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The vigilant present

We’re getting ready to call back the Sun at the solstice, which is also the New Moon, right there, at 0°07′ Capricorn. I like the image that the luminaries are in consort, in union, on this auspicious day.

How’s everyone doing?

Last night’s (10:14 p.m. PST) exact square is the sixth in a series of seven passages of the outer-planet aspect that has been keeping us from falling back to sleep.

World events are striking as waves of upheaval and discharge move across the human story. The symbolism of Uranus square Pluto can be seen as pressure on all systems. The current square is the only one in the series to have the Moon on the Aries Point at the time of the partile aspect. The Moon is at 0° Libra, on the ‘World Axis,’ which throws open the door for events to impact the world at large.

If we consider the outer planets in their role as carriers of subtle energy, the current force for shocking upheaval moves through all spheres — subjective and structural, explicit and implicit, well reasoned and deeply unconscious.

How do we respond to pressure?

I heard a local chiropractor/healer give a talk a few days ago on stress. He has a busy practice and lots of patients. He observed that most people have one or two ways of handling stress, like focusing on diet or a particular exercise or a certain friend with whom to talk.

He recommends (I paraphrase) that we go big and go diverse in response to stress; sticking with the familiar will bring some relief, but far better, he said, to have lots of means and methods to stay connected with ourselves and maintain some version of balance. Change it up — take a different route on your walk, go out and be social when you feel like staying in, call someone who is having a harder time than you. This is an interesting idea (from a healer) that, to me, spoke to the energy of Uranus square Pluto. Uranus is in the degree of its station direct on the solstice, so that particularly unnerving planet is very strong at this moment in time.

Like most of us, I find that being in nature is stabilizing. It has been very windy and wet, though not enough to touch the drought conditions here in southern Oregon. I go to a nearby lake for solitary pilgrimages up and down the hills. Someone asked me recently how I could bear to still go out there, it being so barren with hardly any water. He is a climate change activist, and, to him, the nearly empty lake has been a source of anguish and a depressing visual picture of our possible future.

I have had a change of perspective. It is barren and bleak, and, still, I find it beautiful; this is a place where I can be in the sun and wind and air. (Even on the shortest days, the Sun is the source of life; having an even fleeting glimpse of the preciousness of this life is a balm for the soul.)

This simple experience of refining my view, changing perspective, and being with — in this case, the barren and bleak landscape — seemed like a good practice for loosening the sometimes excruciating grip of Uranus square Pluto.

Very early one morning last week, after a long night of howling wind, the power was out. After a moment’s panic at how ill prepared I am for such things — (Where are the candles? How will I stay warm? What will I do without my tea?) — I settled into my chair by the window with my cat and stayed quiet and still in the dark until the Sun came up. It was a beautiful morning after all.

Please have a blessed and inspiring Solstice, and joyous celebrations in whatever faith you hold. We’ll return with a new blog on December 29.


  1. Oh Mary! What a beautiful piece of writing. Yours would be the kind of diary/journal that I would love to read at any time day or night, full moon, new moon or old moon. I loved the image of you in that chair. It conveyed so deeply, your experience, whether as moment to moment or as the view of a slice of eternity. So personal. So universal. How lucky we all are to have your reflections. This is such a powerful week. Cardinal.Forceful.Holy. I will hold your writing in my heart and remember it as we move through this time as if it were a gift to us all who read and love your wonderful magazine.
    Love to you and to yours, Judie Harte

    • Dear Judith,

      Thank you! I appreciate that what I wrote wasn’t just personal..I never know that until someone responds!

      Your words are perfect: “Cardinal.Forceful.Holy”

      Take good care..


  2. Thank you for a great article.
    Always good to know we are not alone in events that happen around us.
    What a ride.
    A much needed shift in perspective, thanks for articulating it so well.

    • Hello Jacquelene,

      Thank you…how are you faring? Are you having the wind and rain like up here?


  3. Thank you so much, Mary!
    What a wonderfully evocative, inspiring, and indeed comforting, piece of writing.
    I am a long way from you in Winchester, England and yet your words have touched my soul.
    The blessings of the season to you.

    • Dear Susie,

      Thank you very much..I very much appreciate you taking the time for such a nice comment..

      Yes, blessings of the season to you and yours as well..



  4. Many thanks, Mary, for this calming reflective piece as the Solstice approaches. We very much need ‘still points’ in this turbulent world of ours.
    I ‘ll share the post on my astrology Facebook page.

    • Hi Anne,

      You are such a dear and faithful reader and support..

      Thank you.

      I’m so glad I was able to find words for my experience..I know you know what that is like!

      Much Love,


  5. Mary,

    This was balm for my soul today – Missing one’s morning tea, walking along a changed landscape, accepting what is and not pining for what is lost…. seems the perfect expression of this square between Uranus and Pluto that just seems to never end. The leaves are falling here in Texas and I’m mulching them into the lawn this year instead of bagging them for the landfill. It feels good to make this small change and to be outside during these short days. It’s good to be flexible in today’s world. That chiropractor may be on to something! A different way of doing things may be healing as well as reducing stress. Embracing the quiet of a sunrise – what a nice recollection of a stressful event. I appreciate you so much! Rebecca

  6. Dear Mary
    Thank you, I always enjoy your practical interpretations of the sky, and this one speaks to me a lot..from here in the Southern hemisphere, at 33 degrees South, approaching solstice has a different feel..a summer feel, but that same barren-ness of soul scouring searching for meaning.What I come to see is that attention to detail, in a fast moving world is what gives it meaning.We take so much for granted.Always looking at the big picture, we don’t see the ladybug on the leaf or the pattern on the stone or the ripples on the water.Change is our constant, on that we can rely! but to sink deeper, to where the passage of time is slower (growth of a tree)is to connect to the heartbeat of the planet, and ultimately, to ourselves.To Be Gentle, is to be Kind, is to be Present.much love. Kate

    • Hello Kate,

      What a gracious and loving comment…thank you very much for contributing your thoughts, your gentle feelings..


  7. Here ‘down under’ on the morning of 16th we awoke to the news of the tragic deaths of two heros who each put their lives before others in the siege in Sydney. One the manager of the chocolate shop who at 2am tried to disarm the gunman and was shot; and the barrister, mother of three, who covered a pregnant woman with her own body and died in the shooting. Blessings to the both of them and their grieving families.

    • Hello Carol,

      Thank you for the tales of bravery in the chaos..

      Yes, prayers for all those caught in the cycles of violence..


  8. Thank you, Mary for this deeply reflective post. Down here in Cape Town, South African, we move towards the summer solstice. An intensity of light, some days heat, some days the strong south-easterly wind blowing from the Antarctic. A scouring, shaking-up, erratic wind… very Uranian. Yes, to be flexible, to keep adjusting to each moment, to drop preconceptions and as you have so eloquently expressed, to be with what is dying or maybe profoundly changing with an open heart that can still seeing the beauty. Still loving what is. Much gratitude

    • Hi Tracy,

      Thank you..I am about to step out into the unusually persistent wind to go for a walk..

      Love to you and yours,


  9. Thank you Mary for this deeply reflective post and for sharing your personal experience. It speaks to my heart. Down here in Cape Town, South Africa, we head towards the summer solstice. A very different energy. An intensity of life, some days hot, others the south-easterly wind blowing from the Antarctic. A scouring, erratic, shaking-up wind… very Uranian. Yes, to be flexible and adjust moment to moment, to drop preconceptions and to be with what is dying or profoundly changing with an open heart that can still see the beauty.

  10. Thank you Mary for this deeply reflective post. Your personal experiences speak to me, too, down here in Cape Town, South Africa, even though we are heading to the summer solstice. A very different energy – intensity of life, some hot days, some days the south-easter wind blowing strongly from the Antarctic. A scouring, erratic, shaking-up wind… very Uranian. Yes, to be flexible, to be with what is, keeping the heart open to what is dying or profoundly changing and still to see the beauty. Much gratitude.

  11. Terrific and so useful Mary. Thank YOU!

    • Hi Demetrius,

      Thank you…Virgo MC, I love to be ‘useful’…didn’t especially feel that way when I wrote this, so that’s a very nice acknowledgement..

      Be well, go Vegans,


  12. Hello … I write from Bali, close to the Equator, so day and night are always about equal. But today, especially, the sense of a Sol-stice (Sun standing still) is palpable, as it is the festival of Galungan (Google Images, search “penjor” for pix) which celebrates the battle between the Demonic forces and the forces of Light. The Light will always win, but the battle has to be fought anyway!

    This festival lasts for 10 days, and so this year takes in both Christmas and the Summer/Winter solstice. Traditional Balinese families are at home or visiting a local temple, making offerings, praying and having festive food together. the whole ten days is also a time when the ancestral spirits are honoured, sometimes coming close to the living. Every morning at dawn, the priests chant the sacred scriptures and ring bells whose sound ripples across the newly planted rice-fields …

    So somehow the intensity of the Uranus-Pluto, occurring as it did in the midst of the island-wide preparations for Galungan, sort of blasted everyone into ‘sacred space’.

    And here we all are … celebrating Existence …

    • Dear Melanie,

      Love to you as ever..

      “…blasted into sacred space and celebrating Existence”….beautifully said..thank you..

      I put up a beautiful tree and went overboard with lights outside too….makes me very happy.

      The festival sounds gorgeous..


  13. Dearest Mary, (Mom!), what a truly thoughtful, wise, and personal evaluation/explanation of right now. I am blessed to have your insight and wisdom in my life! A guide in this sometimes perilous path called life. Again, thank you for all you do!! Josh.

    • Hi Josh,

      Thank you! What a wonderful surprise to have your comment..

      Onwards and upwards, always and all ways, (no stepping down) ;))


  14. Hi Mary! Fun to see comments to your blog from South Africa and Bali when I am right here with you in So. Oregon. I woke at 5.45 am that windy day just in time to see the fireball erupt from where my 100′ fir tree had dropped on the powerline on Iowa Street. Wow!

    • Hi Jan,

      Have we met? Ashland is a small town…;)

      Do you know about our local NCGR chapter?

      I’d love to connect..

      Thank you for reading..


  15. Mary, I was deeply touched by the interweave of the personal and the cosmic and the images of you walking by the lake, waking at home looking for the candles…but don’t worry I have plenty.


  16. I do not think I can say anything more supportive and beautiful than what had been already said by the 23 people ahead of me. The fact that your son commented is testimony to your exquisite writing and your capacity to write of the zeitgeist. much love always

  17. As a most loyal reader of your blog, I don’t often comment. I’m feeling I must add my voice to this throng in celebration of your exquisite ability to articulate a way through the labyrinth of life. Simple actions can and do change the world.

    Thank you Mary, for this welcome perspective.

    “This simple experience of refining my view, changing perspective, and being with — in this case, the barren and bleak landscape — seemed like a good practice for loosening the sometimes excruciating grip of Uranus square Pluto.”

  18. Good advice. I find myself lately looking for a new path to walk. There is one I’m about to check out near my office here in East Austin…a bike path that’s barely used. New Moon at the Solstice, but the year begins with a Void Moon. Nothing will go as planned…and, in a sense, the revolution has arrived (Uranus SD). However, the last aspect of the Moon will be a conjunction with Ceres. This will be her year, as she reveals her secrets with the arrival of the Dawn spacecraft in March. New years blessings to you.

  19. I came here today from a link on Mountain Astrologer – and love your blog – I am still in the northern hemisphere but almost half way around the world, over 5,000 miles in fact, in central France! Here we have had the polarity of weather, very little sun and for days there has been an enormous blanket of cloud and moisture that has stretched across a huge area. I am awaiting the Solstice with the anticipation of the ancients!

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