by Tony Howard
The Saturn-Neptune cycle is fairly common - we experience a major aspect between the two planets (Conjunction, Square or Opposition) every 9 years. But that frequency doesn’t diminish its important role. Metaphorically, interactions between Saturn and Neptune can express on the high end as “sobering up.” And with Neptune currently in Pisces, we could probably use regular reminders to come back into balance. Because one shadow side of Neptune in Pisces is a weakness for succumbing to the pull to binge on things that give us the feeling of escape. And that doesn’t just apply to the usual suspects, like alcohol, drugs (legal or otherwise), or food. Binge-watching TV shows became prevalent as Neptune entered Pisces, with online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu making it easier than ever to sit on the couch for hours at a stretch. We no longer talk about this week’s episode of a show over the water cooler, we talk about the entire season we watched over the weekend. Andy Samberg's pre-filmed skit for the 2015 Emmy Awards offers a hilarious take on this.
With the closing Saturn square coming up this November (list of dates for the exact squares below), this is a good time to wake up and smell the coffee. Saturn brings the energies of discipline and judgment to balance Neptune’s imaginary and escapist leanings. The square suggests the dance isn’t a comfortable one. We may find ourselves in tense moments in which our escapism is brought to our awareness in the harsh light of day. If so, our challenge is to accept this new insight, and take responsibility for the actions that brought us to this place, and start taking steps to change our behavior.
If you want to get a jump on the process, this is a good time to pay attention to your own escapist tendencies. What do you use to tune out after a stressful day? What is your go-to binge-worthy substance or activity? Would the amount you partake in seem excessive to someone else? Do you find yourself justifying the habit? If you can get some awareness around these issues and start to take steps to change the pattern, you might be able to limit your exposure to more difficult situations in which it seems like this process is forced upon you. One key is to find healthier ways to manage stress and negative emotions.
by Steven Forrest
If you have been watching the evening sky this year, you’ve witnessed a lovely minuet of bright-eyed Venus and much dimmer Mars. They’ve pulled apart since their spectacular conjunction last February, but they are now racing back toward one another’s arms. Their final embrace will happen on November 2, in just about exactly 24°Virgo. Over the next four weeks, on their way to that happy rendezvous, the two planets first do a line-dance with Neptune and then a sexy slow dance with Jupiter—two events in the heavens whose fingertips we will all feel in our intimate lives.
Most of my language here in this newsletter will reflect the classic Mars-Venus terrain of intimacy in a “partnering” sense of the word. But really, these configurations have broader meaning, affecting all of our various relationships. With just a little translation, all that we explore here is relevant to those kinds of connections too. Even if you are single, there are people you love. You also probably think about relationship—and these planetary patterns will underlie your thoughts and meditations.
by Tony Howard
In planetary transit news this month, Venus goes direct, Mercury goes retrograde, and Saturn settles into Sagittarius. That's a lot of shifting energy, perhaps fitting for the "back to school" season.
Mercury stations retrograde September 17 at 15° Libra, and then stations direct October 9 at 0° Libra. With Mercury retrograde in Libra this time, communications are highlighted. We may not see quite as many of the typical computer mishaps usually attributed to Mercury retrograde, but stay on your toes when engaging in sensitive conversations with others. Prepare for unwanted misunderstandings by cultivating more patience than usual. Libra wants us to find an equal sense of give and take in the dialogue. So make sure you listen well in addition to clearly asking for what you need.
by Steven Forrest
In pop astrology, Jupiter is celebrated as the lucky planet. So if you are a Virgo, lucky you! Jupiter enters Virgo on August 11. And all you Leos better drink up because your year of glory is drawing to a close. Jupiter’s sweep through Virgo will run for about thirteen months, finally bringing sunshine to all the world’s Librans starting on September 9, 2016.
We will have deeper things to say, fear not! But for a moment, let’s contemplate the phenomenon of plain dumb luck. Who knows what that wild card signifies in the larger scheme of the universe? Is it random—as simple as saying “every dog has his day?” Is it good karma coming home to roost? That’s my own guess—I’ve never had much faith in the “random universe” model. But whatever dumb luck’s origins may be, it’s a real phenomenon. We all recognize it when we see it. And when it raises its lovely head in your life, there’s a good chance that Jupiter has stepped into the spotlight of your chart.
So all you Virgos, good news: there is an excellent chance your stock is going to go up between now and September of next year. And think about it: couldn’t you use a victory about now? There’s our doorway into some deeper territory. Jupiter isn’t just about dumb luck. In common with all the transits of all the planets, it represents an evolutionary opportunity—more accurately, an evolutionary necessity whose moment has ripened.
by Tony Howard
Since Venus stations retrograde later this month, I planned to write about it in this newsletter, but I can’t resist talking about the memorable events of last week instead. For some interesting Venus retrograde insights, check out Nick Dagan Best’s excellent video download. Venus is still on my agenda though - via the current Venus-Jupiter conjunction that is gracing us with positive vibes and opportunities for growth. What makes this cycle so special though, is that Venus and Jupiter are also parallel by declination, making this the strongest kind of conjunction. To top it off, they are both in shiny, solar Leo while in a fire trine with Uranus in Aries. This combination holds the potential for sudden liberation, genius creative innovation, breaking free of constraints, unleashing creativity and growth, and unblocking restrictions to fairness, justice and equality. And that’s just for starters.
Reflecting the high potential of this transit, the Supreme Court announcement on the morning of June 26 legalizing gay marriage came at a time when we really needed some good news. Just a week before, a tragic shooting took the lives of several innocent people in a Charleston church on the evening of June 17, at 9:05pm. The shooting occurred with Mars out of bounds and the Moon in Cancer opposite Pluto in Capricorn, a few days before Venus moved closely into the conjunction with Jupiter. In that moment, Pluto gave us a view into the dark undercurrent of racial hatred in our country, hitting “home” with an event that echoed back to 1963 and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing - and the reminder that we still have more work to do on this issue. Our prayers go out to all of the families hurt by that horrible event.
The trine between Jupiter and Uranus in the chart for the shooting reminds us that we’re all capable of expressing the shadow potential of any transit, even under so-called “positive” aspects. A trine can feel like a green light to take action, whether good or bad. This trine between Uranus in Aries and Jupiter in Leo was expressed in the outlaw hubris of the shooter, whose disturbing image posing with the Confederate flag quickly circulated around the internet. Thankfully, that photo could end up doing a lot of good in the end, for it brought long-standing grievances about the Confederate flag into public discourse, with South Carolina governor Nikki Haley calling for its removal from the State House building.
by Steven Forrest
Transiting Pluto is sitting right smack on my Sun. The “god of hell,” right up my nose. And yet, despite all doomsayers, I am still alive. When I was a young astrologer, I might have seen that transit coming and bet anyone five dollars that it would kill me. That was my training. I would have lost five dollars too.
Funny how fear gets in one’s blood as we learn astrology. There’s so much of it out there. Many of my private clients come to me knowing a little bit of about the planets—enough to be dangerous. I mention an upcoming transit of Pluto or Saturn in their charts and they grow pale, as if it’s some kind of death sentence. As most of you know, I constantly preach against that kind of astrology. Am I immune to the fear? I’ve got a student who adds a cool little colophon to her emails—“Start listening to your own lectures.” That’s a good reminder . . . for me, as much as for the rest of us.
Not to be Pollyanna here. Transits of Pluto can definitely bring us face to face with real darkness. They often offer us a chance to face our deepest fears—although “a chance” makes it sound too much like an option we might “choose not exercise.” The reality is that Plutonian times very often do correlate with the things we most fear standing right there before us, complete with sulfurous breath and fire coming out of their noses. Ask any experienced astrologer and you’ll get the same response: in Plutonian times, there is a real pattern of people being confronted with death, disease, betrayal, divorce, or grievous loss.
But then there are the people who “get lucky,” and nothing of that unpleasant nature happens. They seem to have “dodged the bullet.” What can we make of that phenomenon? Is astrology imperfect? I actually doubt that—but astrologers themselves are a different story. We are all imperfect. And the task of each generation of astrologers is to become less imperfect, to let reality speak to us through the fog of error in our books and traditions.
by Tony Howard
Are you ready for another Mercury retrograde cycle? We almost never are, are we? Since Mercury will retrograde in Gemini this time - its own sign - it’s likely we’ll see more of the stereotypical manifestations of this cycle. To get in the flow, you’ll probably need to slow down in general, but especially in regards to Gemini-ruled topics, like communication, speaking, writing, teaching, and learning.
My approach to a smooth Mercury retrograde period is to soften my will. Frustration only arises if I’m too invested in doing something at my usual lightning pace (I have natal Mercury conjunct Uranus). If I allow myself to slip into ultra-patient mode, I usually find that Mercury retrograde is pleasant. It’s one of the only times I give myself permission to slow down, let things go undone until they get done, and allow life to unfold as it will without pushing too much. Hey, I should probably adopt a Mercury retrograde attitude all the time! Luckily, Mercury retrograde happens 3 times a year, so we get 3 chances to get it right. (Did I really just say “luckily”?!)
If you have planets in early-to-mid Gemini, Sagittarius, Virgo or Pisces, you’re likely to notice this Mercury Rx cycle more than usual. Also pay close attention to planets in those signs near 4° or 13°, the degrees of Mercury’s stations.