus in Capricorn is not frivolous; rather, she likes to make the most of what she has. Whether you have a lot or a little, you can make what you do have last, or stretch further than expected. This can be a time of being more thoughtful with how and when you enjoy life, perhaps with more focused appreciation on the special moments or indulgences in your life.

Venus will spend time in all three earth signs in 2016, visiting Taurus from April 29 – 24 and Virgo from August 5 – 29. Make a note of these dates to see how the triplicity strength of Venus in an earth sign may provide ease, support, and stability for you.
(1) (Editor’s notes: Each group of triplicites (i.e., fire, air, earth, water) has its own set of planetary rulers, which is different for a day or night chart. Triplicity is a factor in determining the essential dignity of a planet.
All Venus dates herein are for Pacific Time. Check your local time for specifics for your location; it may vary by a day.)
Bio: Kelly is a consulting astrologer, teacher, writer, and editor who works with clients and students around the world. With more than 12 years in private practice, Kelly is experienced, warm, and insightful. She loves exploring astrology’s history as well as escaping into the ocean. Kelly’s passion for astrology is infectious, and her specialty areas include Moon Phases, timing techniques like progressions, and incorporating traditional concepts. She can be found lecturing at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Kelly holds the Australian FAA Practitioner’s Diploma and is an expat Aussie who lives in Canada most of the year. Website: Kelly’s Astrology

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Saturn in Sag: Nothing to Hope About, Nothing to Fear

By Mary Plumb | September 21, 2015

Sagittarius, the last of the fire signs, which are all connected with will, vision, and the future, also carries the imprint of mutability, associated with wisdom and adaptability.

Saturn is thought of as the planet of incarnation. Saturn lets us know that we are in a physical body, subject to gravity, illness, and aging. Lead, the heaviest and most enduring metal, belongs to Saturn; it stores in the bones and its presence is more marked in the bones of the elderly than in the young. (1)

It is also the planet at the edge of the visible (to the naked eye) universe and doorway to higher realms, and the pathway to discipleship, freedom, and self-mastery.

The ancients thought that the soul comes in through Saturn’s sphere from the stars beyond, and when we leave this life it is also through the sphere of Saturn. In broad terms, to which Sagittarius does not object, Saturn represents both the coming into form and the departing into the great beyond.

Saturn’s very recent ingress into Sagittarius brings to mind an image I encountered very early —  the young Sagittarius archetype restlessly shooting arrows all over the place, heedless about where they land (hence, the sign’s well-known tendency toward bluntness). Then came the description of a wiser, more mature expression of the Sagittarius archetype. Now, the archer takes the time to pay attention to his stance and posture — the tilt of the chin is noted with care, the breath and shoulders are relaxed, the feet are securely connected to the earth — so that far star in the archer’s sight is secured and the arrow hastens directly and swiftly to it.

Saturn represents the limit, the terminus, and Sagittarius is ever expanding its reach. It sounds contradictory and there is surely some awkwardness in their meeting — Do I stop? Do I keep going? — but Saturn keeps us on the path to the higher ground of what is possible for each of us. Saturn, who can be relied upon as our loyal guide, sometimes says “no” when a gesture or pathway might take us too far away from our purpose. He is long known as the “Guardian of the Threshold” and the “ring-pass-not.” (2)

A Tibetan lama said in a recent teaching: “There is nothing to hope about and there is nothing to fear.” This speaks to me of the moment, reported by some mystics and poets, when awareness is simply present, without longing, without anxiety. (3)

I once saw Saturn at an outdoor stargazing party at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. The site is at 14,000 feet (4,200 meters) and it was in the winter — very, very cold and clear. I was taken over, deeply moved by how beautiful Saturn is, how perfectly beautiful.

In that moment I thought that I would never be afraid again. It was like a vow, I was so certain. It was a moment of hubris and naiveté, but in genuine appreciation of Saturn’s exquisite being.

Of course, since then, I have been afraid, but the image in my mind of his stark, lonely beauty is never far away. Saturn is not really some faraway demon whose slow motion at the edge of our line of sight we carefully calculate and be on guard for, but it is a beautiful, perfect yellow-white celestial orb with magnificent rings right in front of me, always.

Saturn is tasked with making us face reality, being in the here and now and bringing us the experiences that we must meet in this life. There are many versions of what this might mean for us, and how change can arise from a deep acceptance of what is before us. There is something in the combination of Saturn in Sag suggesting that as our perspective changes, our view of what is Real changes, too.

Some of the keywords for Saturn — patience, diligence, discipline — are three of the Six Perfections taught in Mahayana Buddhism. There are countless volumes of spoken and written teachings on the meaning of each of these words. They are not mere slogans or jargon (a Sag shadow) but qualities encountered and cultivated as foundational to other teachings on the path to realizing one’s true nature.

Many wisdom traditions have practices and teachings aimed to help address the disparities between our experience of reality and the actual state of things. Saturn in Sagittarius suggests that contemplation and a sober and steady focus on our spiritual practices or religious beliefs may bear fruit in a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.

Faith and doubt accompany the Sagittarius path. Will it last? Am I going in the right direction? Paradoxically, certainty is a spoken requirement in some meditative paths; one must have certainty of the path, or of the outcome. Moving with certainty, during a time when mutable planets are offered, will be an agile path on which experience is gathered, movement in the mind and the body is required, conditions are always changing, and awareness of impermanence prevails. We can no longer be attached to being right, or clinging to self-importance or a fixed sense of ourselves.

Saturn brings purposeful delays, and the insight or inspiration we are seeking may arise when an apparent obstacle is upon us.

With Jupiter in Virgo (joined on September 24th by Mars), and Neptune in Pisces, the mutable mode is pronounced. Mutability brings changing conditions and the gathering of experiences. We seek variety and versatility, we are flexible; the arrow has flown and we may be steadily poised to release another while the first one is still in the air.  Mutable means movement — we are collecting experiences and naturally coalescing threads of meaning from a multitude of images, thoughts, conversations.

Many other people are involved, and we talk to them to find out what they are up to, then bring their input back to forge a diverse, multidimensional fabric of purpose. Traveling in all realms brings clarity to our projects; we move to take in new impressions, to see the grand sights.

The day after the ingress, I stepped into the yoga room and the teacher I expected to see was not there, but rather a teacher whose style is power yoga and strength-building. I was overcome with restlessness — enough strengthening for now; I had to be out side. (Good riddance Scorpio, hello Sagittarius.) I left and went for a ramble in the fresh air and hilly trails around the lake — a visceral response within me to the change in the air.

The Sufis speak about not looking for a fixed answer, but to stay in the question, an instruction that suits the mutable wisdom of these times.

Onward and upward! (Quoted in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: “Onward and Upward! To Narnia and the North!” Lewis, born November 29, 1898, has Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Sun, and Uranus in Sag.)


(1) Saturn and Lead, by Nick Kollerstrom

(2) Guardian of the Thresehold

“Ring-pass-not: The limit in spiritual, intellectual, or psychological power or consciousness, beyond which an individual is unable to pass until he evokes from within the strength and the vision to carry him forwards and over the circumscribing limits set by that individual’s own karma.”

(3) Thanks to Melanie Reinhart for her inclusion of T.S. Eliot’s words from “Four Quartets” in her recent (wonderful) talk on Saturn in Sagittarius:

“And I said to my soul ‘Be still…
and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope of the wrong thing….”

Nick Kollerstrom opens his article (mentioned above) Saturn and Lead with another quote from T.S. Eliot (in The Waste Land): “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

Bio: Mary Plumb is TMA’s Book and Web Editor. She offers private sessions and tutoring and can be reached at

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August Aspects + Astro Action

By Kelly Surtees | July 27, 2015

August brings the winds of change, as Jupiter, one of the traditional timing planets, changes signs from Leo to Virgo on August 11, 2015. This will lend a new quality to Jupiter’s exuberance, bringing practical realities, details, and topics associated with wellbeing into the forefront.

Jupiter’s change of sign ends a year-long theme, and invites us to shift our focus to new topics and areas of life that can begin to open up now. Chart tip: Check the house in your chart with Virgo on the cusp for your most personal themes. Jupiter will be in Virgo between August 11, 2015 and September 9, 2016.

From an elemental perspective, August brings a shift from fire to earth, as Mercury, Jupiter, and the Sun all move from Leo into Virgo. This can be about slowing down, or placing a focus on material matters (like money) and topics concerning the health of the body.

Since I’m in the northern hemisphere now, I’ll greet August under the summer Sun and channel some of this energy into my garden, for a truly grounding and earthy Jupiter-in-Virgo experience. (Not to mention the tidy vibes of Virgo I’ll be drawing on to help tame the weeds!) For more on one of the other earth planets this month, check out the Mercury-in-Virgo section below. 

Mars into Leo: Drying Out

In addition, Mars will finish his journey through Cancer, moving into Leo on August 8, 2015. Since Mars is in detriment in Cancer, its time here has produced a somewhat muted version of Mars.
There is resonance between Mars and the fiery sign of Leo because they share a hot and dry nature. When Mars moves into Leo, this will create a comfortable climate for him, as it places this fire planet  in a fire sign. 

If you have the kind of chart that needs to be energised, Mars in Leo can help. (Check your chart for the Leo-ruled house to discover the specific area of your life that’s about to get fired up.) However, if you have a chart that’s hot already, you may find that things reach a boiling point.

This sign change is quite literally a drying out of Mars, which can bring sharpness, focus, and progress because Mars is no longer bogged down in Cancer’s watery, emotional realm. Cancer has much to offer, but it’s a place where the pure driving force of Mars can become diluted or distracted. As Mars gets back on more comfortable ground, you may notice the pace of progress picking up or start to move forward in a more direct, linear manner.

Stations, Retrogrades, and Turning Around

Saturn will station direct at 28° Scorpio on August 1, ending his last retrograde period in Scorpio. By mid-September, we’ll be done with the Saturn-in-Scorpio cycle for another 30 years, although Saturn will sit at 28° Scorpio for the month of August.

It’s interesting to note that Saturn is moving very slowly this August, at the same time Venus is moving backwards. Two planets in this specific stage of their cycles can bring a sense of treading water, or slower than usual progress (especially for any natal planets aspected by transiting Venus or Saturn), and will certainly affect the natal houses associated with Virgo and Leo (Venus) and Scorpio (Saturn) in your chart.
Jupiter + Saturn: Dreams vs. Reality

Arguably, the featured aspect this month is a square from Jupiter at 28° Leo to Saturn at 28° Scorpio, which occurs between August 2 – 6. It will be triggered and reinforced by Venus, also in Leo (retrograde) from August 3 – 6, and Mercury in Leo on August 6 – 7.

Jupiter square Saturn is an interesting aspect that pits two planetary heavyweights against each other. Applying one of the simplest aspect doctrines here — the idea that the outer planet “does it” to the inner planet  (that is, that the planet furthest from the Sun has an overriding or dominating influence) — suggests that some of Jupiter’s exuberance and natural optimism will be tempered and brought back down to reality by Saturn.

This aspect may feel like dreams being confronted with logistics and practicalities, like when we present a pitch and someone highlights the possible problems or potential pitfalls right away. Saturn is doing this in a big way right now, so expect constructive feedback to show up in a variety of areas. Take time to consider external input, as it might help to make a current plan or project better, even if it delays the timeline you had in mind. Under this aspect, a delay can be a good thing.

With Saturn overriding Jupiter, it may be a good time to scale back or modify your original intentions. Think small, high quality, and lasting rather than big, bold, and all encompassing. Saturn’s mission is to help each of us commit to projects, people, and possibilities that have lasting potential. If you can’t sustain your intentions or goals for the long term, consider adjusting your ambitions.

Mercury in Virgo: Making up for Lost Time

Mercury is on the move and will touch three signs this August — wrapping up his visit to Leo, and whipping through Virgo before finally landing in Libra at the end of the month.

Of these three signs, it’s Mercury in Virgo (August 7 – 27) that brings out the best of Mercury’s eagle-eyed talents. While in Virgo, Mercury will make three aspects to note:
–       Mercury opposite Neptune: August 12 – 13, 8° Virgo/Pisces
–       Mercury trine Pluto: August 15 – 16, 13° Capricorn/Virgo
–       Mercury sextile Saturn: August 26 – 27, 28° Virgo/Scorpio

Mercury opposite Neptune can be problematic because Neptune creates an unclear, foggy vibe that tends to block facts. Details may get lost or your message may drift off into the ethers rather than arrive as intended. On the other hand, Mercury aspecting Neptune is great for creative and spiritual pursuits, as well as getting in touch with your intuition. Take time to notice your energetic or felt response to events, rather than obsessing about efficiency regarding your work and other goals.

Mercury trine Pluto arouses a detailed, intense, and probing energy that will help you dig for hidden details. You might hit upon a core truth or idea. True motivations may be revealed, and it’s definitely a window of time in which speaking from the heart will be important, especially in your most intimate partnerships.

I consider the final aspect that Mercury in Virgo makes to Saturn in Scorpio to be the best Mercury aspect this August. Mercury is all about the deal, and it loves to network and put plans into writing. Mercury in Virgo does this with a greater attention to detail than any other Mercury placement. In the sign of Virgo, Mercury is both in rulership and exalted, and this is considered to be the most functional Mercury.

When you combine Mercury-in-Virgo’s analytical excellence with Saturn’s diligent and thorough approach in leave-no-stone-unturned Scorpio, contracts and commitments can be made and sealed in stone. This is the master analyst at his best, with a focus on logic, reality, and timeliness, and this means that any decisions made or finalised under this aspect have staying power. August is a busy month in which many previously stalled plans will be re-energised. With key planets like Mars and Jupiter on the move, doors will open, especially in direct response to your efforts and actions.

While there is much to be said about the astrological themes this month, I’ve focussed on a couple of key shifts and aspects to arm you with insights about the power days for the month ahead. May you seize every opportunity.

Kelly is a consulting astrologer, teacher, writer, and editor who works with clients and students around the world. With more than 12 years in private practice, Kelly is experienced, warm, and insightful. She loves exploring astrology’s history as well as escaping into the ocean. Kelly’s passion for astrology is infectious, and her specialty areas include Moon Phases, timing techniques like progressions, and incorporating traditional concepts. She can be found lecturing at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Kelly holds the Australian FAA Practitioner’s Diploma and is an expat Aussie who lives in Canada most of the year. Website: Kelly’s Astrology

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Over-the-top, stories from the out-of-bounds

By Mary Plumb | July 13, 2015

In the early 90s, Kt Boehrer became an influential player in a renewal of interest in declination when she published her book, Declinations, The Other Dimension, which presented 20 years of research on the subject. Leigh Westin’s very precisely elucidated book, Beyond the Solstice by Declination, followed in 1999. Currently, declination and out-of-bounds planets are quite commonly used by practicing astrologers.

To those who may be unfamiliar with the terms, I’ll recap a bit. Essentially, as the Sun travels around the zodiac on the ecliptic, it reaches a maximum northern declination (23N27) at the tropic of Cancer on the summer solstice. The Sun reaches maximum southern declination (23S27) at the tropic of Capricorn on the winter solstice. Declination is measured as the earth’s tilt along its axis as it orbits the Sun. The planets normally travel within that band of degrees. A planet is considered out-of-bounds when it travels beyond the ecliptic, or beyond 23°27′ to the north or south.

A basic notion of interpretation is that the out-of-bounds planet is no longer under the guidance, or rule, of the Sun, i.e., the organizing principle. The OOB planet deviates from normal expression; it becomes exaggerated, somehow unusual, or unconventional. This can manifest in many ways, sometimes as a remarkable talent or gift, sometimes as inappropriate or extreme behavior.

We’re just winding down from a period of Mars being out-of-bounds. On June 9 Mars reached 23N35, just moving out of the range of the Sun’s declination. The last week in June, Mars reached its maximum OOB declination in this cycle (24N08), and on July 16, Mars moves back into the natural border of the guidance of the Sun at 23N27.

Mars can be obvious in world events, especially when it is OOB. Here are a few recent events that echoed an exaggerated Mars: One of the world’s top drug lords, Joaquin Guzman “El Chapo,” escaped from maximum-security prison; the murders in a South Carolina church (and the news that a background check error at the FBI allowed the shooter to purchase a gun); media reports that psychologists secretly aided a CIA torture program; same-sex marriage was guaranteed by the Constitution; two inmates escaped from a New York prison (overtaking the news cycle for weeks).
(On September 11, 2001, Mars, at 1°26′ Capricorn in longitude, was at an extreme out-of-bounds declination (26S48). Mars will not reach this extreme south declination again until 2033.)

Mars is in the news (as usual), but I’ve been thinking a lot about the natal Moon OOB.

In a list of familiar descriptors for an OOB planet (i.e., unrestrained, extreme, independent, wild, awkward, privileged, magnified), I found a keyword I had not thought of before that seemed very true: vulnerable. (1) If a planet is out there on its own, beyond the conventional boundaries, the experience of vulnerability can be present as well.

The Moon has its own rhythm — for about nine or ten years it will stay inside the Sun’s boundary, never going out-of-bounds. Then, in nine- or ten-year cycles, it will go OOB several times a month. (The Moon will stay in bounds from 2011-2020.)

There is a further interesting distinction within the OOB cycle, that is, peak years when the Moon will travel to its extreme OOB declination. This is when the nodes are near 0° Aries and Libra. So, people born with the nodes in Aries and Libra may possibly have the natal Moon at this extreme OOB. This can be a very helpful thing to note for your friends and clients, not to mention being enormously useful to recognize if you are in that category yourself. The years when the extreme OOB Moon (almost 29° N or S declination) is possible are around 1913, 1931-32, 1950, 1968-9, 1987-88, and 2005-6. The OOB Moon does not happen every month during those years; you’ll need to check the ephemeris.

Those with an OOB natal Moon can be very intuitive; have transparent emotional boundaries; be connected to the subconscious; live a highly emotional life; and have an empathetic nature. Other lunar themes with a natal OOB Moon are exceptional circumstances in giving birth; unusual relationships with the mother or a marked impact from early childhood; food and security issues; and an acutely emotional response to life. All of these themes may be more pronounced when the Moon reaches its maximum declination, as in the years noted above.

Oprah, Joan Rivers, Tracy Morgan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Christopher Reeve, Clint Eastwood, Kurt Cobain, Louis CK, and Jennifer Anniston are some celebrities with natal Moon OOB.

I know a young girl born with the Moon in Capricorn near maximum southern declination (born in 2005). She is a very happy and outgoing child, but enormously sensitive, something that is not especially obvious. She occasionally has moods of tremendous loneliness and vulnerability. When she was very young, her mother, with a natal Moon nicely organized within the borders of the Sun, thought she was a “drama queen.” I talked to her about the extreme sensitivity of the OOB Moon and gave her a different way to understand her daughter’s nature.

This week I talked with someone who has natal Mercury OOB. She said that sometimes, when she’s speaking about something that makes complete sense to her, she suddenly realizes that the other person has no idea what she’s talking about. She related this to that notion of vulnerability.

I spoke with someone else who has natal Mars OOB (28S05). She is beginning to understand that her directness and outspokenness can sometimes be experienced as aggression, leaving others feeling alienated, and she, vulnerable. (2)

Many people will never have a personal experience of the Moon OOB, either in the natal, or by progression. This may suggest a more emotionally stable life or the ability to navigate emotions more easily.

Those people born with the Moon close to maximum declination can give new meaning to “over-the-top” emotions. It can be a big help in self-understanding (hopefully leading to increased peace of mind) if they can understand the imagery of the OOB Moon.

Here’s a monthly calendar with a graph of the planets’ declinations; a graphic ephemeris is particularly useful in seeing declination.

Not all printed ephemerides include declination tables (software does, of course), but if you prefer a paper copy, here’s a Declination Ephemeris spanning 1930 to 2025, courtesy of Café Astrology. The tables include the Sun through Chiron, but not the Moon.


(1) Declination: The Steps of the Sun, Paul Newman, Wessex, 2006.

(2) Here’s a blog I wrote about an athlete with an extreme OOB Mars in the natal chart: Usain Bolt, known as “the lightning bolt.” “Mars is also way out-of-bounds, at 28°S10’. (The nodes are in Aries/Libra and planets go to the most extreme out-of-bounds when the nodal axis is in these signs.)”

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Toward a Multi-Dimensional View of Mercury Retrograde

By Gary P. Caton | May 4, 2015

 “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”

C.G. Jung  (1)

It has become common for modern astrologers to think of Mercury retrograde in terms of “shadow.” The basic idea seems to be that there are two areas or zones of shadow, one before and one after actual retrograde motion. When in these zones, even though Mercury is traveling direct, we are still (at least potentially) subject to retrograde kinds of experiences. So weeks before the retrograde, after Mercury passes the degree of its eventual station direct, Mercury enters a zone of sky that is eventually crossed three times, and it doesn’t leave this zone for weeks after turning direct — until passing the degree of the initial station retrograde.

However, when we consider not just the motion but also the speed of Mercury, it seems these zones before and after the retrograde could be better described as slow zones. So we can imagine that when Mercury comes to the station degree, we are experiencing a sort of “cosmic speed bump,”  alerting us that we are in a new kind of zone where new rules and/or codes of conduct may apply, similar to when passing through a school or construction zone while driving.

Nevertheless, even when adding the dimension and nuance of speed, I find this view of Mercury retrograde still wanting. Although taking responsibility for the speed with which we navigate our lives should help to assuage some of the dualistic thinking that seems to accompany the commonly held view of Mercury retrograde (direct = good, retrograde = bad), it remains in my eyes a relatively impoverished view. This is because it is taking into account only two dimensions, those of zodiacal longitude and time/speed. And yet, we live in (at least) three dimensions, don’t we?

Rather than thinking of Mercury retrograde in terms of “shadow,” I feel it is more productive to think of it in terms of light, that is, in terms of the visible apparition of Mercury. When we add the dimension of elongation and altitude, we have a truly multi-dimensional perspective that is less likely to become polarized into dualistic roles. To do this, we must look up from our flat 2D charts and into the third dimension of sky. Doing so, one becomes like a former resident of Plato’s cave, in that what was once perceived as mere shadow is now experienced as light. Ironically, while Mercury is traveling within the modern conception of the shadow zones, he is actually making his highest and brightest appearances in the sky — not only visible to the naked eye, but also brighter than most first-magnitude stars (which is pretty dang bright).

Photo: Mercury at the previous greatest elongation, rising bright as morning star on February 24, 2015 and reflected in the ocean at the inaugural Sky Astrology Conference. (2)

Generally speaking, as Mercury gets furthest from the Sun, he appears higher and brighter in the sky.  Astronomers call the points where Mercury reaches furthest distance from the Sun “greatest elongation,” and if you want to actually observe Mercury in the sky, you need to know how to track these times. Unfortunately, they do not appear in any of our modern astrological ephemerides. However, in Volume I of Hermetica Triptycha, my forthcoming series on Mercury, there are 125 years of these alignments arranged into tables categorized by element, sign, degree, and nearby stars. (3)

A few years ago, I discovered a profound mystery contained within the Mercury visible cycle. Zodiacally speaking, the retrograde is a process of Mercury “switching sides” with the Sun. What this means visually is that Mercury “switches skies” and appears both as evening star and morning star within the single retrograde period. Extending this into the so-called shadow periods (before and after the stations), we find that Mercury makes three alignments with the Sun, two visible elongations and one invisible inferior conjunction. Despite being very different in terms of visible phenomenon, mysteriously, all three of these Sun-Mercury events happen within a few degrees of zodiacal longitude.


Some readers will know that there are many variables within Mercury’s orbit. For example, as the late great Robert Blaschke taught, there are actually three different types of retrogrades according to their duration, i.e., short, medium, and long. (4) And yet despite significant differences from one retrograde period to another, the alignments of the two greatest elongations and the inferior conjunction always happen near the same degrees. This is the single constant or fixed element within the cycle of Mercury. It would therefore seem as if these particular thrice-crossed degrees are ones to which we should be paying special attention.

My observations as a mundane astrologer over the last several years have borne out this idea. When Mercury made these three alignments (e.g., the two greatest elongations and the inferior conjunction) in degrees that are sensitive in some way, we have seen increased volatility. For instance, Mercury’s greatest elongations and inferior conjunction occurred near the winter solstice point in late 2010 as the Tunisian Revolution sparked off what became known as the Arab Spring. (See table) And when the Mercurial triple alignments crossed the vernal point in 2012, we saw a coup d’etat in Mali. (See table)

Last year the Mercurial triple-alignments crossed the summer solstice point. On June 29, 2014, we saw the extremist organization, ISIL, proclaim a Worldwide Caliphate or Islamic state. (See table)

Mercury is about to make the triple-alignments with the Sun in the degree of the Royal star Aldebaran (10º Gemini). My suspicion is that we are moving into another of these zones of major volatility or special significance. Just as there is a mundane cross formed by the equinoxes and solstices, there is a celestial cross formed by four very bright stars known as the Royal Stars of Persia. Two bright red stars, Aldebaran and Antares, lie opposite each other and these form a celestial cross with another opposition of two bright blue stars, Fomalhaut and Regulus. At one time this heavenly cross aligned with the mundane cross, and so these stars became associated with the cardinal directions. In this format, Aldebaran was known as “watcher of the east,” when it presided over the vernal equinox.

Depending on the “orb” of influence, or what time value we might wish to associate with these triple-alignments, we might see the developments in Baltimore around the Freddie Gray homicide as being related to these upcoming triple-alignments of Mercury with Aldebaran. Bernadette Brady says this star is about integrity. (5) One current issue seems to be the integrity of hyper-militarized police forces on a national level; deaths of people of color by police have become a huge issue over the last year. Gray was arrested on April 12 — with Mercury past the superior conjunction to the Sun in Aries — and died April 19, 2015 from his injuries.

This example makes me wonder if the thrice-crossed degrees of the maximum elongations and inferior conjunction could possibly become activated as early as the previous superior conjunction and remain active as late as the following superior conjunction. In any event, with Mercury in Gemini, we do now seem to be within the range of influence of these degrees and the star Aldebaran (10º Gemini).

After weeks of protests and unrest, on May 1, Gray’s arrest was ruled illegal and his death declared a homicide, and Baltimore’s chief prosecutor charged six police officers with a range of crimes including murder and manslaughter. (6) Perhaps if Freddie Gray can get justice, his death may serve a larger purpose and we can finally begin a trend toward more police accountability in our country.

If you would like to know more about these triple alignments, and how to track them and use them for personal growth and transformation, please click the link in my publisher’s website and sign up for my mailing list, which will also keep you apprised of the release of my book.

References and recommended reading:

(1) C.G. Jung, “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious,” (R. F. C. Hull, translator). Contained in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung (vol. 9 pt. 1), H. Read et al. (Series Editors), Princeton University Press, 1969.
(Jung is referencing the anima archetype, or the unconscious magical inner feminine aspect within a man, which at first appears to him as merely chaotic.)

(2) For more info about this pioneering event, please see Dream Astrologer.

(3) Volume I is expected out this summer, published by Rubedo Press.

(4) Mercury in Taurus Recurring Cycle for Goldman Sachs Financial Crises by Robert Blaschke

(5) Visual Astrology Newsletter

(6) NY Times

Bio: Gary P Caton is an eclectic astrologer who embraces an organic, process-oriented approach to spiritual growth and transformation via engagement with the living sky. In 1993, after an intensive exploration of shamanism and tarot, Gary was initiated into the astrological sciences by a dream that revealed the Sun-Venus cazimi. In 2002, Caton received a Bachelor in Counseling Psychology from Old Dominion University, and over the past 20 years he has developed a unique multidisciplinary astrological practice. Visit Gary at his website: Dream Astrologer

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May’s Top Five Aspects

By Kelly Surtees | April 20, 2015

Where I live, in a small town northwest of Toronto, Ontario, May is when the gardens come alive. The bulbs that burst through the ground in April turn into stunning hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils, filling the garden with colour and scent. This blossoming is hard to ignore — and it’s catching. I too feel like shining a little brighter, and want to put my best foot forward, as if the weather has finally warmed enough to refresh my spirit after the intense and cold winter. I know that for readers in Australia, or other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, May days are cool and dark, as autumn settles in. May in Sydney, where I’m from, can be about hunkering down, nesting, and enjoying a full bodied red wine by the fire.

Whether you’re ready to burst forth like my garden, or starting to pull out your winter woollies like my Sydney family, the planets have plenty of oomph to offer this May.

To celebrate the fifth month, I’ve selected five important aspects for the month ahead. Of course, there are many others, but I went with my personal set of priorities (inner planets in aspect to Saturn/outer planets, and harder aspects over easier ones) to come up with this list of five aspects to note for May 2015. Once I did that, I listed them chronologically. You’ll notice that these five featured aspects all fall in the second half of May.

May 13 – 15: Mars opposition Saturn, 2° – 3° Gemini/Sagittarius

Mars is a planet about movement, ideally movement that is fast paced. Saturn is a planet about “stop!” or at least, “go slow.” Under such an intense angle, questions about going or stopping must be raised. Do you want to do (Mars) something so badly you will overcome any obstacle, or do so at any cost? Or, are you willing to pause and learn what you can along the way, which might include a more efficient use of your time, energy or resources?

Saturn also represents fear. When Mars, the doing planet, touches Saturn, anxiety, worry, or insecurity can arise. “Can I really do this?” “Am I ready?” “Do I still want to do this?” Think of these questions as natural checks and balances. What looks like a brick wall or sounds like a reason to stop may be a challenge indeed, but it may be a challenge of your commitment to the task at hand, rather than anything meant to be a permanent barrier. To do this one thing, you might need to not do one or two other things. Is that a choice you’re willing to make?

So under this thoughtful and measured seesaw-like opposition, it may pay to slow down, step back, and take the advice of a wise elder. Experience has value and the wisdom of those who’ve done what you want to do may reveal an essential piece of advice that you’d overlook if you acted in haste. Under this aspect, it’s a case of “slow and steady wins the race.”

May 21 – 23: Sun opposite Saturn, 1°- 2° Gemini/Sagittarius

The Sun is actually the third planet to oppose Saturn in May. Mercury also made this opposition back on May 2 – 3. With three planets opposing Saturn in early Sagittarius this month, you may notice a pattern emerging, especially around hurdles that are personally significant. While this sounds demanding — and let’s be honest, Saturn always asks for completion and diligence so there will be no cutting corners — it’s in fact a cosmic gift. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have received a preview of the Saturn-in-Sagittarius topics and themes that are likely to emerge for you.

An opposition between the Sun and Saturn pits the brightest light, the Sun, against the darkest planet, Saturn. This is a true pairing of opposites, so expect highs and lows and the contrast between light and dark to seem extreme. This light and dark is not synonymous with good and bad, but rather an invitation to explore opposites. You might consider what it means to be busy in contrast to what quiet time and not busy really looks and feels like. You might explore the line between duty and expression, between what you want to do and what you must do.

Given the back and forth nature of an opposition, you may re-negotiate an existing commitment, contract, or responsibility. Saturn can bring awareness — which grows from a dark, deep place within — about what is and isn’t working. If so, use the strength of Saturn to connect with your backbone and make necessary real-world adjustments.

The Sun always wants to shine. It’s the planet that inspires you to be brighter, be better, and be more you. Under this opposition, you may need an adjustment or a redirection to back up to your most authentic path. Even if it means work, it will be worth it.

May 20 – 22: Venus opposite Pluto, 15° – 16° Cancer/Capricorn; and May 24 – 26, Venus square Uranus, 19° – 20° Cancer/Aries

I put these two aspects together because Uranus and Pluto are only a couple of degrees from their exact square aspect. Venus in Cancer represents the yearning for family, for a nurturing clan that always has your back. There’s an element of tradition within the Cancer/Capricorn axis, and planets in these signs might manifest in a more conservative or cautious way.

As Venus opposes Pluto, family dramas may intensify, or issues concerning trust, truth, and honesty may arise in all kinds of relationships. Venus in Cancer seems most particularly about family relationships, but it’s still Venus, the love goddess, so consider any intimate or close partnership, either at work or in your personal life. The seesaw theme of the opposition appears again. This time the dance is between what helps secure the future of a close relationship and the requirements placed upon you by work or external factors. Cancer/Capricorn oppositions can highlight the eternal struggle to balance work and family. Under this aspect, currently operating patterns may need to change.

Venus doesn’t oppose Pluto in a vacuum. Shortly afterward, Venus will square Uranus, creating a clash-bang theme that is sure to shake up the rhythms in your home or within your most nourishing relationships. Uranus in Aries is all about innovation and independence, values that are at odds with the focus on tradition and security highlighted by Venus in Cancer. This can create an uncomfortable feeling that might indicate a need to experiment. Rather than stick your head in the sand, you might find that a curious attitude to an emerging possibility will help add excitement and reshape home, family, and love so that it’s more relevant for today.

May 24 – 26: Mars square Neptune, 9° – 10° Gemini/Pisces

The typically alert and active drive of Mars is muted now, both by Mars’ proximity to the Sun (technically combust) and through Mars’ interplay with free-floating Neptune. The realm of what might be or a much desired fantasy could interfere with day-to-day reality. If possible, avoid major decisions and reduce demanding commitments. A singular focus or goal may help you get something done, though really, under aspects like these, a break from work or time off may be best.

Anything that allows you to lie low and catch up on rest would be ideal. Music, time in or near the ocean or water, or disconnecting from reality and escaping via your preferred artistic medium can help you recharge. A lack of clarity can impede progress. If you feel in a bit of a fog, go slow or turn your attention inward. Ideas, feelings, and concepts may be hard to pin down, but with a little time or reflection the right choice will crystallise.

May 30 – 31: Sun square Neptune, 9° – 10° Gemini/Pisces

It’s the end of the month, but in the lead-up to the early June Sagittarius Full Moon, you might stumble into a puddle. This puddle might be forgotten feelings, or a neglected dream or yearning you’ve been trying to ignore. Life can be hazy or a bit messy when the Sun and Neptune trigger each other, but this will add depth and richness. If possible, allow space to explore what bubbles up seemingly out of nowhere.

A longing for the perfect experience, or the desire to get a little closer to your dream life, might leave you disillusioned with the way things are. In this discontent lies opportunity. Use any feelings of sadness or frustration that emerge now as clues to what you need to add to your life, especially if there’s an experience or a hobby that brings you joy that you’ve pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. It might not seem practical, but adding it back in now — even in the midst of what otherwise seems like a bustling week — can reinvigorate you. A slight detour sometimes reveals the most exciting possibilities. Try not to over-think your instincts. Go with the flow, without expectation.

Kelly is a consulting astrologer, teacher, writer, and editor who works with clients and students around the world. With more than 12 years in private practice, Kelly is experienced, warm, and insightful. She loves exploring astrology’s history as well as escaping into the ocean. Kelly’s passion for astrology is infectious, and her specialty areas include Moon Phases, timing techniques like progressions, and incorporating traditional concepts. She can be found lecturing at conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Kelly holds the Australian FAA Practitioner’s Diploma and is an expat Aussie who lives in Canada most of the year. Website: Kelly’s Astrology

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Checking in with Jupiter

By Mary Plumb | February 9, 2015

Midday on Sunday, with the transiting Moon in Libra opposing Uranus (13°33′ Aries) and about to square Pluto (14°27′ Cap), I got a call from a friend who was having a panic attack. I was able to stay on the phone with her until her partner got home.
These “panic attack” moments are somewhat familiar to those of us tracking the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square, now approaching the 7th and final exact aspect on March 16 at 15°18′ of their respective cardinal signs. I wrote a few weeks ago that this is the aspect “that has been keeping us from falling back to sleep.”
The sequence of the Moon’s travels on Sunday, however, led me to think about Jupiter. After the square to Pluto, the Moon made a sextile to Jupiter and a trine to the Sun before moving into Scorpio late tonight (Monday). (1)
Jupiter is retrograde and very bright in the night sky. (2) On February 6th the Sun opposed Jupiter (17°37′ Aquarius – Leo), which places us midway in their synodic cycle that began with the conjunction on July 24, 2014 at 1°52′ Leo. Look to the house in your natal chart where this cycle began and imagine that a benevolent and generous impulse was born there. And now you may look for the fulfillment of an inner promise, or of a vow or oath towards goodness related to the affairs of that house.
Jupiter, the “greater benefic” in traditional astrology, is connected to all manner of plenty and abundance, to that which expands our view and keeps hopefulness on the horizon. (3)
Although we know that the planetary archetypes are finely calibrated in any particular horoscope, I am herein evoking Jupiter as our trust in the goodness of life, our experience of joy and laughter, and the knowing that our inner compass points toward integration. (4)
The opposition means that Jupiter rises around the time the Sun sets, is visible all night, being overhead around midnight, and sets around sunrise. Jupiter will be visible in the night sky throughout February. “The giant world burns at magnitude minus 2.6, three times as bright as Sirius, the brightest star, which sparkles very far to Jupiter’s right or lower right on February evenings.” (5)
Here are some recent photos from the Hubble, which show the rare event of three moons of Jupiter crossing the face of the planet at the same time. “In the last 15 years, this has happened only twice, the Space Telescope Science Institute said. ‘The next one will be 2032,’ said astronomer Carol Christian.”
With clear skies you can see Jupiter in the night sky, and here you can listen to the sounds of Jupiter (from a Voyager recording):
Enjoy the current planets on your screen here: What’s Up for February 2015, a graphic overview from NASA including Jupiter’s moons, the Venus-Mars conjunction on the 21st, and Juno.

Have a good week, everyone. Keep looking up on the clear nights this month to see the greater benefic guiding you along.
(1) In horary terms, this is a translation of light by the Moon from Jupiter to the Sun; the Moon is carrying the light of Jupiter to the Sun. However, some sources say the translation is more effective if, in this case, the Moon (in Libra) were receiving either Jupiter (Leo) or the Sun (Aquarius). “Some references suggest a need for the transferring planet to be received by the planet it is separating from or applying to.” I am thinking of it in poetic terms — as I am writing, the Moon is connecting Jupiter and the Sun.
(2) Jupiter stationed retrograde on December 8 at 22° Leo and will go direct on April 8 at 12° Leo.
(3) Chris Brennan: “The term ‘benefic’ is derived from the Greek term agathopoios which literally means ‘good-doer’ “
Horoscopic Astrology Blog
“Jupiter was not only the protective deity of the race, but he was regarded as the guardian of public morality, being concerned with oaths, treaties, alliances, and wars. Socially Jupiter also was concerned with the citizen’s duties toward the gods, state, and family….He was particularly responsible for honoring oaths, which led to the practice of swearing in his name, by Jupiter! Or by Jove!”
The Mystica
(4) According to the doctrine of sect, for example, Jupiter is a more obvious benefic in the chart of a person born during the day. Jupiter’s place by sign, house, aspects, reception, etc., are some of the variables in a more specific assessment of its function in a horoscope.  
(5) NBC News

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