Mercury Retrograde: Ring of Fire

Noticed an upsurge in interpersonal fireworks? That would be Mercury retrograde in Aries, which started today and continues through April 23.

On the positive end, the news has a tidy playing out of the bold and pioneering potentials of this sign. Yesterday, as Mercury was stationing to go retrograde, NASA released the first photo ever of the planet.

On the not entirely positive end…I’ve already observed a marked increase in aggression in communication. Take note: this cycle is going to plunge a lot of people into a passionate, frustrated and angry ring of fire.

When the planet that rules communication and transportation goes backwards (it’s an optical illusion), messages go astray; misunderstandings and confusion abound; technology malfunctions; traffic snarls; travel gets delayed. It’s advisable to postpone launching major projects, signing major contracts and buying big-ticket items. Double-check fine print, backup your data and allow lots of extra time when you’re on the road.

With all this happening in fiery Aries …. these precautions go double! frustration will be rampant. Confusion will spin off impatience and anger. People could twist off and be completely mistaken about whatever set them off.

The good news? This is an excellent time to investigate and research, finish old business, clean up paperwork and get in touch with people you haven’t talked to in a while. Boldness and daring will be favored.

All the same … put on that fire suit.

Hellazopping! Forecast for March 28-April 3

The intensity is ramping back up this week. Let all those wonderful moments from last weekend sink deep into your cells and psyche. They are valuable reminders of what’s most important to you. Hang on to them. They will help you know more easily which battles to fight, which to abandon and which to ignore this week. Not to mention when to duck.

Read more. Listen to more.

Reminder: My weekly weather has moved FROM to

Venus & Neptune Come Down to Earth

This weekend Venus met Neptune, moved into his home of Pisces, and spun out out a couple of fascinating examples of extraordinary love.

The New York Times reported the arrival of a postcard 24 years late that reconnected two old friends and brought heart healing to the stranger who now lives in the NYC apartment to which it was addressed. The postcard was sent on March 17, 1987, two Jupiter cycles ago, with Mercury, planet of communication at 0 Pisces. The card arrived last month, as Mars was moving into conjunction with Chiron (healer of the abiding wound!) in early Pisces.

The postcard was a message of hope and comfort from one dear friend to another, suggesting that the recipient nurse a broken heart by moving home to California. The woman who received it didn’t realize at first that she wasn’t the intended recipient, that’s how directly it spoke to her current plight and — AND — she has the same last name as the addressee. Further fun fact: the postcard was initially written around the time of the addressee’s birthdate, Feb. 5 — making her an Aquarian woman, whose link to her dear old friend came back around when Venus was in … Aquarius.

“Life is a romantic adventure, remember, romance is everywhere!” the postcard ended, a perfect Venus/Neptune message. All three woman have now connected and expressed an awe bordering on the metaphysical that they have been brought together. The intended recipient told the Times, “It’s an overwhelming gift that the three of us have been given.”

At the other end of the spectrum, TCM inadvertently celebrated the Venus/Neptune conjunction by airing the 1945 film Mildred Pierce on “The Essentials” Saturday evening. It was a career-reviving vehicle for Joan Crawford, but her screen goddess status isn’t the only characteristic that fits the conjunction. The story does, too, following a mother’s love so self-sacrificing that it ruined lives. Mildred Pierce embodies the unhealthy end of the Venus/Neptune spectrum so well that we’re getting a prolonged look at her. HBO has adapted the source novel into a five-part mini-series that premiered Sunday — on Venus’ first day in Pisces.

Astrology in the News: Elizabeth Taylor and Venus in Transition

Yesterday, March 23, brought the death of screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor, a voluptuous, violet-eyed, stunningly beautiful Pisces who embodied Venus in the flesh. She carried our culture’s projection of beauty so well and so naturally that her iconic status has endured for more than 60 years, even as her curves filled out and her dark locks gave way to white wisps.

The transits to her birth chart indicate that this stage of her mission is complete. Pluto, lord of the underworld and metamorphosis, is in a waning opportunity aspect to her Sun/Mercury conjunction, which embodies her artistry, the otherworldly quality of her being and the message that she came her to convey. Chiron, with his abiding wound and challenge to master the physical, is moving off her Mars, which rules her use of her body and energy — a conjunction that brought the healing of release from the body. Mars is approaching her north node, her path of destiny and her relationship to the public, a signal that it’s time to get moving. She’s in no danger of fading quietly or quickly. Jupiter is moving toward her natal Venus, a contact that will fan her flame and keep it burning.

The archetype of Venus is ready for a new earthly phase as well. We are collectively saying goodbye to one ideal of the feminine. The current position of Venus shows a completion and ending. Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, is closing in on her conjunction Saturday with Neptune, ruler of glamor, illusion, artistry and film. Their date will occur at the doorway of Pisces, where all boundaries dissolve — between fantasy and reality, between hearts, between body and spirit. On the day of Taylor’s death, Venus had reached a highly charged bridge between the physical and spiritual: 26 Aquarius, where Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron met in May 2009. The trio made an exact growth aspect to Uranus in Pisces then, linking body and spirit and changing the way in which we navigate this world. Those four bodies remained close to that degree as they danced in formation all that year. The spot that they electrified for change, though, was 26 Aquarius. Venus moved there yesterday and hit the trip wire, opening her archetype and her earthly vessel to change.

Other human goddesses are likely to depart this week, as Venus perfects her conjunction to Neptune and enters Pisces, the sign of ultimate sacrifice. And as for the new form of archetype to come, odds are she will carry more Aries and Mars energy, gearing her to function quite well on her own, thank you very much, instead of Taylor’s sorrow-tinged mix of ethereal beauty and inability to find lasting love.

Astrology in the News: NPR & the Moon

In the buildup to this weekend’s Virgo full moon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund National Public Radio. Talk about a reboot of our relationship to our information sources and flow! That’s part of the current Gemini/Sagittarius eclipse cycle, and no surprise that the skies are currently activating the lunar eclipse that launched the cycle last December.

The nodes of the moon are within a degree of that eclipse. The Sun is pressing on that point in an action-demanding square, while the Moon will soon be applying the same pressure from the other end. They’re conducting the first stress test of this eclipse axis and voila! This vote.

Every element of this event had a counterpart in the sky. The north node, representing our collective experience, is in the sign of Sagittarius, which rules law, philosophical and political beliefs, propaganda and the media; the south node, embodying old behaviors, is in Gemini, the sign of communication and things that move through the air (sound and radio waves, say). There’s the framework for the issue, as well as the national radio network and its 100 million or so listeners, not to mention politicking, partisanship and legislation.

The impetus for the vote is up there, too. A video with questions about its credibility and accusations of manipulated editing (capturing NPR’s now ex-CEO saying she didn’t want federal funding) — that’s spin doctor Neptune in an easy flow to the nodes of the moon, and in growth aspect to the Sun. Who’s to say what she really said; the glamor of that sound byte was enough for the podium, the cameras and a party-line vote split. The escalation to emergency status and lightning strike timing? Uranus conjunct the Sun and adding his own wild-card, out-of-sign pressure on the nodes and the eclipse point.

Will the vote hold? It doesn’t have the support of the White House and much of the Senate. Nor do the skies lend it much staying power. For one thing, the pressure building up among the Sun, the nodes and, soon, the Moon is all in mutable signs — signs that go this way and that exploring all manner of options.

More importantly — most importantly — the vote took place when the Moon was void of course. This is a condition that occurs when the Moon has made her last major aspect before leaving a sign, and it almost guarantees that nothing will come of anything that’s put in place during the void. It’s worth noting that the Moon’s last aspect before this vote was an opposition to Neptune, the cosmic smoke machine. The vote took place under a veil of illusion, whether that was due to misinformation, obfuscation or, perish forfend, lies and deception. Very likely the real reason for vote was not the stated ones, but more for Neptunian posturing and creating an appearance.

Still, this vote is important. It is a shot across the bow in the information skirmishes that will increasingly characterize the Gemini/Sagittarius eclipses we’re undergoing through May 2013.

As I wrote in my article about that eclipse: “We are coming to the logical — and in many cases illogical — extremes of all aspects of life ruled by the Gemini/Sagittarius axis — our information flow and belief systems. our electronic networks and use/reliance on technology, our attitudes about our communities and the people we see as foreigners, our approaches to learning and credentials, our relationship to the media and the credence we do or do not give it. Over the long haul of the eclipse cycle expect to see milestone developments in political parties and agitprop, … the role of social media, broadcasting (shifting away from the decades-long TV and radio model), … and issues involving the superficiality, depth, truthfulness or reliability of information sources.”

In the course of a day, it suddenly became possible to envision a world without the news, cultural and entertainment programming NPR has been delivering for decades. If this matters to you … wake up.

Virgo Full Moon: The Paradox of Boundaries

Saturday, March 19, 2011
2:10 PM EDT / 6:10 PM GDT
28 Virgo 47 / 28 Pisces 47

For more of my analysis of the full moon, read my forecast for the week of March 14-21.

This month’s full moon in Virgo wraps up the last seven years — and the last couple of weeks. The inquiry it raises is paradoxical: How healthy and intact are your personal boundaries and behaviors? And aren’t political borders irrelevant?

Separation vs. interconnectedness, both personally and collectively, is the defining theme of this full moon. The Moon in Virgo is in the camp of separation, while the Sun in Pisces is holding down the interconnectedness end of the equation.

We’ve had lots of recent immersion in the Piscean end of this polarity. The seven-year phase that this full moon is wrapping up is Uranus’ time in the sign of Pisces, which escalated dramatically and unforgettably in the last couple of weeks as Uranus inched through the final degree of that sign and the zodiac.

This full moon is a recap of both time periods. We’ll be seeing what we learned during both, and what needs improvement. The one getting the greater attention is Uranus’ visit to the last degree of Pisces, when our collective attention riveted on shocking, headline-grabbing rantings by a celebrity I will no longer name, political maneuvers that demanded sacrifice from workers, and the physical devastation of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan and throughout the Pacific.

This is the degree where Piscean proclivities come completely unmoored from the solid ground of mundane, daily life. Boundaries dissolve here between artistry and insanity, between faith and deceit, between compassion and martyrdom — hence the traditional meaning of this as the degree of ultimate sacrifice and sorrow.

The Sun is pressing on that very degree and bringing home the personal meaning of it and the events it engendered — the meltdowns, the breakups, the departures, the walls of water, metaphoric and real. The Moon is escalating our processing and understanding of those events, perhaps through repercussions rippling out in time and space that cause us to both analyze and emotionally react.

What have we learned? Some answers you can foresee. Others are going to be surprises.

Uranus is a direct participant in this full moon, in an out of sign conjunction with the Sun and opposition to the Moon. More startling developments are in store, more shocking ramifications and late-hour fractures, more hair-pin changes of mind and heart. If you are still in a situation that is not healthy for you, liberation is at hand, either by your choice or by circumstances pushing you out. The jail break could involve a habit, routine behavior (including your work duties and the usual flow of your daily schedule) or a dynamic of taking on other people’s problems, minding other people’s business or hurting yourself for someone else’s benefit.

You’re not going to proceed as you would have seven years ago — maybe not even seven weeks ago. Neptune, ruler of Pisces and the Sun, is in a growth aspect to the Sun and a choice aspect to the Moon. Your emotional response is not the victim of your past and programming. You have the choice to respond with your heart, in its current state. The choice you make will reflect the person you have evolved into being; it will suit the personality that you now have.

The unlocking will come in an instant. It’ll be like someone’s flipped a switch and you simply change your attitude, or news comes that requires you to make the change. You’ll either jump on board enthusiastically, or you’ll fight it with a vengeance. Indifference is not an option. That’s because the Moon’s ruler, Mercury, is expressing the passion of Aries, from its go-getting impulsiveness to its combativeness and fury — all of which is being fanned by his current traveling companion Jupiter.

There’s a strong sense of destiny and life-defining moments in this full moon. The Sun and the Moon are squaring the Moon’s nodes and forming a mutable grand cross. A grand cross consists of two oppositions with the endpoints of each axis squaring each other — or, in simpler terms, a combination of hard, demanding aspects that splay impulses in four directions. It’s hard to move forward when you’re being pulled this way and that. In this instance, the signs involved are the most malleable and give way the easiest.

On an individual level, the Moon’s nodes involve your life path, contact with the public and the behaviors you are evolving toward (the North Node) and your instinctive behaviors that you came in with and are gradually shedding (the South Node). The tension of the grand cross could cause some back and forth on choices, particularly in the department of habits and behaviors. Still, the pressure of this configuration will lead, eventually, to the choices and path of your future.

On a broader level, the Moon’s nodes reflect a collective experience, here involving beliefs, doctrines, ideologies, the media and information channels. Do we understand how connected life is on this planet? Do we have compassion for other people and nations as fellow humans or do we see them as different and judge them? Virgo does zero in on where improvement is needed, and these questions will get her cosmic laser pointer out and tapping.

More will come to light, too, about or arising from the political fracases of Uranus’ last days in Pisces, and the conversation is not going to be polite or neutral, with Mercury conjunct Jupiter in Aries. Protests will be angry to an extreme, and the militaristic nature of the counter-assault will challenge our beliefs about how our country operates. We’ll also see and experience more fallout from the earthquake in Japan, the tsunamis, and the nuclear reactor meltdowns. Because of Mercury/Jupiter in Aries again, hot particles could well be literally flying through the air.

Speculation has been abounding about this Full Moon’s potential to wreck more physical havoc on the planet. This Full Moon is being termed a super-moon, because it will be at perigee, when its orbit comes the closest to the earth, as well as at syzygy, when it lines up with the Sun and the earth. This proximity and alignment is believed by some to interfere with the earth’s electromagnetic field and cause tectonic plate shifts. Whether this is possible — I don’t have the scientific expertise to pass on it — the fact that the Full Moon is activating the last degree of Pisces would in itself be enough to trigger another round of physical jolts, shocks, quakes and tsunamis, and the Aries component could set off volcanic eruptions, wildfires and radioactive issues.

No freaking out, please. This level of structural revolution could just as easily — or also — happen on a symbolic level, or the level of thought. The recent events of planetary devastation could unroll into a cacophony of cosmic alarm clocks going off. The same could unspool from the events you have personally experienced in your life. That is the goal to seek actively under this Full Moon. Chewing over possible tomorrows, gnawing on “what ifs” and worrying over doomsday scenarios will not get you anywhere positive. None of that is healthy. Which brings us back to the ultimate message of this full moon: Choose what is healthy for you, and remember: you are not alone.

“Dearly beloved, heed theeth wordth of withdom: Worrying ith praying for what you don’t want.” — Godpig

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It’s Heeeeeeeere! Uranus at 0 Aries

BLAST OFF! Uranus has moved off the last degree of Pisces and into Aries at last. The cosmic awakener and wild card has changed mode of expression, going from the boundary-less interconnectedness of all being to absolute individuation.

In the hours before this extreme shift, astrological metaphor turned into horrible physical reality: the monstrous earthquake in Japan and nearly a dozen powerful other ones, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions throughout the Pacific. The environmental devastation was a Uranian message for the memory books: In the face of nature, geopolitical borders are irrelevant. We are all inhabitants of one fragile planet, and what happens in one part of it sends actual shockwaves into the other parts.

While the world is reeling from the convulsions of land and sea, Uranus has moved his electrifying, revolutionizing influences to the beginning of the zodiac. Spring doesn’t officially start till Sunday, March 20 — but with the level of energy that Uranus is unleashing, the calendar is a technicality.

Uranus is channeling the most raw, primal and explosive degree of life force. Unpredictability meets fast-acting impulses. Like a flame spreading from match to kindling to logs. Or a string of fire crackers detonating. Or one volcano erupting and the force setting off another, then another, then another. Or uprisings in one city inspiring revolts across state lines, across national borders, across continents and oceans.

Everyone’s feeling the urges — the power surges — and everyone’s ready to GET GOING ALREADY!

Pisces are blissfully free of nervous anxiety, now that the live wire has been taken out of the bathtub of their life. (Underestimate Fish at your own risk; though; they’ve got backbone these days, not to mention firepower.) Aquarians are breathing easily, too, hope-hope-hoping that the financial roller coaster has really entered the station and let them disembark. Capricorns have calmed down in general, stopped worrying so much about their siblings and started to stir it up at home.

Sagittarius has lost the drive to rearrange the furniture and declared a truce with the family. He’s cracking jokes again and — what’s this? — feeling long-slumbering sensations of attraction coming back. Scorpio has loosened up about kids and creativity and, heaven forbid, enjoying life, and suddenly has sooooo much more energy at his disposal. Libra has stopped rewriting his job description and routine every few months, put aside all those experiments and about-faces on food and exercise and habits, and is feeling the urge to have a real face-to-face relationship, instead of just singing show tunes about it.

Virgo is settling down on the relationship issue and ready to take big risks in intimacy. Leo has stabilized his investments of time, money and emotions and given up on trusting the wrong people. And, oh, the places he wants to visit now… Cancer has attained — well, not quite nirvana, but a more enlightened understanding of how the world works — and is ready to kick career butt.

Gemini’s career path, on the other hand, is no longer such a maze of rabbit trails (but oh, the adventure that’s coming with revisions in that bucket list). Taurus, never big on change in the first place, has weathered more than enough disruption in friendships, group memberships and dreams for one lifetime, thank you very much. So why is it he feels so good right now? Happy. Energized. Motivated. Optimistic.

And Aries? Stay out of Aries’ way. His battery’s been recharged, and it’s long-life. Aries is hollering “Yeeeeeehaw!” and hitting the gas on its vehicle of choice (Ferrari? steamroller?)

Thus begins the next seven years … and the next 84 for humanity.

Here’s one theme song for Uranus’ stay in Aries: Freedom Calling by Phil Ochs. We’ll be singing this louder and louder as Uranus and Pluto, the two cosmic change agents, square off seven times from 2012-2015. For now, enjoy the freedom of movement. Exhilarating, isn’t it?

The Final Tsunami of Uranus at 29 Pisces

In my weekly weather for last week, I wrote of Uranus at 29 Pisces: “Developments in one part of the universe — in one person’s life, in a community, in a state or a country — ripple out and influence other parts of the universe — another country, another state, another community, other individual lives, even a complete stranger’s life.”

Uranus’ last hours in Pisces have brought a violent and terrifying playing out of the ripple effect: a 8.9-scale earthquake that hit Japan and is sending shockwaves throughout the Pacific Ocean. Take a look at CNN and NOAA’s map projecting the path and timing of the shocks.

As above, so below. As within, so without. I am you and you are me. What happens to me happens to you; what happens to you happens to me.