TMA This Week

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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Skywatch for the Week of December 1, 2014

By Lance Ferguson | December 1, 2014

All times are given in CST. Subtract one hour for MST; subtract two hours for PST; add one hour for EST and six hours for GMT.

(Editor’s note:The author notes “kiss” times as good for scheduling events. “Quack” times are more complicated or difficult — good times to stick to routine.)
Monday, December 1: Buckle up. We are in the midst of one of the most difficult periods of time, as rebellious Uranus approaches a challenging square to destructive Pluto in the heavens. Brutal dictators came to power in the early 1930’s when this aspect last occurred in the sky. This Uranus-Pluto energy has affected world events since their first exact contact in 2012, followed by four more exact squares since then. The sixth square occurs on December 14 and suggests the possibility of further reports of violence and destruction in the headlines, as these two powerful planets unleash the dogs of war.

Most of us will notice an unsteady, off-center, somewhat crazy kind of feeling as this square gets tighter. Try not to get caught up in the high drama that may unfold around you. Best to sit tight over the first two weeks of the month unless you’re forced to move. The square prompts some folks to act out their unpredictable, rebellious side, and is also likely to forecast problems with computers and electricity, both ruled by Uranus.

The good news is that the rest of the Skywatch this month is upbeat and positive. Green lights are up on Monday. This is a stellar day for making important calls and doing business. The Sun and Moon form a trine at 11:30 a.m. (CST), setting the stage for progress. Even better, Mars and Saturn are in a complementary sextile at 1:00 p.m. One quack: Moon square demanding Pluto at 4:12 p.m. Take a break then, and wait for a surprise as Luna travels on to meet unpredictable Uranus at 5:12 p.m. Clear skies follow. As times change…..
Tuesday, December 2: Get an early start, because the Skywatch is excellent this morning for everything on your agenda. The Moon trines Venus at 5:14 a.m., inspiring a positive start to your day. The big kiss follows as the Moon in fiery Aries lines up in a trine to lucky Jupiter in Leo at 10:16 a.m. The good vibes will hang out all morning and suggest a very good time to meet new clients, interview for a job, and to ask for what you want. Clear skies follow until 8:42 p.m. when the Moon squares Mars. Use the Mars energy to do the dishes or take a walk. Quiet hours follow. As times change….
Wednesday, December 3: We are on a roll. The Skywatch over the next three days is loaded with positive markers. Plus, the Moon entered its favorite sign Taurus late last night and makes only kisses today. Green lights are up for work or play. Trust your intuition this morning as Luna sextiles psychic Neptune at 7:50 a.m. Clear skies follow until the Moon makes a splendid trine to healing Pluto at 8:46 p.m. tonight. Yes, speak up this evening ­— the lines are open.

If this is your birthday week (Nov. 30 — Dec. 6), you’ve got a hot car to run fast and far during your new year, Sagittarius. Your 2014 Solar Return has two big-time kisses, starting with Uranus trining your natal Sun. Uranus can spark your genius and make necessary life changes easier. When connected to your Sun, it is also more likely that bosses and other authority figures will approve of your work and ideas. This trine prompts you to follow your bliss and Uranus won’t be in a position to trine your Sun again until 2040-42. The second kiss is pure joy as sweet Venus trines lucky Jupiter, your ruler. Put yourself in the position to find love and improve your finances, to let Venus and Jupiter make you a winner. You won’t pass this way again, Sag. As times change….
Thursday, December 4: A day of Grace. The Skywatch is fabulous for gambling and taking a chance in life today. Sweet Venus trines lucky Jupiter at 1:11 p.m., infusing morning and early afternoon hours with a positive perspective and an easygoing vibe. This also suggests a very good morning for cosmetic/beauty appointments of all kinds — Venus has a lovely touch. One moment to slow down appears at 3:12 p.m. when the Moon squares Jupiter — this is minor and fades very quickly. A flash of lightning, a moment of truth, or perhaps a brilliant new idea appears in the Skywatch when the Sun trines innovative Uranus at 4:30 p.m. Clear skies follow into the evening hours. Nothing planned today? Pay attention to who and what show up — good news is likely. As times change…..
Friday, December 5: New ideas, new thinking. The main event in the Skywatch today is logical Mercury making a complementary trine to Uranus, exact at 9:44 p.m. This is a good day and evening to think outside the box and to get your message out there. A hearty Moon-Mars trine at 5:07 a.m. releases an extra bolt of energy into the early hours. The only quack is a foggy Moon-Neptune square at 1:21 p.m. Slow down and pay attention around this moment – clear skies will quickly follow. A Full Moon in clever Gemini lights up the evening skies; the words may come fast and furious as feelings surface. Listen carefully and you are likely to hear the truth. As times change…..
Saturday, December 6: Lots of words. A Full Moon in curious Gemini becomes exact at 6:27 a.m. this morning. The energy of this event is bound to wake the kids up earlier than usual and sets the stage for a high energy and enjoyable day. Green lights are up for work and play. The only other event in the Skywatch is a kiss: Moon sextiles generous Jupiter at 9:48 p.m. Clear skies follow.
Sunday, December 7: The Skywatch is mellow. The Moon turns Void of Course at 3:52 a.m. until she enters home sign Cancer at 11:34 a.m. this morning. Starting then, green lights come on for the rest of the day and night. A gentle Moon-Neptune trine at 8:53 p.m. favors art, music, dance, romance, and a sweet bedtime story. As times change….
Bio: Lance Ferguson lives on the south Texas coast and has been reading natal charts and teaching astrology since 1979. He began to write Skywatch in 1989 and now posts the highs and lows for the day on his website daily. The good aspects in the heavens he calls “kisses” — these are the better days and times to take action. He turns on the caution lights when stressful aspects appear in the heavens, signaling days when things can be a bit tense or out-of-synch; he calls these events “quacks.” Use his daily forecast to help you make the right calls at the right time, and to schedule the important events in your life. He offers the 2015 Skywatch Long-Range Datebook: An Astrological Timing Guide for All Signs. Please see Skywatch Astrology for details. Contact him at

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Have you seen the Sun at midnight?

By Mary Plumb | November 3, 2014

I once heard Robert Hand talk about Saturn in an early period in astrological history (Babylonian/Egyptian?). Saturn was not usually named, but called “the Sun at midnight.”

Saturn was not seen as a malefic — the question “Have you seen the Sun at midnight?” meant “Have you confronted Saturn?”

Those of us with planets or sensitive points in late Scorpio (or in 8th-harmonic aspect to 24°- 30° Scorpio) are now in some version of serious inner inquiry. Saturn got to 23° Scorpio in March, went retrograde, then turned direct at 16° in late July. Saturn just arrived at a new degree (24°) on November 1. The current weeks — until December 23 when Saturn enters Sagittarius — are Saturn’s first transit through these late degrees. Certainly, the ground for Saturn’s work has been well prepared (Saturn entered Scorpio in October 2012), but these late degrees are quite ready to complete the confrontation with Saturn in this cycle.

Alchemical and esoteric texts speak of Saturn as the planet of discipleship. Saturn is connected to the negrido, the blackness wherein the great work of self-knowledge starts. In Scorpio, this is not an intellectual pursuit, but rather a confrontation with one’s inner reality in often painful ways. Saturn is known of course to bring states of depression and melancholy, but these emotional experiences can lead us to begin to see in the dark, to see what has heretofore been hidden. (1)

(In alchemical language, the next stage is often said to be the albedo, the white phase, wherein we have a new understanding of ourselves, or a particular problem, and see a way to keep going.)

But now we are still moving towards the center of ourselves, where the seed of change can be most potently ignited.

Saturn’s connection is also to boundaries, the land of the “ring-pass-not” in esoteric lore. These rings, so astoundingly beautiful with Saturn — do not pass any opportunity you may have to see them through a telescope — are often imagined as the beliefs, the ego structures, that keep us separate. Saturn also suggests the temporarily impassible frontiers; with time, and with enormous patience and attentiveness, we observe ourselves carefully, slowly, and kindly.

Scorpio holds the deep mystery of all that is unredeemed, all those who have gone to the land of the shades, those parts of ourselves, heretofore unseen, unfelt, or trapped in memory or regret.

These last few weeks invite us to not move too hastily away from attending to the unconscious and the invisible world that is replete with meaning and carried through emotion. (2)

For some, this will be inevitable, as there is no ego structure left to keep the interior life at bay, and some certainly have the patience to wait, to sense as meaning begins to unfurl from the inside out.

Saturn has a way of stripping away aspects of consciousness wherein we prefer to dwell, those arenas (seen often as the Sun and the Moon) where we are recognized and rewarded, or at least feel comfortable. Saturn in Scorpio’s many gifts include the deep intelligence of instinct and intuition, and the acceptance that much of our inner lives cannot be put into words.

I have found a few poems from that often unspeakable land.

Rilke’s poem, Pushing Through, is often quoted as solace for the process of grief. It speaks of the essence of Saturn in Scorpio. We only have a few more weeks (well yes, a short revisit during his retrograde phase in summer 2015, but by then we will have tasted the spirit of Sagittarius to guide us), so let’s make the best of it.

Pushing Through
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers,
as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief –
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in: then your great transforming
will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to you.

Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Robert Bly)
And this, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Trust in the Slow Work of God
Above all, trust in the slow work of God
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability-
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser. Amen.

(1) I have been wondering about Sect in this regard — see The Astrology of Sect by Chris Brennan (TMA 12/10) and Understanding Sect by Austin Coppock (TMA 10/13). Although Saturn is in Sect in a daytime chart, maybe those born at night have a somewhat easier passageway into the kind of interior process I am describing here. People born at night are naturally “beholden to the forces” of the night, both in symbolism and experience. (To quote Austin Coppock: “The implication of Sect is that the time one was born marks one as being more beholden to the forces of either day or night.”)

(2) Although likely known by mystics and healers since the beginning of time, the idea that ancestral memory may be carried in the DNA has been a theme in scientific circles with the current transit of Saturn in Scorpio.
See “Scientists have found that memories may be passed down through generations in our DNA”: The Mind Unleashed

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