Sagittarius Full Moon: Wise Pilgrim


I’ve been ignoring current events to the best of my ability for some time now, but the occasional atrocity slips past the goalie. I heard about what happened in Orlando and Oaklanda, nd the brutal murder of Jo Cox, a member of Parliament; I’m aware that Britain is deciding whether to leave the EU, and I’ve gotten the memo that the US Presidential race is just about as awful as one could imagine.

It’s all too big and too terrible, and when we try to swallow each day’s events in one tremendous social media gulp—the killings, the politics, the hatred, the news of friends variously losing parents and pets and jobs and health—we naturally choke on it.

The June 20 Full Moon is in Sagittarius, and while Saturn has been traveling through the Archer’s territory it’s been a challenge for me to locate Sagittarius’ wisdom, native optimism, and zest for adventure. It’s even hard to welcome joyous summer when you suspect that every beach has cut glass and scorpions lurking inside the sandcastles or snipers with military assault weapons hiding in the lifeguard tower. (more…)

Sagittarius Full Moon: Improve the Silence

With Sagittarius rising in my birthchart, Mercury opposed Jupiter, and lots of planets in the 9th house, you could be forgiven for thinking I’m a born centaur. This is especially true on the occasions when I jump on my high horse (so to speak) and start delivering sermons like a self-styled Joan of Arc.

I’m most apt to get Sadgey when I sense someone else is being bullied or treated unfairly. It doesn’t have to be someone I particularly like, either. Mostly, I can justify those rants. But for every situation that really demands stark truth-telling, there’s one that calls for a little more restraint and judgment. At those moments, this piece of advice, attributed to Indian spiritual master Sai Baba, can be helpful:

Before you speak, ask yourself:  Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve upon the silence?

Oh, self-righteousness can feel so good. Setting someone straight. Telling it like it is. Few things offer the delicious jolt of freedom, of agency, of utter indifference to consequence that comes with letting fly a self-righteous screed.

But even if what you say is true, and even if you can argue for its necessity, that kind of truth-telling is never kind and almost never improves upon the silence.

I’ve heard variations of the Sai Baba quotation many times over the years. The last part, the bit about improving upon the silence, is often left out. And that’s a shame… because when you begin to feel the thundering hooves of your inner Sagittarius begin to gallop, you’re not likely to care much whether something is kind or necessary, though you will certainly have convinced yourself that it’s true.

However, improving upon the silence is a concept that might actually curb Sagittarius’ tendency toward blurty truth-telling. This is because no sign worships as devoutly as Sagittarius in the cathedral of natural beauty. Towering mountains, mysterious sandstone arches, achingly beautiful forests… these are deeply moving to Sagittarius, particularly their magical silence.

The next time you feel the itch to really let loose and try to convince someone that you’re by-God right about something, try for a moment to close your eyes and pretend you’re in some beautiful natural spot that’s sacred to you. Put yourself in the silence. Wait awhile. You may find, to your surprise, that the real truth that needs to be told is a little different than you’d imagined. Sometimes, it’s not a truth about someone else at all, but rather about yourself— something you’re a little ashamed of, embarrassed by, and have been only dimly aware of. Let the silence stretch on, holding your truth gently aloft. Could your words improve this moment, this silence?

There are words, of course, that greatly improve the silence. Like Martin Luther King declaring in huge, thrilling tones that “the greatness of America is the right to protest for right,” and “I have been to the mountaintop,” and “I have a dream.” Or Bob Dylan’s keening wail: “How does it feel to be on your own, like a complete unknown, with no direction home.” Or John Kennedy’s famous, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Oh, friends, rhetoric and poetry can improve exquisitely upon silence; let’s not lose their lyrical power, which tells important truths so much more convincingly than mere hollering. Truth shouldn’t be something we use to shame one another, but rather a way of revealing us more completely so that we can better love one another.

This is a hard Full Moon conjunct Mars retrograde in Sagittarius. So, tell your hard, inconvenient truths. But the Full Moon point is also square Neptune in Pisces, so remember to put some love behind them, too—the love that says, “I think you’re completely wrong about what you believe, and you do stuff that makes me really, really, angry, but dammit, you’re my brother and I love your humanity!” And when you’re looking around you to total up the hypocrisies and dishonesties that need to be called out, remember, as Mercury and Mars are still retrograde, to look inside yourself, first, for frailties. Then, if you find you still have something to say that’s big and truthful and heart-opening, open up your throat and sing out loud and strong, with love and without judgment. Make your truth as beautiful as you can. Improve the silence.

Scorpio Full Moon: Be a Beautiful Godzilla


“The only way the gods know we’re asking for help is ritual.” – Caroline Casey

Taurus and Scorpio are the two signs of the zodiac that are most closely associated with money. So if your finances are strained or life just isn’t giving you enough of what you want, the Scorpio Full Moon is the perfect time for a prosperity adjustment.

The prosperity dance involves persuading others that you have something that is so valuable, they should give you whatever you ask in order to get it. Sometimes, this exchange flows effortlessly; other times, it’s as though there is an actual, physical obstruction between you and prosperity. That’s when you find yourself feeling broke – or at least, you don’t have enough money to do something that’s really important to you (like pay rent, for instance).

Does it follow that if others are not offering to pay you for what you have, it isn’t valuable? I don’t think so. But I have noticed that simply being a nice person and good at what you do isn’t enough. Those who are wildly successful have some quality of attraction or seduction that makes others want to work with them/buy from them/be near them.

Seduction relies on a kind of subliminal, mesmerizing persuasiveness. It’s characterized by the ability to hold others spellbound and desperate to please you. These qualities don’t come naturally to me; perhaps they’re not your gifts, either.

These are Scorpionic gifts.

But even those of us who are neither exceptionally attractive nor naturally seductive have Scorpio somewhere in our charts. And through Scorpio’s love of magic and ritual, conjuring and summoning, we can learn to seduce the invisible world into giving us more of what we want.

 “The invisible world would like to help,” writes Caroline Casey, “but spiritual etiquette requires that we ask.” Ritual is the way we ask for help from the gods, but if you’re like me, you may not feel comfortable with solemn, formal ritual filled with prescribed incantations and possibly incense. In fact, I’m going to take Casey quite literally and assume that ritual simply requires that we ask for what we want—politely, respectfully, and winningly, while putting our best qualities forward.

So before performing whatever ritual you have planned at this Scorpio Full Moon, activate your most magnetic qualities. In your birth chart, these are represented by the trine aspects between planets in your chart. (Look for triangles in the little table at the bottom of your chart.) Usually, there’s at least one. Trines describe what comes easily to you – blessings, if you will. The conventional wisdom is that too many trines lead to a lazy personality, but that a few can really grease the wheels and make life pleasant for you.


For example, one of the happiest trines in my chart is from Mercury (the writing planet) to my Ascendant (the “front door” of your chart). Not once, but three times book contracts have dropped into my lap. I don’t consider myself a terribly lucky person, but given how many talented writers can’t get a single book deal, the fact that I’ve wandered into three—literally without trying—is kind of ridiculously fortunate.

I’m reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry is dating a very beautiful woman who gets anything she asks for. George comments, “Beautiful women. You know they could get away with murder….They get whatever they want whenever they want it. You can’t stop them!” Jerry agrees: “She’s like a beautiful Godzilla!” He soon learns to parlay his girlfriend’s powerful beauty for entrance to a sold-out movie and forgiveness of a speeding ticket.

That’s how trines work. They are beautiful Godzillas. So if you have planetary trines in your birth chart, send those planets to the gods to intercede on your behalf!

If you don’t know how to find the trines in your chart, don’t worry. They’re simply astrological symbols of the qualities that earn you compliments on a regular basis. “You’re so organized,” friends might tell you. Well, organize an excellent, precise, well-thought-out ritual. “You can always make me laugh.” Make the gods laugh—include a joke as part of your ritual. “Boy, can you put together an outfit!” Greet the gods gussied up in one of your most gorgeous ensembles.

If you were going for a job interview or applying for a loan at the bank, you’d put your very best self forward. Do the same with your lunar rituals. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone in my whole life who didn’t possess some element of charm or goodness. That includes you. In fact, because I’m always inclined to think especially well of my readers, you probably have boatloads of scintillating traits!

So at this Scorpio Full Moon, put those beautiful Godzillas to work for you. They symbolize the qualities that draw others to you and prompt the universe to shower goodies on you. Make them your ambassadors of spiritual etiquette, asking for everything beautiful, valuable, and satisfying that your heart desires.

Want to learn more about the planetary aspects in your birth chart – from the blessings of the trine to the character-building squares? Register for my online Planetary Aspects class – two sessions, May 7 and 14, 2016! See this page for details.

Libra Lunar Eclipse: Go Gently


Like a lot of compulsive, driven types, I move a bit roughly through the world. Whether along my career path or on a trip to the supermarket, I focus on the destination and pay scant attention to the journey itself. Down to the smallest gestures, my approach is instinctively direct and graceless. I’m hard on the physical world, breaking, tearing, staining, or chipping nearly everything I touch.

But I have a pet indulgence – spending hours browsing through design blogs and magazines. I enjoy a glimpse into the way others live, their clean, spare, modern spaces, or (especially) their colorful, artfully cluttered bohemian dwellings. I savor small, elegant touches that appear in unexpected places, the gestures of someone who is attentive to each tiny nook and responds to it creatively. There’s something graceful about them, the suggestion that such a person pays attention to each moment instead of rushing to finish line.

I’m seeking an elegant oasis in a world that feels like a pretty rough place. If you’re the kind of person who pushes yourself hard, relying on the off-gassing of harsh self-talk to propel you, it’s especially difficult to live in a world that mirrors this pitiless inner landscape. It’s a very human instinct to meet brutality with greater force, exponentially, until before you know it presidential candidates are all but coming to physical blows on a debate stage.

This morning, though, as I prepared to swing my legs over the side of the bed and throw myself into the day, I was stopped by a tiny whisper that I can only assume was the dawning influence of the upcoming Libra Lunar Eclipse: “Go gently.” Instead of leaping to my feet and cursing my painful “morning back,” what if I stood slowly and gave a little stretch? I tried it. Good stuff.

What else might happen today if I were to go gently? What if I dressed with more pleasure, chose a nice shirt and a pair of socks without holes in them? What if I took my time making breakfast instead of rushing around as though I’m competing in an episode of Iron Chef? What if I set the glass down carefully instead of smacking it against the coffee table? What if I took the time to coax the cat from under the chair for her morning shot, instead of losing patience and grabbing her?

“Going gently” sums up Libra’s approach to the world. It appears as elegant touches in unexpected places, moving with grace, choosing the nice shirt, setting things down carefully, coaxing the cat. It’s in the little ways of approaching life with a spirit of beauty and grace, smoothness and quiet.

Libra is the sign of relating, and heaven knows the world could use more of Libra’s skill in this area, because as a species we’re treating each other pretty damn roughly. It seems some days as though we’re engaged in an ongoing contest to see who can be the most callous and rude, as though mistreating others were a badge of honor.

Lots of people my age express a longing to return to a gentler era, when folks avoided discussing sex, religion, and politics in public, and disagreed in private without demonizing one another. Let’s be clear: such a time probably didn’t really exist, except in our memories. But it certainly seems as though things were a lot more civil even throughout the crazy 60s and 70s.

On the other hand, the gentler days of yore were not so rosy if you had the bad luck of being a woman, a person of color, gay, the wrong religion, or anything else that wasn’t white, straight, and male. Moving the needle of justice even a bit in the direction of equal rights required that a whole lot of people get really angry and make a lot of noise. That’s where the Aries side of humanity really shines, in fighting for worthy causes and kicking asses that sorely need kicking.

But it’s pretty clear that things have gotten out of balance. Everyone seems angry all the time, and there’s a sense of fighting for basic survival. The titantic battle between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn has estranged us from Libra’s spirit of cooperation and gentleness. May we see a resurgence of it when Jupiter enters Libra in October.

Very soon after this morning’s epiphany about “going gently,” I had a chance to test the idea. After breakfast, I opened the door to find a campaign sign for a local city council candidate planted in our front lawn. We hadn’t given permission, hadn’t even been asked, and my instinct was to ring up the campaign headquarters and holler at someone. But then a kinder voice suggested the possibility that some good-hearted volunteer had almost certainly made a mistake. And if not, well, isn’t it nice to at least see passionate engagement in an age of civic indifference?

Living gently isn’t the same as rolling over, though. We removed the sign, left it behind a post on the front porch, and left a polite but emphatic message about what the campaign office could do with their sign (why, pick it up, of course).

This Full Moon is the last in a long series of eclipses in Aries and Libra that began in October, 2013. I’ve certainly seen some interesting developments in a lot of the relationships around me, and I imagine you have, too. And it’s not just personal relationships, but the larger societal discourse as well. It’s seemed much harder to strike a balance between fighting worthy battles and running roughshod over others. This Libra Lunar Eclipse puts a period at the end of that rather long, rambling sentence. Then, we continue working our way through the Virgo/Pisces eclipse cycle for the rest of the year, bravely navigating a path complicated by lessons of giving and service, surrender and suffering, faith and reason.

Let’s go gently.

Virgo Full Moon: To Serve Man


A classic Twilight Zone episode depicts seemingly benign aliens who have come to earth and pledged their help to mankind. Indeed, one of their seminal texts is entitled “To Serve Man.” Imagine the dismayed surprise of the humanoids who, having clasped these aliens to their bosoms, belatedly discover that the book is not a paean to intergalactic relations, as they’d imagined–but a cookbook!

It’s a clever twist on not just the word, but the concept of service, which in astrology is most often associated with Virgo. The sign of work, of diligent care on behalf of others, nevertheless has a rather nasty reputation–not entirely undeserved–for its hypercritical shadow side. Interestingly, the slang expression “you’ve been served” is a taunt that suggests you’ve been called out and shown up. And certainly, if you get on a Virgo’s bad side you may feel as though you’ve “been served”–or, in the case of those crafty aliens, as though you’re about to be served up!

But Virgo also symbolizes the very noble impulse toward usefulness. It represents the hundreds of people who impact your daily life. No matter how menial the task, another’s approach to his work can have a profound influence on the quality of your day. The barista who serves up your morning coffee can set the day’s tone with a smile and a little joke or can seemingly go out of his way to piss you off. A mechanic who’s having a bad day might forget an important step in servicing your car’s brakes–and that could influence the rest of your life.

I’ll bet it’s easier for you to think of half a dozen people who’ve recently given you poor service than it is to name even half as many who’ve offered help with a smile. Why does it seem so many people are unhappy in their work? Apart from things like sustenance wages and job insecurity, I think it’s mainly for two reasons.

First, it’s because their work doesn’t connect them to the spiritual underpinnings of their lives. The difference between pitching in to wash dishes after a charity pancake breakfast, and washing dishes at a minimum wage job, is that one feels like a contribution to society and the other usually doesn’t. No one likes to feel as though she’s wasting her life. I would argue that no task is demeaning if you’re doing it for a meaningful cause. Any task done over and over, day in and day out can get boring. But washing dishes for my family every day, while it can get dull, never feels demeaning, because it’s a contribution I’m making to my home.

But the other reason for disgruntled workers is a little more subtle. At this Virgo Full Moon, the Sun joins idealistic Neptune in Pisces. This powerful combination excites the imagination toward big dreams for a new and more inspiring world. But the Pisces approach to things has its blind spots, too. Dreaming of a beautiful world is all well and good, but someone has to be willing to roll up their sleeves and make the dreams a reality. Behind every great achievement is some diligent helper wearing sensible shoes and a headset, supervising logistics from the wings. Some good, patient Virgo-like soul with a knack for untangling messes who can get the printer to work and troubleshoot the problem with the wireless network.

Unfortunately, while every family, every workplace, and every cause needs such people, they don’t often appreciate them. All too often, the tendency is to take them for granted, to notice them only when something has gone wrong, to ignore their sensible warnings about system backups until the computer has crashed and taken with it all of our artwork. We think we can get away with it, because they are such nice people, so helpful, so patient. We splash around in the waters of creativity and big, important undertakings, secure in the knowledge that if we get in over our heads, some kindly lifeguard type will rescue us. And generally, they do. That’s how they’re built.

Until one day, they’ve had about enough. The long-suffering grade school Room Mother receives an early morning phone call from a More Important Parent with no time to bake cookies; surely Long-Suffering Room Mother can do it for her! The overworked IT guy, feverishly attending to the needs of thirty staff members and sixty temperamental machines, gets an impromptu visit from his supervisor, who needs help–urgently!–with her personal email account. The long-suffering astrologer, whose wages barely place him above the national poverty line, gets yet another epic email from someone detailing every problem in her life and insisting the astrologer read her chart for free, because hers is such a worthy and exceptional cause.

And suddenly, the Virgo volcano erupts. Like all earth signs, Virgo has a long fuse… which makes its eventual meltdowns all the more impressive and kind of scary. And because Virgo is ruled by Mercury, he or she can carve you up with an estimable blend of withering sarcasm and impressive vocabulary choices.

And then, of course, it’s Virgo– the unappreciated, overworked, underpaid gaffer on the set of everybody else’s big-budget motion picture–who is the bad guy. And if you’ve ever done a favor that went unacknowledged or picked up the slack for someone who took advantage of your kindness, that “Virgo” has been you. Is it any wonder so few of us are willing to go the extra mile to help another person?

At this Full Moon in Virgo, by all means indulge the desire to dream big, idealistic dreams. These are the visions that move us forward as a civilization. But remember that the millions of people who perform society’s less glamorous tasks, who work hard to develop valuable skills, and who patiently midwife our dreams with push-brooms, wrenches, an editing pencil, and computer code, deserve our appreciation and respect.

So, take a Virgo to lunch. Thank your kid’s teachers. And if an alien tries to coax you into a large, simmering pot of water, just say no.

© 2010/2016 April Elliott Kent

Leo Full Moon: The Gift of Boredom


The economy seems to have picked up a bit—an observation that has nothing to do with the state of my 401k and everything to do with the topics my clients want to talk about in our sessions. These days, nearly all of them mention a desire to reclaim their sense of play and creativity.

The desire for self-expression is pretty high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You have to have an awful lot going right in your life before it occurs to you to want more fun. That said, even a life that offers a roof over your head, food to eat, and safety from imminent peril can be flat, gray, and filled with despair, if there is nothing to feed your creative spirit.

Remember how wonderful it felt, as a kid, to play? After school, on weekends, and over long, languid summers, the kids I grew up with spent countless hours goofing off. We rode bikes, invented games with friends, formed garage bands, read books, swam at the community pool. Eventually you’d get bored, but if you were even modestly resourceful and imaginative there was always something new to try. I always felt that boredom was my creativity’s best friend.

A Full Moon in Leo, the sign of playful expression, naturally leads to reflections about how it feels to be completely, joyfully engaged in some kind of creative activity. In my memory, at least, my childhood self felt that way on a daily basis. As an adult, I can go days, maybe a week or more, without feeling that way, living my perfectly lovely life by rote. It’s far too easy to cook the same meals, take walks that cover the same territory, and watch too much Netflix as a substitute for creating stories of my own.

This is in marked contrast to my earlier incarnation as a musician. Each day, I devoted hours to the sheer pleasure of singing, playing guitar, and writing songs. As a result, when the time came to go onstage, I was ready and eager. I wasn’t the best singer I knew and didn’t have the most beautiful voice. But I could tell that I had the ability to touch people’s hearts when I sang—and to this Leo, that was the important part.

Leo is called the sign of creativity, but that doesn’t really tell the story. It summons visions of a child’s playroom, filled with bright plastic toys, or a crafts room with construction paper and Elmer’s glue. But Leo’s desire for creativity transcends the tools we use to summon it. Leo symbolizes pursuits that open the heart and make you feel completely alive, to the extent that you don’t even question whether you’re doing it well, just whether you’re doing it exactly as you like. That can be a challenge for adults, who have responsibilities and full schedules, and who lack a child’s luxurious surfeit of empty hours for seemingly idle pursuits.

But throwing yourself into a creative passion is worth the investment of time, because the benefits spill over into every part of your life, making everything—your job, your relationships—more distinctive and satisfying.

We all have something inside us that wants to be engaged and needs to be shared and noticed. It says, “This is what it’s like to be me. This is how I see the world.” That’s Leo’s destination, and practically any road can take us there. You may enjoy quilting, or cooking, or designing video games; you may be called to play softball, mandolin, or Lady Macbeth. You might even write essays and publish them on the internet. You’ll know the right tools for you when you find you can’t stop fiddling with them long enough to make yourself get a decent night’s sleep… when they keep you awake like a big, golden, Leo Full Moon.

I think a lot of the reason people spend hours watching TV or reading stuff on the internet instead of pursuing their passions is that they feel exhausted, and these activities require nothing from them. The thought of committing a little time to doing something fun and creative sometimes feels like one more box that needs to be checked off at the end of a long, tiring day.

So I suggest this alternative: For one week, commit yourself to one half hour of boredom each day. Put yourself in a room with the tools of your creativity and nothing else. You don’t have to create anything—but no looking at screens or making telephone calls. Who knows; like a kid with too much time on her hand during summer vacation, you might decide to relieve your boredom by picking up a pen, a paintbrush, or a guitar.

We’re all busy people. But we’re all creative spirits, too. And while it can seem daunting to carve out enough space in your life to become really proficient at a creative pastime, in the end the tools matter very little anyway. The key is to master the tools just enough that they cease to be relevant–except as the conduit for expressing your unique, individual spirit.

Cancer Full Moon: Mother Christmas


Growing up, I enjoyed Christmas as much as the next kid. I became ambivalent toward the holidays some time in my mid-20s, but it wasn’t until I got married that my indifference toward Christmas flared into genuine dislike. I found the unbridled materialism unpalatable (now that I was at an age when it no longer benefited me personally), the music irritating, and the moralistic undertones cloying. Craving an observance more peaceful, that felt more meaningful, I renounced the Christmas of my youth.

The first Christmas after I made my stand, my mother had a hard time believing I was serious. As mothers do, she wheedled, cajoled, and twisted my arm to join in the usual family reindeer games. I demurred, and she insisted, until finally one day, desperate to be understood and irritated beyond measure I finally snapped, “I don’t like the way you celebrate Christmas!” And watched, mortified, as her eyes filled with tears.

Now, my mother loved Christmas. She loved the tree, the music, the dopey Christmas specials on TV, the cookies, the wrapping, the craziness. She was an extraordinary gift-giver, paying close attention to the random comments of those she loved throughout the year and taking note of what they wanted and needed, and she gave precisely the things that would delight us most and suit us best. So when I made my nasty, hateful comment, I couldn’t have wounded my mother more had I slapped her across the face.

“Spirit!”‘ said Scrooge, “show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?’

I bungled it so badly, my wish to declare independence; and although my mother soon forgave me, I still haven’t quite forgiven myself. Yet I was motivated by natural impulses: I wished to celebrate the seasons in my own way, to carve out my own traditions. And as the youngest of four children I desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an adult.

Family Christmases tend to be difficult precisely because they amplify the natural tension between wanting to belong and to be taken care of (Cancer) and the desire to be taken seriously as the captain of your own ship (Capricorn). It’s tempting, when you’re first coming of age, to feel this is a zero sum game and that you can’t be your own person as long as you’re also someone’s child. And so you make foolish, hurtful mistakes, as I did, feeling the only alternative is a certain death of the self.

Ultimately I made my peace with mom, and she gracefully yielded to my desire to celebrate the holidays in quiet solitude with my husband and our cats. Left to my own devices, I didn’t throw away all of the Christmas traditions of childhood: we send Christmas cards, bake for neighbors and friends. Then on Christmas Day we relax, eat Chinese food, and watch a marathon of something mindless on TV.

There comes a moment during each holiday season when I reflect on the boisterous, colorful, exciting Christmases of my youth, of piles of presents under a big tree and throngs of loud, happy family members … and I wonder whether my modest version of Christmas doesn’t mark me a Scrooge. But in my heart, I know that all I really want of the Christmases I remember is to be a child again. I want my mother, who passed away eighteen years ago. I want to hide in a quiet room, secure in the knowledge that I can rejoin the noisy crowd in the living room anytime I feel like it. I want to belong to a big, noisy brood – but I don’t, not any more. And the truth is, even when I was part of that festive clan, I always felt a little bit apart, as though I had one foot out the front door, ready to make my escape.

Mostly, I’ve accepted my more solitary nature. This Christmas, though—let’s call it transiting Saturn opposing my natal Moon—I’ve felt the darkness of the season keenly. Scrooge’s ghosts have haunted me, and I’ve found myself wondering whether I have indulged myself too thoroughly in my independence. Who, I wondered, would care for my husband and me as we age? And if I were gone, would anyone miss me the way I miss my mother? Am I a joyless Scrooge, on a lonely path toward a pitiless end?

“Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”

In the end, I got my wish – I’m a grownup now, and sometimes it’s a lonely, difficult path. But in this dark, Sun in Capricorn season, the Moon is a kindly ghost who rises up in the cold winter sky to show my mother’s face to me—the Full Moon face of Cancer’s caring and protection, its offer of nurturing and belonging. By all rights, that face’s smile should be cold. “Look at you,” my mother in the Moon might fairly say, “You didn’t like the way I kept Christmas, but your way seems pretty bleak. Happy now?”

But of course, as in life, her face in the Moon is kind and wise and always happy to see me. And it shines down on my little house and family and the irrepressible vestiges of her old Christmas traditions—the lights on the porch, the cards hanging like tinsel, the plates of cookies. And my mother in the Moon reassures me about the life I’ve chosen, and laughs at the idea that any daughter of hers could be as heartless as Scrooge. “Oh, it’s so beautiful here, honey,” she tells me, observing the glowing fire, the peacefully snoozing cats, the husband in stocking feet. “It’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s absolutely perfect for you.”

As usual, she’s right. And I realize that what I was looking for all along in carving out my own version of Christmas was not just Capricorn respect, but a Cancerian appreciation for the needs of my own heart. And that all my mother wanted was to give me what suited me best – I just needed to learn what that was, so I could ask for it.

Scrooge’s own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

At this holiday season, may you have all of this and more, and everything your heart desires.

Excerpts from “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Full text available online at

Gemini Full Moon: Let Us Give Thanks

I’m feeling anxious about Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday, but for some reason the always-simmering but (usually) contained political hostilities within my family have flared up, and this can make family gatherings mighty uncomfortable.

I don’t know exactly what has triggered the rage that’s spilling out all over my loved ones’ Facebook pages this week. I don’t really follow the news these days, but I figure it must have something to do with the really awful terrorist attacks in Paris, the unpleasant rhetoric flying around about refugees, or maybe those godless Starbucks coffee cups.

But really, it could be anything. Because the real conflict is between two fundamentally different world views.

Which brings us to the two planets that best symbolize those views: Saturn and Neptune. The first of three exact square aspects between them takes place this Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 26, 2015 – the other two dates are June 17 and Sep. 10). At this Full Moon in Gemini (Nov. 25 in the U.S., Nov. 26 most other places), the Sun is conjoined Saturn in Sagittarius, the Moon is opposed both of them, and they are all in square aspect to Neptune. So I’d say this Full Moon is pretty much where this nearly year-long Battle of the Titans gets underway. (more…)

Taurus Full Moon: The Sorcery of Benign Neglect

We visited a Taurus-rising friend in her Bay Area home last spring, and she treated us to a tour of her thriving garden. My husband and his Taurus Moon were especially taken with her “tater totes”—recycled tote bags, perfect for growing potatoes. But nothing impressed him more than her elaborate, three-section composting shed. While the two discussed, at length, its design, construction, and functionality, I (no planets in Taurus) wandered off to find the cat.

Plant some Taurus in a birth chart, and it will generally grow into a green thumb. My husband has stationed a cookie-jar sized container next to our kitchen sink to collect scraps for his own, cherished compost heap. And just this morning, my Sun in Taurus neighbor cheerfully described what a good time she’d had yesterday, working in her garden. She’d started out a little bit sad and out of sorts, she said, but a day of puttering around in the dirt had set her right.

Taurus has an instinct for cultivation. Its opposite sign, Scorpio, symbolizes the process of death and decay, the spent organic matter that’s thrown on the compost heap and the busy, helpful insects that break it down. The result, to most of us, looks like plain old dirt. But from across the horoscopic wheel, Taurus recognizes the resulting loam as beautiful, nourishing, and helpful, and knows just how to use it to encourage things to grow.

It’s not always gardening that engages Taurus’ talent for growing things. Some with this sign strong in their charts kill their house plants with alacrity but are brilliant at cultivating a thriving business, a stable organization, or a devoted cadre of friends. They’re geniuses at taking over a situation that has collapsed through mismanagement, malfeasance, or pure exhaustion, and restoring it to strength and health.

Taurus has a gift for nurturing, but it’s not the tender, sympathetic nurturing of, say, Cancer. Rather, Taurus’ style is a blend of hands-on labor and benign neglect. Plants, people, and organizations thrive under Taurus’ care because they receive the right amount of support, sustenance, and stability, without getting smothered. From the time we could walk, my Sun in Taurus mom taught us manners and supervised our chores, but gave us a pretty long leash when it came to playing in the mud and falling on our butts. She used to joke, “If my kids haven’t eaten a pound of dirt by the time they’re walking, I haven’t done my job!” We got into all sorts of scrapes, but after a quick inspection for real damage, she calmly dusted us off, slapped bandages on us, and distracted us from dramatic tears and temper tantrums with a brisk joke and a cookie.

There’s something reassuring about Taurus’ cheerful confidence and utter lack of drama. As kids, we’re haunted by nameless fears—of the dark, of losing our parents, of being bullied at school. We see creatures in the shadows and are terrified by vivid, scary dreams. We’re attuned to Scorpio’s invisible, magical world, and we’re drawn to horrific fairy tales that help us understand what we find there. As we grow into adults, we don’t need nightmares or the Brothers Grimm to scare us; life itself gives us plenty to worry about. Through it all, Taurus is the sensible, grounded voice that reassures us that everything will work out, that makes us feel better about things by refusing to make a big deal about them.

In the Scorpio season, the shadows grow longer and the days shorter. What was planted in spring and flourished in the summer is withering and exhausted. Our late autumn festivals celebrate the crops that have been harvested and the loved ones who have passed on. We acknowledge the mystery and necessity of death during Scorpio’s season.

But each of us, in our Taurus planets or house (don’t know how to find it? this post should help), possesses the sorcery of benign neglect. In some part of your life, you know how to make things grow, how to support life without smothering it, and to comfort those who are fearful. So at the Taurus Full Moon, gather up the compost of fears, failed dreams, and insecurities. Till them into the garden’s soil; then cover it up for the winter and let it rest. By spring, the soil will be strong and refreshed, and ready to nurture fresh, new, and abundant life.

Aries Lunar Eclipse: The White Knight

One morning a few days before the Aries Lunar Eclipse, on deadline and procrastinating with some internet busywork, I ran across something that left me furious. Yes—in the words of the old cartoon meme, someone was wrong on the Internet. Wrong in a way that made me feel attacked and bad about myself. And so, I got angry—angry to a degree far out of proportion to the offense. So angry that it actually scared me a little bit.

As a woman in her sixth decade of life, a professional, a mentor, and a counselor, I was unnerved that such a small thing could make me so angry that, for a moment anyway, I entertained black thoughts of bitter retaliation. It’s times like this that remind me how we came to use expressions like, “That made me mad,” when we mean something made us angry. It really is a kind of madness when petty anger is triggered.

I had met the lunar eclipse in Aries (Sep. 27 or 28, depending on your location) a few days early. This is the last of three Aries eclipses since October 2013 (the others were on October 18, 2013 and October 8, 2014). Each one has given us the opportunity to learn something more about how, when, and even whether to stand up for ourselves.

Aries is the sign of self-defense. At best, it’s the knight on a white horse, brandishing a glittering and lethal sword, galloping to your defense when you feel threatened. But it’s important to remember whom the knight serves: the ruler of the realm, symbolized by the Sun, ruler of ego, selfhood, and sanity. A knight’s crusade is only as honorable as the monarch who sends him into battle.

You’re the monarch of your life, the hero of your own story. And when you perceive that you’re in danger, the knight is deployed to defend you. This knight is at its best when life and death are at stake. So if you don’t live in constant fear of immediate physical peril, what’s the knight’s job?

Mostly, we put him to work as a security guard. He protects the ego and sees to it that you are treated with proper respect. He waits in readiness, but the scope of his battles is disappointingly small. Then, one day someone insults the King or Queen in his presence, and he grabs the offender by the labels, pinning him to the wall.

Occasionally, such a fellow serves a weak, petty tyrant who turns him into a dark knight, sending him into battle over hurt pride rather than honor. Recently I watched a television series about Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. No one disputes that Escobar was a dangerous criminal. Nevertheless, he was beloved by a large number of his country’s citizens because he contributed money to help the poor. Escobar was surrounded by strong comrades and close advisers. But over time, under mounting pressure from his own government and that of the United States, he became isolated and paranoid. He lashed out at some of his oldest and most trusted allies, killing some of them himself.

It’s a familiar story: A man of dark power, enthralled by the ego’s need for control and adoration, is ultimately driven mad by the dark deeds carried out by his lieutenants. Whenever Aries/Mars energy goes rogue, it’s a pretty good bet that someone’s ego is feeling threatened.

During my morning of pre-eclipse outrage, I contemplated summoning the dark knight of pissiness. Fortunately, before I could do anything rash, I was rescued by a prior engagement that took me away from my office for a couple of hours. When I returned, I was able to think things through a little more calmly.

I knew I was overreacting, and I knew why. Like many of us, I’m hard on myself, self-critical, with a habit of assuming the worst about myself. So when someone accuses me of dubious behavior or poor performance, I often take it a little too hard.

This time, I took a different tack. Instead of reflexive anger and self-recrimination, I asked questions of the best, most honorable, and fairest part of myself. Had I been guilty of wrongdoing? Had I done harm? And had I been harmed, really?

In the end, my inner Solar Queen ruled that I had acted in good faith, harmed no one, and sustained no real injury. Satisfied with her verdict, I thanked my knight for his willingness to defend me, but told him that I’d take it from here.

Eclipses in Aries activate the knight in you, and it’s important that you also awaken the part that is a wise and temperate ruler. Act in good faith. Admit your mistakes. Practice forgiveness. If there’s a real threat, let your knight draw his sword. But if you find yourself pledging vengeance, summoning a dark knight, a henchman to do your dirty work and avenge your ego, remember what kind of monarch you want to be. Remember that you want to be the hero of your own story instead of the villain—and that calls for the help of a white knight, not a dark one.

Learn more about what this eclipse will mean for you – order my exclusive eclipse report, Followed by a Moonshadow!