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Return to Basics

Yesterday, on a windy walk at the lake, I was thinking about astrology and time and space. Not in any complicated way, just the simple notion that as astrologers we basically watch the movements of the planets through time and along the ecliptic.

Around Ashland, the cozy little town where I live, people at the coop or the post office often ask if there’s anything special going on with the planets, almost as if they only “do something” at certain times. We astrologers know that it’s always special. It’s always an intricate and overlapping unfolding of cycles. That’s part of the challenge of talking about the cosmos in language that will be helpful (and comprehensible) to people.

At any moment there are countless geometries happening within the solar system, and we often take it apart and consider one aspect or a particular cycle of planets. There’s always something compelling to notice and be informed by, as many astrological writers help us see.

On my walk by the lake, which is large and surrounded by the gentle — and biologically diverse — mountains in southern Oregon, I remembered the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. This is what was revealed when the telescope was pointed at an apparently blank section of the sky, leading scientists to the current assessment that there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe.

Being in awe of that grand expanse, I thought I would write this week’s blog on something simple — a few words about each of the planets. The heavenly spheres are always in perfect unison and harmony. Here’s a short remembrance of each of the planets; a visit to the basic ground that astrologers have watched from timeless time.

Saturn is how we finesse our fate, engage our responsibilities, and carry on with composure and inner stillness.  We stand, both upright and relaxed, use just the right amount of pressure, and know we are being moved by purpose.

Jupiter is our trust in the goodness of life, our connection with joy, and the knowledge that our compass points towards meaning.

Mars holds anger. It shows where we can agitate for the good; use the right amount of heat and a calibrated forcefulness. It is our place for impetuousness, and where we are inflamed by both kindness and rage.

Pluto lets us look directly at what is most ominous, difficult, threatening, or dark, and experience a hint of the eternal radiance that that fearsomeness is masking.

Uranus takes us — wildly and willfully, fearlessly and fiercely — to let shock have its moment, and to respond to life’s strange newness with reverence and openness.

Neptune brings the true wonder that nothing is as it appears to be; that reality is not linear after all; that we can glide in and out of pools of bliss and pools of activity, all the while being aware of everyone and everything else.

Chiron, the ever-present knowledge that a glance, or a breath, or a thought, is a gesture through which our perceptions both open and close; where we experience both trust and caution, each perfectly at the right, out-of-the-ordinary, moment.

Mercury gives us thoughts that have wings; shows us when agreements and details are important; tells us to pay attention at the crossroads and teaches that our nervous systems can always be kept supple and fluid.

Venus, of course, lovely evening or morning star, Hesperus or Phosphorus, who shows that amorousness, beauty, contentment, harmony are always nearby and that Love truly is all.

And, we stay in our own physical bodies by the always generous warmth and gold of the Sun, intertwined with the cool, calming silver of the Moon.

After this bit of anchoring in the tried and true, onwards to some of the week’s many other marvelous stories from the skies: We’re in the last decan of the Sun in Scorpio, which makes its twice yearly square to Neptune on Sunday. We’re approaching eclipse season — a solar eclipse on November 24 at 2°36’ Sagittarius, and the lunar eclipse on December 10 at 18°10’ Gemini. (TMA blogs on these are in the works now.) Mars in early Virgo, slow and steady, will trine Jupiter in Taurus on Wednesday; the Great Attractor prevails. Nessus and Pholus, Eris, Sedna, Makemake, Haumea, and all the other dwarf planets, asteroids, and Centauric bodies continue in their magical paths around the Sun.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.


  1. Stunning essay, Mary. You teach the basics beautifully. Looking forward to your take on the eclipses.

  2. I have only charts which were done 25yrs ago when I studied. Then life got in the way and well, life gets in the way of everything. I have no clue when chiron is in my chart. And even so, is it to be understood in birth or progressed?

  3. Hi Mary,

    I love this week’s column. Reminding us of the basics makes me think of simplicity as the true elegance. The humility (not humiliation) of ego as ego faces the eternal radiance of the cosmos.

    Mercury is my ruling planet, so I always pay special attention to his yearly walk. In my email, I include this in my signature line:

    “By words the mind is winged.” – Aristophanes

    I notice you too like the concept of Mercury giving wings to thought.


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