As I write these words, temperatures are nearing record highs all across the US. So it seems fitting that Steven's newsletter this month takes the sun as its subject. Have you ever heard of Solar Maximum? If not, you're not alone. It just so happens that right now we're in the middle of the peak of the solar cycle - called solar maximum. Below, Steven shares some thoughts on this. And to bring you up to speed, we're also including his chapter on sunspot cycles from The Night Speaks. We'll be re-releasing this beloved little book in ebook format soon. Meanwhile, enjoy the teaser.
If you're signed up to receive new product releases, last month you received notice of two new programs we're proud of: Saturn in Scorpio Through the 12 Houses, and the official Introduction to Evolutionary Astrology series. You'll find more detailed information about these new teachings below.
by Steven Forrest
Contemplating the astrological weather for the month of June, three “warm fronts” capture my attention. They all promise rain, at least in the symbolic sense. First, Neptune makes its station in Pisces on June 6th. Planets making stations are always at their strongest. Second, Jupiter enters Cancer toward the end of the month—on the 26th. Third, Mercury and Venus pave the way for Jupiter’s Cancer ingress, with Mercury arriving in that sign on May 31 and Venus following on June 3rd. So we will have a lot of Cancer steam in the air for the entire month, and it will be getting an assist from Neptune.
Throw in Saturn’s continuing passage through Scorpio, and that’s a lot of Water energy!
The four Elements—Fire, Earth, Air and Water—lie at the foundation of all astrological thought. And they each mean pretty much what anyone would think they mean, provide that person didn’t make straight F’s in poetry. In plain English, Fire is “fiery, Earth is “earthy,” Air is “airy,” and Water—well, let’s think about it! In fact, we will all automatically be doing a lot of thinking about Water over the next few weeks…although “thinking” is probably not the best word to use.
I’m writing you from the always beautiful Pacific NW, which is in the peak of Spring, abundant with green, awash in flowers, the air scented with lilacs. And lots of sun! Almost paradise… But kind of like the neighborhood I live in, it’s complicated to take in the beauty and be fully present to it with all of the simultaneous complexity going on in the world. The Uranus+Pluto square is still in full swing, and we’ll continue to get reminders of that until the orb between these two intense planetary bodies starts to widen.
I’d like to share a blog-style entry with you this time, rather than a cohesive work of writing, as a way to facilitate the beginning of a healing process. Take these words as food for further thought. Follow the trails that interest you. And let the rest go.
I’ve been working on a long piece about the Uranus+Pluto square, which also has me thinking about the recent bombings in Boston. As we start to integrate and process what happened there on April 15, we’re left with the aftermath of an experience that is more common in other parts of the world, but that we rarely experience first-hand in the US. The meaningless loss of life is overwhelming, and the permanent physical hardships that many of those affected will have to face are hard to imagine. But if we take that in, we can also take in the amount of pain and terror experienced more regularly in events like these in other parts of the world.
by Steven Forrest
When I was a kid getting interested in astrology, I quickly learned that the Ascendant was a big piece of the puzzle. But what did it mean? The more I read, the more I heard astrologers rolling the drums and blowing the trumpets for it . . . but I still didn’t get it. The Ascendant is “your identity.” It is “your ego.” It is superficial; it is more important than your Sun Sign. The more I read, the more confused I became.
I decided I needed to figure it out for myself. I began by thinking about it physically. The Ascendant is the sign that was rising in the east when you were born. It was “dawning,” just like the Sun dawns in the morning. And it then came to me in a flash: the Ascendant represents how you “dawn on people.” It is your style, your affect, the way you present yourself to the social world.
Pretty soon I found myself in my early thirties and under contract to write a book about the astrological basics for Bantam Books. It eventually became The Inner Sky, after passing perilously close to being given the corporate name “Astrology 101.” But that is another story! In writing The Inner Sky I spoke of the Ascendant as “The Mask.” I drew the term from Jungian psychology, where Carl Jung described our social personality as the persona, which is the Greek word for mask. Then as now, I prefer plain English, so I stuck with the simple word mask.
by Tony Howard
As I write this, we've already been fully initiated into the current Mercury retrograde cycle, which began on February 23, 2013. And something tells me you've noticed this one, even if you weren't forewarned.
That's because this Mercury retrograde cycle has an especially discombobulated quality since it's taking place in the sign of dreamy, subjective Pisces. When adrift in the sea of Pisces, Mercury isn't transmitting from its clearest channel. This isn't to say that Mercury in Pisces is "bad." Every planet/sign combination has a divine reason and place. But some combinations are certainly less complicated than others. In Pisces, Mercury is swimming through uncomfortably murky waters , and those cute little wings on his feet and hat get a bit soggy. Mercury likes the kind of knowing that results from a clear train of thought. Pisces represents the subjective knowing that we might get from dreams or or non-linear experience. So already, retrograde or not, in Pisces, Mercury 's usual speedy disposition and sharp cognitive process is altered. Add the retrograde piece and poor Mercury appears to have fallen down the rabbit hole.
And as usual, that's not the end of the story, because the sky is always more complex... From the end of February throughout most of March, we're all awash in a sea of Piscean energy, with the Sun also in Pisces (since February 18), Mars in Pisces (through March 11), and Neptune in Pisces. And Venus would never be left out of the party by choice. She dives into Pisces during the wee hours of February 25th, giving us 5 planets in Pisces at once!
by Steven Forrest
Saturn is the planet that helps us grow up. Failing that, it just helps us get old. Neptune is our guide when it comes to the most bedrock issue of all—what we take with us out of this world, and that boils down to consciousness itself. “Wisdom” might be a good word for it, although that has nothing to do with passing any posthumous “multiple choice tests.” Neptune is that depth you see in some people’s eyes. Saturn is the quality of maturity. Both of them are constantly moving around everyone’s chart, stepping into the spotlight and back out of it. We grow with them in pulses.
For everyone, Neptune is extra-powerful lately. It’s in Pisces, the sign it rules, and it will be there for another dozen years. That’s universal, affecting everybody. But Neptune affects each person in a unique way depending on where it falls in his or her individual chart. That kind of astrological thinking quickly gets complicated, but one of its most critical elements is simply knowing the HOUSE of the chart through which Neptune is currently passing. There’s the key to your best spiritual practice. I use “spiritual practice” here as a huge term embracing many possibilities, from meditating in a Tibetan cave through random acts of charity in the funky streets of the world. What practice is most effective for you? Which one generates wisdom most effectively and quickly? The House through which Neptune is currently traveling casts a bright light on that question.
by Steven Forrest
Bono and the boys sang, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day” and that’s usually about right. There is nothing astrologically significant about the first day of January. Calling January 1st “the beginning of the year” is a Roman invention without any real basis in any natural cycle. The only astrological argument for it is that the date lies close to the northern Winter Solstice, which falls at the end of the third week of December. That Solstice—the longest night of the year—could naturally be a candidate for a true nature-based New Year’s since it marks the beginning of the return of the light. But the day we celebrate is off by ten days, and there are other equally compelling calendrical possibilities.
Of course if you are an Australian, even that is all backwards. For the Aussies, that bright summer day in December marks the outset of a descent into darkness, and who would want to celebrate that day as a new beginning?
Astrologers generally view Aries as the first sign of the zodiac, and so timing the year’s start to coincide with the Vernal Equinox would make good organic sense—but again, all that is reversed in the southern hemisphere. And who needs another lost cause anyway? Just try to get people to celebrate the New Year on March 21st. Astrologers have tried to get the world to call that day “International Astrology Day.” And . . . well, it’s not exactly on postage stamps yet. (By the way, one of my Mexican friends lamented that US astrologers chose March 21 for International Astrology Day when the entire post-Catholic world already celebrates astrologers in the form of the Three Wise Men on January 6th, which would have been a choice that already had a big head start.)