Praise the Strong Woman


For several weeks this spring, a shouting Donald Trump made fun of the way Hillary Clinton was shouting. He complained that her voice was shrill and it hurt to hear it. All politicians shout. But women know exactly what it means when they’re accused of being shrill. It’s code for “Your strength is unattractive.”

Recently we lost a beautiful strong woman. Basketball coach Pat Summit won more games than any other coach in college basketball history. I love what her fiercest rival said of her, “She had vision, she had intensity, and she made it okay for a woman to stare you down from the sidelines and show emotion and get upset.”

Summit prowled, pounced and roared. She was shrill. And not only did she have the victories, her players had a 100 per cent graduation rate; among them were 14 Olympians, 21 All-Americans, and 34 WNBA players.

Mars stationed retrograde in late April, just as Venus disappeared into the underworld. Retrogrades and underworld visits are typically “unraveling” times. But what has unraveled during this retrograde is cause for celebration. The appeal of the “unconscious woman” seems to be diminishing. The beauty of the “strong woman” is rising.

This has long been in the works. But often it takes a tragedy for us to see how things are changing. The wide public outcry against the Stanford rapist’s light sentence is one example. It was a retrograde sentence; the tables turned. The victim became the victor. Her letter to the court, addressing her rapist, was so powerful, the vice-president called her a “warrior–with a solid steel spine.” That’s one way to turn the Venus/Mars archetypes inside out & upside down.

Art often helps to pave the way for social changes. What we see in films and videos often helps us enter new worlds. In recent weeks we’ve seen some stunning depictions of “shrill” women on the cultural stage. Beyonce’s Lemonade dropped at the beginning of this period and gave us a jaw-dropping portrait of feminine strength. Never has an angry woman looked so beautiful as Beyonce does, in that canary yellow dress, evoking the goddess Oshun, as she smashes car windows with a baseball bat.  But then there’s also Danearys, hopping onto her dragon in the Game of Thrones. Cornered by the Masters and instructed to bow down, she says “Not so fast,” and then crushes her enemies with a rain of dragon-fire and two armies. Game of Thrones has given us many strong women this season. But perhaps most satisfying has been watching the fluffy innocent Sansa evolve into a cunning, powerful force. Much as I love Jon Snow, without Sansa, he’d be gone again by now! Then, of course, there’s the ultimate Kali, Cersei. Who knew that the Iron Throne would be up for grabs by so many queens!

Winter may be coming, but strong women are rising, in Westeros, and in our world too.

Cancer New Moon: Listen to Your Fairy Godmother


According to a recent study, there are now more obese than underweight people in the world. Thirty years ago, it was just the reverse. We can blame this on fast-food living, sedentary lifestyles or the fat-free craze, but the truth is that many of us use food as a substitute for something we’re not getting – like affection, approval or relaxation. We eat to compensate, to reward ourselves, but we usually don’t listen to what the urge to overeat is telling us.

As emotional overeating coach Sarah Jenks explains, “Overeating isn’t just a bad habit, it’s a soul, a spirit, an energy like anything else. The soul of overeating is like a boisterous, tell-it-like-it-is fairy godmother who swoops down and says, “WAKE UP! YOU NEED TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND MAKE SOME CHANGES.” But we don’t, she adds, because we’re taught that overeating is a weakness. Instead we hide out and try to control it, as we plan our next ill-fated diet.

I know I’m guilty of this; perhaps you are, too. It can be scary to take the necessary steps to create a more authentic, fulfilling life – especially in these changing times, with so many things falling apart to make way for a better world.

Like a nurturing mom, cuddly kitten or delectable piece of apple pie, the Cancer New Moon has arrived to soothe your soul however you choose. The Sun and Moon will embrace in sensitive, patriotic Cancer on Independence Day (July 4, 4:01 a.m. PDT).  Neptune trines the New Moon, lending an aura of sweetness and love. With six planets plus Chiron in water signs, however, it’s important to honor whatever you’re feeling. Surround yourself with those you love and eat that buttery corn on the cob or whatever else you crave, but do it consciously, with gratitude. You may also want to set a place for those who are no longer with you.

During the first half of July, Venus, Mercury, and the Sun in Cancer square off with uncompromising Uranus and Pluto, calling us to take a hard look at our feelings and family life. This might include the deeper reasons behind any overeating or other bad habits. Sit down and quietly ask: What is my fairy godmother trying to tell me? What am I really hungering for? How well am I caring for my deeper self’s needs?

If you need help, call on your ancestors. Check out this Cancer New Moon ritual from my book, Astro Feng Shui: Making Magic in Your Home and Life. You’ll also find a short video at the bottom of the page on how to work with the Family gua to improve relations with family members or better meet your own needs.


Ask Aphrodite-July 4, 2016

Dear Aphrodite, I love a guy very much; he knows my feelings for him, but he just keeps saying “I like you” and “I don’t want to lose you.” His changeable attitude towards me confuses me; he always calls me if he needs advice or help, or someone to understand him, but he has a girlfriend. I don’t understand what to do. The times we spend together are some of the happiest moments in my life. Maya

Dear Maya, Oh, dear. We all have fallen into this unfortunate rabbit hole from time to time (can I get a hear, hear?!). Unreciprocated love has got to be one of the cruelest love lessons we grow through as humans. I think what makes it infinitely more cruel than it has to be is that we tend to think they don’t love us because there is something inherently wrong with us. This isn’t the case! But our psyche just goes there, maybe at first out of boredom, or simply trying to understand the unfathomable, but if we let that subconscious thought linger too long it communicates something deeper about our (low) self-esteem.

I don’t know if this is something that is keeping you hooked and hanging around a relationship that’s clearly not going anywhere, but it’s a wormy little thing lurking in many a woman’s mind and heart, a fear that because this one person doesn’t love you, others probably won’t, either. I want to tell you: That’s such baloney. One of my favorite phrases about this phase of relationship, dating, I lifted from a marketing/sales guy: “It’s not about rejection, it’s about selection.” Because, really, who can control who they fall in love with, or who they don’t (think about it a moment: Have you ever been able to simply choose who you fall in love with? If you haven’t, why do you think he should be able to do that?)?

I suspect that if you weren’t caught in this misunderstanding you’d already have moved on from this guy, because deep down we all know that it is far more juicy to be loved in the way we want to be loved – or be in hot pursuit of the promise of that all-encompassing, mutual love – than hanging around someone who can only offer crumbs of affection. Put this mantra on your mirror, right after you say goodbye to Mr. Crumbs: “I want to be with someone who feels as deliciously wild and crazy about me as I do about him.” If you still need a compelling (astrological) reason to do so: Because, you have Venus in Libra, and for you, love must be a give and take, a two-way street. When you find someone who truly deserves to be placed so high on your pedestal, you’ll know it — they will do the same for you.

Jessica Shepherd | Astrologer & Author | Health Coach

Call and Response: Cancer New Moon

winter solstice1crop

New Moons are potent times to forge alliances with the gods. Visit the invisible world. Bow and open yourself to their touch. Make an offering. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the zodiac, the gods do respond!

Water was Cancer’s first language. As a child, she babbled like a brook, thundered like a waterfall, and sank deep into thought like a well. Speaking this way, she learned how to feel all of her feelings completely. When somebody vulnerable is in danger, her heart can storm like the ocean. But most days she flows like a cool mountain stream, soothing harsh edges, blessing the roots, and finding out everyone’s secrets. She’s the Moon’s own daughter. When Cancer smiles her Moon-face smile, you can’t help but feel loved and safe. Into summer’s landscape, she carries safety pins, a damp cloth for soothing brows, colorful band-aids, and a miracle tea that makes you feel like you’ve enjoyed a peaceful sleep with happy dreams.

Visit Cancer and she’ll watch you like a pot that might boil over. “Here, you look like you need this,” she’ll say, handing you something home-baked and delicious. She knows what the birds are thinking. She can cry at the drop of a hat. Her sensitivity used to make me wonder about the durability of her blessings. But over time I learned that she’s nobody’s fool. She has a genuine talent for making things grow. Just look at her garden!  When she sits so calmly next to you, she’s steady as a mother watching a sleeping infant. She’ll feed you with quiet spoons of strength, protection, and the knowledge that wherever you are is your home. If you accept what she offers this cycle, her blessings can nurture you for months to come.

It’s easy to call in Cancer. Just find a safe place and come to stillness. Let your weary mind go, as if you were dropping into a cool bath on a hot summer day. Sink into the good that sustains you. Cancer is a water sign—its energy is fluid, cleansing, and receptive. Water sign cycles are particularly sweet for making tender connections with loved ones. They’re auspicious for spiritual practice too; whatever you sit with now can be more deeply absorbed. Listen to your intuition. Follow the intricate paths of your imagination. Commit to your creativity.

Each Moon cycle brings new energy for growth. But what specifically should you grow now? Astrology typically answers “what” questions by looking at houses. Look to the house of your birth chart with Cancer on the cusp: here’s your personal seed bed this month. This is the place where you usually “do” this sign, where the Moon is most at home, and the dance of her phases is most relevant. The New Moon may bring a unique opportunity here… but you must tune in.

Cancer’s Response

Waiting for Cancer to show up is the fun part. No way can I predict it for you. You may get a brilliant new idea for a creative project—or a sudden urge to really clean your house. It’s amazing what clearing and organizing your space can do. It’s like birds building the nest before the eggs appear. Or perhaps you’ll be asked to act as Cancer’s agent. You might bake a cake for a friend who’s in the doldrums. A child or lost cat might need your help. Cancer’s message? Notice how much you receive whenever you selflessly give.

But what if nothing wonderful happens? What if you simply feel stuck? That’s a sign that you’re under the spell of the Dark Mother, the one who resists your growth. She’s the one who always keeps you from the party because something bad could happen. On the first day of your diet, she likes to surprise you with your favorite dessert. According to Jungian analyst Marion Woodman, the Dark Mother is like “a great lizard lounging in the depths of the unconscious.” She is threatened by change. She wants you mired in inertia, feeling so incapable, that you can’t aspire to anything new. In the old days, knights took swords to the dark-mother dragons hiding in their caves. But now, with an open heart and courageous awareness, you can simply relax and coax your inner dragon into the light. There you can see how fearful she is. Speak softly, stroke her brow, and tell her everything is going to be all right. Once you gain her trust, the old dragon will change before your eyes into a willing and magical partner.

If you’d like to explore the archetypes in even greater depth, if you like to journal and/or muse on the positions of the Sun and Moon, you may enjoy my enrolling in my Moon Workshop (by snail-mail or email). It’s designed to deepen your relationship with the guardians of natural time, the Sun, the Moon, and the zodiac.

3 Minute New Moon Ritual

Ritual: Cancer New Moon

Ground your body, clear your mind…

Become aware of your body. Notice how gravity holds and connects you to earth. It’s as though your body
is an ancient stone temple—solid, strong, secure. Sanctify this temple. Imagine a priestess is pouring sacred water and scattering rose petals, all the way down, from your head to your toes. Any anxiety or negativity washes away. Notice the thoughts and feelings leaving the temple—your judgments, your distracted mind, your worried heart. Be sure to honor them. Give each a smile and a piece of cake as it departs.

Draw a circle of protection, call in blessings…

Visualize a ring of fragrant flowers surrounding you, protecting you. Know that you are safe and relaxed. Breathe deeply. Feel the power of the Sun and Moon pouring into your circle. The energy of Cancer is gathering in your circle. It is comforting, compassionate, and nurturing. It knows how to create safe spaces—the womb, the sanctuary, home. It communicates through emotions. It is intuitive, creative, and sensitive to the child within. Cancer is the archetypal Mother. Continue absorbing her energy as you read Cancer’s affirmations.

  • I honor my gut feelings.
  • I nourish myself in healthy ways.
  • I can feel another’s pain without losing my boundaries.
  • I know how to protect myself and others.
  • My intuition tells me all I need to know.
  • Like water, I flow easily with my changing moods.
  • My vulnerability softens my heart.
  • I create beautiful and sustaining spaces.

Allow seed intentions to form…

Your intentions for this cycle are gathering. You may already know what you wish to accomplish. Or you may not. Trust that all will unfold perfectly in time. Know that this brief ritual has aligned you with spirit. Now ask your heart if it has a closing message for you. This may come in words or as a picture, perhaps as a body sensation or sound. Give yourself time to receive this message. Digest it. Write it down. Then, in gratitude to yourself and spirit, return to normal awareness. Place a symbol of your Cancer New Moon message on your altar.

Floating in the Ocean of the Moon


Old as the Moon is the ocean, earth’s watery womb and source of life. They’re a loving pair, these two, as the Moon measures out the ebb and flow of the ocean’s tides. They’re our teachers too. To move instinctively with the rise and fall—the emptiness and fullness—of life’s cycles is the basis of Feminine wisdom. Recognition of this natural rhythm is the key to life.  Of course, the ocean’s tides are not observed in her depths—but at the coastal edge where land meets sea. Our own moods often rise and fall at the edge between our body’s experience and our psyche’s. Where these two meet we can observe the inner tides, also called forth by the pull of the Moon.

Seascape Meditation

To experience the rhythms of the sea as they are shaped by the Moon, imagine that you are lying on a remote, sandy beach. It is dawn, and a silvery Moon is descending into the horizon. The hushed roar of the ocean permeates the air, filling your ears with the sound of creation. The air is pungent with the smell of seaweed and saltwater. It is the gentle hour of the ebb tide, and as it seeps in beneath your body, you feel cradled in the loving arms of the ocean. Lifted up off the sand, your body rises and falls with the waves. Your breath becomes synchronized with the waves; you inhale and exhale in tune to the motion of the sea.

As the ebb tide recedes further and further from the periphery of land, you, too, are drawn away with it. Carried away from the coastline, you find that you have floated far into the trackless vastness of the ocean. Here, in contrast to the waves crashing on the beach, all is calm, still, and endlessly peaceful. For awhile, you float peacefully on the silver mirror of the sea. Imagine next that you are pulled down into the watery depths, where you become immersed in the ocean of life – the Mother of the Earthly world. Creatures teem about you in this aquamarine universe; fish of all shapes and sizes, plants and underwater mountain ranges. After your underwater sojourn, the ocean returns you to its surface, where the waves, pulled by an immense force, begin the long journey of returning you to land.

Now you find yourself riding the high tide towards the horizon. Above you, dusk has fallen, and the Moon has risen above the horizon. On the fullness of the high tide, you are carried on the foamy, moonlit waves toward the beach. Thrown up on the sand like a shell or a piece of driftwood, you feel shaped smooth by the Moon and ocean: made whole by the rhythms of the sea, and made wise by the knowledge that beneath the chaos and flux of everyday life, lies a deep, invisible intelligence.

Why do we need these things?


There are often horrific events during Mars retrogrades. The Mars impulse–always in danger of getting dicey–comes more easily unhinged during these weeks.  Events in Orlando just last week are a heartbreaking testament: Christina Grimmie’s murder, the Pulse nightclub massacre, and the alligator who grabbed the little boy on a Disneyworld vacation. Bad things happen all the time, but unusual patterns of events turn our eyes skyward. Mars retrograde (since April 17) brought us the massive fire in Canada; there was the Egyptian plane disappearing, and the mystery of that, unraveling oh so slowly; a boy jumped into a gorilla pit, and a rapist got a sentence fit for a prince. There is a lot that has captured our attention and outrage.

But perhaps nothing is more horrific than the fact that here mass murders aren’t so unusual. In the United States, they’ve become commonplace. Almost anyone can get their hands on an assault rifle. This truth goes beyond politics, global terrorism, mental disability, homophobia. It takes us straight into Terror with a capital “T.” Assault rifles are objects of Terror. War is their only purpose. Why do we need to preserve people’s right to purchase weapons designed solely for the mass shooting of people? Why do we need these at all?  Like others, I am tired of our politicians’ “moments of silence.”

The Feminine is rising.  Alongside the heartbreaking events of recent weeks, there have been many equally powerful Mars retrograde stories that inspire hope and awe. I think of the outcry against the Stanford rapist’s light sentence. If you have not yet read the powerful letter written by Brock’s victim, you’re missing an important document. Not only does she set the facts straight, she speaks from strength and with boundaries. We can learn from her. As VP Joe Biden acknowledged in his also powerful response, this “victim” is actually “a warrior–with a solid steel spine.”  I also think of the people lined up for miles to donate blood after the Pulse shooting, and Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tony poignant acceptance sonnet, honoring the Orlando tragedy, his wife, and the divine feminine, with his heartbreaking insistence that “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. It cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Comedian Hasan Minhaj, speaking before a roomful of pundits and congressional workers noted, that since 1998, special interests like the NRA have funneled $3.7 million to Congress. He asks the congresspeople–who each earn over $200,000 a year–“If we raise four million dollars, would you guys take that to save lives?” What will it take for our leaders to serve the Great Mother and truly make our world a safer place?

Mars goes direct on June 29.

Sagittarius Full Moon: A World You Want To Live In

Attractive woman over the cloud world map

Have you ever found your self in a relationship dynamic that you didn’t want to be in? Ever find your self, wondering: How did it get this bad? Was it the leaky faucet we neglected to fix? All those times I went silent when I should’ve spoken? That’s how many of us feel, lately, living in this world gone mad. And this dysfunctional relationship is extremely one-sided. The world is not being a good listener. It doesn’t ask you what you want and need, nor does it care. No matter how much you try to fix it, no matter how much you try to help, like an alcoholic that needs to bottom out on its own, it does what it does. No, it’s not going to change — not anytime soon, anyhow.

Yet here we are, on social media, in our conversations, attempting to have a relationship with a world gone crazy. My social media feed is a noisy cacophony of responses. Planet of communication, Mercury, in Gemini, is filling out a t-square to the Saturn-Neptune square at this Full Moon. Language can feel futile right now; how does one engage nonsense? As the saying goes, You can’t reason with crazy. Opinions have never been so freely on tap, and when everyone feels the need to speak up and share what they think, how we use our words becomes increasingly important. Do we perpetuate fear, or love, with our words and thoughts? I’ve decided the only appropriate response to world events is art. Perhaps, poetry. Maybe some spoken word:

Make all things possible again because I cannot see

I AM in a snowstorm searching for my keys

I’m being bombarded by a thousand things I did not ever want, nor ask for

None of this is mine

All of this is mine,


No, this isn’t a world I created -at least I don’t remember doing so. Yet now it is mine and I, and you, have a choice about how to participate. We can throw our words into the ring- share the innumerable meme and hate-battling sentiments, fill up our rectangular white comment blocks with more… words (sometimes our participation magnifies something, making it bigger). We can allow the fire to purify our purpose and send us on a mission to do some real good and healing. We can become a more effective change-maker (and if you know how to do this, please step forward now). If we’ve ever contributed to the shadows of bigotry, prejudice, hate and injustice that’s plaguing us now, we have the responsibility to help clean that stuff up. Or we can choose to not participate.

Let me say this: You are not a cruel and insensitive person for not openly bleeding all over your Facebook feed. Refusing to engage with a world gone mad is not avoidance. It is preservation of sanity.  I’m thinking of the recently deceased Muhammad Ali, a conscientious objector who decided to not participate in something unconscionable- the Vietnam War. I’m thinking of myself, and all the empaths who, when an act of violence drops into the atmosphere, feel it in our physical body, as something painfully destabilizing that starts making little then more noticeable inroads into our sanity, centeredness, and ability to hold peace and healing for our selves and others. Empathic or not, we are all being impacted by world events on energetic levels.

We may not be able to choose the world we live in, but we can choose to inhabit a world we want to live in. Full Moon Sagittarius shines a light beam of hope and possibility into the darkness. Let’s reach for higher ground– if only inside our self. Let’s imagine a world we want to live in. Close your eyes. What do you see? Everything is possible inside your mind’s eye, perhaps not on the outside (not yet anyhow) but inside you have an arena to play and create. Follow your inspirations, now more than ever. Give yourself permission to have a sacred sanctuary that upholds everything you stand for, your beliefs, your loves, beauty, values and truth. Hang out there. Often. You are not burying your head in the sand. You are holding a light of peace for us all. 

I create the world I want to live in. I take many trips to the garden. I court hummingbirds, wear rose oil and read books I love because this makes me feel good. Instead of giving myself over to emotional depletion, I vigilantly fill myself up. I remember what’s important, as a practice, many times a day and when fear, paranoia and despair arises from the ego structures that perpetuate them, I let that stuff go. That is not the world I want to live in. By not participating in a world I do not want, I start to create the world I want. That’s how I help heal everything. I plant flowers. I listen to music. I make dinner. I make love. I make art.

I do my women’s work

The work that all women do,

Silent but not quiet

We ask for fresh water, for healing, cleansing

We make magic disguised as small ordinary everyday things

Feeling blood pump back into muscle

Remembering what’s not mine and what is mine, strength grows

There is power in small places

A garden can feed a neighborhood

A bedroom can conceive a life

A dream can give rise to vision

An ant can pull 5,000x her body weight

Miracles happen

A hippopotamus gives strawberry pink milk to her young

My strawberry flows into me and into you

I leave a trail of sweet smelling fragrance wherever I walk

Light follows me

Sound of music and birds find me

I open my mailbox and I receive… my self


I can find myself again because I know where to look

I can take nourishment in the Mother

Venus has just entered Cancer, sign of the Mother Goddess, and the Sun will join her on this Full Moon day. The feminine always has healing nourishment on hand. The feminine, with her ability to nourish beauty and all of life even in the most desolate of times, can turn bitter vinegar into sweet wine, can teach us how to heal, and, like a flower gently turning toward the sun, open our hearts to love. She awaits, a perpetual invitation to remember our divinity. This is my world, a world I want to live in. I choose to inhabit this world. How about you?


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…)

Ask Luna-June 20, 2016

Dear Luna, For the past seven or so years I have grown to really have a problem with organized religion, especially Christianity. It all seems like a bunch of fear-based BS used to control people who don’t have a mind of their own. And no matter how hard I try I just do NOT understand how a guy dying on a cross somehow saves my soul or takes away my sins!?! My family attended a Christian church while I was growing up but nothing much sank in…except for the “fear of god” stuff. Six years ago I married a man who calls himself a “follower of the teaching of Jesus because the word ‘Christian’ has too many negative connotations.” I would love to know the “astrological reason” behind my anger toward religion and any guidance about how to handle it. It has created a huge rift in my relationship and a constant gnawing within me! I know it’s a huge deal for me and no accident that I married this man. I just don’t know how best to deal with it. I commit to showing kindness to someone who needs it AND working on forgiving my husband who I feel HAS wronged me in recent conversations. Thanks so much, Kimmie

Dear Kimmie, As I suspected, your chart shows many past lives as a priestess and healer. And, you were persecuted for this during the times when Christianity took over and stamped out worship of the Goddess. So that explains your innate fury at these teachings. With Sun conjunct Mercury in Libra (justice) in the 9th house of higher teachings, you are meant to become a voice for the Goddess once more. And, with Moon, Mars, Pluto and Jupiter in Virgo in the 8th house of sexuality, to reclaim your sexual priestess power however you see fit. You also have Venus conjunct Neptune in Scorpio, the signature of a powerful priestess. There is much beauty in the teachings of Jesus, though the Bible was heavily edited in the 6th Century AD to omit his marriage to priestess Mary Magdalen and brand her as a harlot. Read the Magdalen Manuscript to find out what their relationship was really like. And, start communing with the Moon especially when she is full, to forgive the past and reclaim your deepest priestess powers. Many blessings, Luna (Simone Butler)