Monday, December 1, 2008

Mercury: Our Universal Connection

Have you ever wondered how and why people think the way they do, or wondered what gives each of us our own unique expression and perception of the world around us? Have you noticed how two people can experience the same situation, and yet describe it as entirely different? While various schools of thought have their own ideas of what makes us tick, within the science of astrology, we have access to precise tools that help us to gain a greater understanding into the inner workings of our personal and collective human experience.

The above questions, the inspiration behind our even asking them, and all other mental meanderings astrologically belong in the realm of the tiny and powerful planet Mercury.

In Roman mythology, Mercury is the swift Messenger of the Gods. Sporting wings on both his feet and head, he quickly communicates knowledge and wisdom between the lofty heavens and all Earth-bound souls in their stewardship. Mercury also watches over and influences the areas of commerce and travel. In astrology, Mercury is said to be the diligent conduit between our spiritual and physical selves; exchanging information between our own Higher Wisdom and our existence at the material level.

The fleet-footed planet Mercury, like its namesake Roman deity, dashes through the heavens like Speedy Gonzales, moving faster than any other planet in our solar system. It takes Mercury a mere 88 days to orbit the Sun, spending just a tad over 7 days in each sign of the Zodiac. Mercury is the closest planet to our Solar center, and as a result, can only be seen either early in the morning or in the evening at twilight. Mercury works closely with the Sun in facilitating our abilities at self-expression, and therefore is never more than 28 degrees away from the Sun in either direction in a Zodiac chart.

Cerebral by nature, Mercury is a busy little guy who divides his time by watching over the highly intellectual signs of Gemini and Virgo, and their corresponding 3rd and 6th Houses of communication, thought processes and work ethics. Mercury also works very harmoniously within the realm of Aquarius – another brainiac sign, and its corresponding 11th House of friendship and group activities. Described by some as an “opportunistic planet, decidedly unemotional and curious”, Mercury’s action is to take things apart, experience their inner workings, and put them back together again. Mercury is also a quickening and enlivening energy that adds mobility and fluidity to our activities, and those of us who have Mercury prominent in our natal charts tend to be witty, lively and brimming with curiosity.

So, how can this knowledge of Mercury benefit us on an individual level, you ask? Simply put, how Mercury’s energy will manifest within each of us personally – indicating our own intellectual and inventive abilities among other things, depends on each individual horoscope as a whole. The Sign and Element Mercury dons, the House in which it occupies, and any Aspects Mercury makes to the other planets will all have a direct bearing on any chart interpretation.

To give you an idea, as the foremost planet of communication, wherever Mercury has set up shop in your own natal chart will indicate not only your preferred method of expression, but how your abilities at communication will be best utilized. For instance, a person with Mercury in the 1st House of the Outer Self would likely be extroverted, and have no problem expressing her or his true nature to others. Their life could essentially be considered a verbal open book. Conversely, someone with Mercury in the 12th House of the Inner Self may be introverted, especially secretive about his or her thoughts and ideas, and are likely hesitant to express what they really think.

On an intellectual level, the House where Mercury resides in an individual chart indicates the area of life in which we utilize our mental talents and put them to practical use. This is also the area of life where we realize our need to make contact with others and increase our academic experience. Corresponding to this, the Sign that Mercury adopts in our individual charts indicates how we communicate our mental talents to the world. Since Mercury tends to stick pretty close to the Sun, it will usually bear either the same Zodiac Sign, or one of the Signs on either side. For example, if your Sun is in Aries, it is likely that you also sport Mercury in Aries, or have it close by in either Pisces or Taurus.

Any aspects to Mercury in our charts will indicate our mental talents and communication styles in a very specific way. Mercury naturally tends to be pretty neutral as far as mental communication, perception and reasoning are concerned. When we add an aspect or two to the mix, we find that these areas of focus take on the energies of the other planets involved, including the signs and houses where they reside. For example, a person who’s Taurus-clad Mercury in the 8th House squares his or her Aquarian Jupiter in the 5th, their inherent tendency toward practical decision-making (Mercury) could become too extravagant (Jupiter) for realistic use. This person would benefit from a strong Saturn placement, which would serve to bring the individual’s brilliant ideas into more sensible, user-friendly applications.

Since Mercury is ambiguous by nature, it is capable of changing on a dime, and can easily take on the characteristics of any planets residing nearby. For example, a person with their Moon snuggled up nice and tight with Mercury would find that their emotions tend to colour their reasoning a bit, and that they are particularly sensitive to what others think of them. This understanding can assist them in recognizing the tendency as it occurs, allowing them to choose whether or not to alter their behaviour accordingly to achieve the best overall results.

In medical astrology, Mercury is associated with the nervous system, the brain, the respiratory system, the thyroid and the sense organs. Any issues that arise, or are hidden, in these areas of the physical body can be indicated easily by Mercury’s placement in our natal charts, any relationships it has with other planets, and its movement in our progressed and transit charts. As you can see, astrology can be an effective complementary diagnostic tool in the ever-expanding realm of health care.

On another practical level, Mercury’s power day of the week is Wednesday. If ever you have a need or a desire to enhance any particular area of your life that Mercury influences, choose Wednesday to begin focusing your intentions on the subject. This is a very powerful method of accessing potent Mercurian energies to manifest our desires, and create a more profound sense of personal and global well being.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Our Moon, The Feminine Divine

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
-- Lord Byron

The Moon holds such a natural fascination for us, doesn't she? How often are we absolutely wowed by her beauty when we happen to glance up at the night sky? Whether she is in her full aspect or in her crescent phase - which I like to call "the bow of Artemis", seeing the Moon illuminating the dark of night inspires us to pause a moment and experience her beauty. She is magic, she is mystery, and she is grace.

The Moon rules the zodiac sign of Cancer and the Fourth House, representing our deepest personal needs, our unconscious minds, and our instinctive, emotional reactions. She indicates our feeling nature, and how we instinctively react to any challenges we may face. The things we just seem to know without giving them any thought, such as our instincts, intuitive impulses, and hunches are all products of the Moon. The forms of expression that you feel seem to emanate from your deepest self belong to the Moon, which can include all forms of art, letters, and creative work of any kind. These modes of expression can sometimes manifest through acts of love, and sometimes even in the type of work you choose.

When we are positively inspired by the Moon, we are creative, intuitive, sentimental, adaptable, introspective, and protective. If negatively inspired, we become moody, restless and irrational.

Associated with the mother and feminine energy in general, the Moon represents our individual nurturing instincts. Depending on where the Moon is located in an individual's natal chart, and in which sign she inhabits, will indicate the person's perceptions regarding their mother and women in general. For instance, a person with their natal Moon in Virgo will perceive their mother as having the qualities of a Virgo, and may feel that their mother is either highly efficient, dependable and reasonable, or too critical and not emotionally supportive, even if in reality this is not the case. A person with their natal Moon in Aquarius may experience an unconventional relationship with their mother, perceiving mom as being aloof and unpredictable, avant-garde and fun, or even not altogether there. The Moon in an individual's Fourth House indicates that the person's mother is a very strong influence in his or her life; a nurturing soul who provided the basic needs for survival of shelter, food and love.

Since the Moon represents our unconscious desires and the influence of the past upon our present lives, she indicates what we feel our needs are in order to achieve a sense of security, which may or may not in reality be healthy for us. She is both our inner child and our outer mother, and indicates our spontaneous and instinctual reactions to our environment. She also shows us how we protect ourselves; how we make ourselves safe, comfortable and secure. Whether we allow ourselves to be motivated by fear, restlessness or a fearless sense of adventure is often indicated by the sign our Moon embraces in our charts. By showing us our unconscious responses, the Moon helps us to gain deep personal insight and we can then work toward healing any deep emotional wounds we have experienced. By healing these wounds, we can then be free to grow into our authentic, powerful selves.

The Moon is in partnership with the Sun as the Luminaries of the zodiac. Together they form a perfect balance of masculine and feminine energy, and remind us of the balance we can create in our relationships and within ourselves. Your Moon and Sun can interact either harmoniously or in conflict with each other, depending upon their placement in your chart, and how they dance with each other through the heavens at any given time. On occasion, the Sun can act as a censor to our Lunar instincts, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on the circumstances. For example, whenever we feel misunderstood, it is often our Moon energy imperfectly expressed through our Sun sign. When you know what you'd like to do, but can't find the right way to do it, it is likely your Moon that knows and your Sun that refuses to react in harmony with this desire. When you find yourself thinking, "Now, why did I just say that?" and are pleasantly surprised by your spontaneous wit and candor, it is your Lunar energy expressing itself despite your Sun's attempts to censor it. Conversely, if you've just committed an embarrassing or damaging slip of the lip, it's very likely your Sun expressing itself against the will of your Moon.

The Moon's energy is responsive, receptive and reflective. If she is very strong in an individual's natal chart - either lying close to the Ascendant, Descendant, Tenth or Fourth House cusps or residing in a water sign such as Scorpio, Cancer or Pisces, the Moon can drive the personality even more than the Sun. It is often said that to achieve true happiness in life, it is best not to give the Moon too much or too little importance in your life. I'd like to amend that by saying it's best to pay attention to the signals the Moon is giving you, and act accordingly. If your unconscious responses are holding you back from forward movement, or if your instincts are to recklessly jump off every cliff that you encounter, insight into these traits can serve you well by inspiring you to make a choice whether or not to consciously move in a different direction. The Moon is a benevolent teacher, as are all the planets, and can teach us much if we give her a listen.

So if it feels good, embrace your own feminine aspect, whenever she appears. Allow her to express herself fully in the most positive ways, through the inspiration of poetry, the emotion you feel while gazing into the eyes of a lover, and those mystifying instincts that can gently beckon you to places as yet unexplored. The mystical and magical depths is where you'll find her, will you answer her irresistible call? The choice, as always, is yours.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Our Suns, Our Selves

You know, technology is just about the coolest thing going! I'm feeling this pretty strongly today, as I'm careening northbound along I-75 with my guy by my side, my laptop open and at the ready to archive my mental meanderings. George Harrison is gently serenading us from the Ipod as we're heading up for a lovely weekend stay in Petoskey, MI. I'm utilizing the drive time to polish up this article while enjoying the awakening fall colours along the way. It all feels amazingly good! While this may seemingly have little to do with this month's article, I'm inspired to express the joy I feel at being able to experience writing in such a fashion. As a bona fide Aquarian "gadget girl," I absolutely appreciate the way technology has streamlined my life, and wanted to share my gratitude with you. It's the little things that count.

Last month's offering completed my series of articles touching briefly upon the qualities of each of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Beginning this month, we'll journey together through a discussion on the planets and asteroids, and how they can provide insight into life's internal and external experiences. We'll begin our journey with this month's focus on the radiant and powerful Sun.

"So…what's your sign?"

Are you rolling your eyes yet? I know we've all heard this question at least once in our lives, most likely at a party or pub during the seventies when it transformed from a useful query into a common pick up line. Since I'm not one for clich├ęs, when I've just met someone that piques my interest, I'm more likely to ask, "When's your birthday?" As an astrologer, I simply cannot help myself in asking, and this way I'm spared a fair amount of the aforementioned eye-rolling. Regardless of how it's asked, this question is referring to a person's Sun Sign, and while it is very helpful to us in gaining insight into the mysteries of each other, it's important to remember that it is only a portion of the complete picture.

Your Sun Sign refers to the zodiac sign that the Sun was moving through at the moment of your birth. The exact day that the Sun transitions from one sign to the other varies slightly from year to year, due to adjustment for leap year. With this in mind, those of us who are born on or near the day the Sun makes this shift between the signs are considered "cusp born" and will embody some traits of the two neighboring signs. Additionally, if you are born on the very day of this shift, you will need to check with an astrologer or ephemeris with your exact time of birth in order to get an accurate Sun Sign denomination.

The Sun is the official ruler the zodiac sign Leo, as well as the Fifth House of creativity, which represents children of the mind and body, our romantic tendencies and how we seek pleasure. In medical astrology, the Sun is associated with the heart, circulatory system, and the thymus. Sunday is thus named because of its association with the Sun.

When we look at the Sun's symbol, it signifies the Circle of Spirit (potential) finding expression or focus in the central point (self.) The Sun is the giver of life. It is central to our being, directing us through this lifetime's experience, and can be considered the "boss" of our chart. It indicates what we are learning to become, and more accurately represents our capacity for reason as opposed to our instincts. If we choose to identify ourselves in healthy ways to our Sun signs, we can thus gain a greater degree of happiness and fulfillment.

We know that we are identifying ourselves with our Sun Sign when we exhibit the more positive traits of feeling purposeful, directed, proud and creative. We also know this when we demonstrate the more negative traits of being haughty, stubborn, self-centered and judgmental. (Knowing the negative aspects of Sun Sign identity can help us to keep ourselves in check by choosing to shift gears and move along a more constructive path.)

The Sun is a powerful representative of many aspects of our lives. Depending on where it dwells in our chart, it indicates our conscious mind, our will to live, and our creative life force. Being the center of our being, it represents our ego or sense of self and shows the amount of self-determination we exhibit while reaching toward our goals. It is our adult nature that keeps our inner child in check while indicating our level of honesty and integrity. The Sun also signifies our leadership qualities and our ability to impress and influence others.

There is much that can be gleaned by studying the Sun's placement in our own natal charts; including insight into the most constructive behaviours to utilize that will move us forward on our unique paths. Insight into the best form of our unique expression can be found there. For instance, the Sun's affiliation with a sign indicates our life purpose and the style in which we leave our mark in the world. The Sun's position in a house signifies what area of life we find full expression of our character and the experiences that contribute to our sense of individuality. It also indicates how we seek admiration, attention and respect from those around us.
A visit with a professional astrologer can help us to clarify how the Sun is working for us, and what we can do to best utilize our own unique power and gifts in order to be of service to ourselves individually, and to the world as a whole.


Monday, September 1, 2008

A Look at Virgo

As a child, my youngest son was always such an inquisitive little guy, and the typical answers just weren’t good enough for him. For every question I answered, more would follow as if the original query were growing layers that sunk deeper and deeper into the subject matter. Exasperated at times, I would ask, “Honey, could you stop being a Virgo? Just for a moment?” It’s important for me to note here that he has always been a joy to be around, with his slightly reserved sense of humour and outwardly easygoing nature. Everyone he meets is charmed by his presence, and I feel so truly blessed that he has chosen me to be his mother.

Now that he’s grown into an extraordinarily wonderful man, that natural “hair-splitting” instinct has not abated in the slightest. Occasionally, when he’s mulling over a particularly perplexing dilemma in my presence, I just have to flash him a certain look, and he responds with a chuckle, “I know, I know…I’m being a Virgo.” It’s a good thing that Virgo lands where it does in my chart, enabling me to understand Virgos on the mental level, and the complexities that they create for themselves. (You can best believe that I’ve read, reread and rewritten this article several times before final submission.) I’ve always enjoyed a good, easy rapport with Virgos, and as a result, many of them show up and stick around in my life.

The Sun makes its transit through the sign of Virgo every year from around August 23rd to September 22. Its symbol is that of a woman, denoting the archaic idea of a rather feminine, introverted energy. Virgos can be quite reserved, are often not terribly comfortable with emotions, and therefore tend toward a more non-demonstrative, less affectionate nature. Ruled by the planet Mercury, these people can tend to live very much in their heads, where pragmatism and the need for stable routine is the name of the game. As an Earth sign, Virgo has a fondness for material gain, with highly discriminating taste, and many are known as clothes-horses. They are often impeccably dressed, and can look fabulous no matter what they wear. Most Virgos can wear a burlap sack and somehow make it look like the height of fashion. As a mutable sign, Virgo has a gift for blending well in just about any setting, and may sometimes even alter themselves temporarily in an effort to be approved of by others, which is not exactly the healthiest approach for gaining acceptance.

Keeping it simple can be a challenge for our Virgo friends. The key phrase for Virgo is “I Analyze.” Every thought, conversation, and emotion breeds like bunnies when placed under the Virgoean mental microscope. Under such intense scrutiny, the issue can become transformed into something so far removed from its original essence or intention that Virgos can wind up creating more problems for themselves and those close to them, instead of solving the actual issues at hand.

Virgos are known as the bachelors of the zodiac, and often marry quite late in life, if they marry at all. This is likely due to their highly critical nature, in which no one quite measures up to their lofty standards…least of all themselves. I know a particularly unhappy Virgo who feels so deeply inadequate about herself, that she endlessly criticizes those around her, especially her stepson. He has grown up under her constant scrutiny and, as a result, struggles with uncertainty and feelings of his own inadequacy. It doesn’t help that he is also a Virgo, and so the chain of perfectionist-laden pain goes on and on. The more evolved Virgo will recognize this tendency toward unreasonable demands of themselves and others, and, if inspired, will strive to become more tolerant. This brings me to my fondest wish for both of them…that they learn to lighten up, already!

Most Virgos’ political and social views tend toward the conservative, and they also dress accordingly. They are often refined, polite and well-mannered. It’s important to them that their environment is organized and clean, and they require all of their relationships to be meticulously conducted, intellectually stimulating and even-keeled. Since Virgo is relatively uncomfortable with sentimentality, many dislike emotional scenes, and rarely engage in public displays of affection. While they exhibit a rather cool, calm exterior, many Virgos are inwardly churning with unspent nervous energy. This is often a result of pent-up feelings of insecurity or a lack of self-confidence. No one is tougher on a Virgo than they are on themselves. It’s important that Virgos learn to let themselves off the hook a bit, and just loosen up once in awhile. Finding activities that allow them to work off some of their built-up frustrations in a manner consistent with their personalities would be a healthy way to find relief from their own self-imposed daily grind. Carrying Amazonite will lend a calming, soothing energy that can also help to boost self-confidence.

Virgo’s perfectionist tendencies can make them so afraid of making a mistake, that their fear can have a paralyzing effect upon them. I know a man who has Virgo placed prominently in his chart. He’s a likeable enough guy, but is often late for just about everything, and really hasn’t moved forward much in life because he spends an inordinate amount of time sweating over every little detail, instead of actually taking action to achieve his goals. This becomes a vicious cycle, because he then feels inferior, berating himself for not being where he wants to be in life, and yet he’s seemingly unable to make the changes necessary to get where he wants to go. It can be quite exhausting watching him torture himself, and yet whoa be it for anyone to try to help him sort it all out. He simply has to do it himself…and can get rather cranky when anyone tries to suggest a fresh approach. I’m speaking from experience here.

Virgos have a tendency to be the best, most methodical workers of the zodiac. They take their responsibilities very seriously, and because they dislike a break in routine, are known to stay in the same job until retirement. If they are in a position of authority, a challenge for Virgo is to learn the fine art of delegation. It can be daunting for them to trust anyone else with the tasks at hand, and if they can learn to let go of the need for complete control, Virgos can save themselves from experiencing nervous exhaustion or a myriad of other stress-related maladies. The best occupations for Virgos are those that require some pretty hefty analytical abilities. You’re likely to find many Virgos in the fields of medicine, education, science, psychology, accounting, and inspection.

Virgos have a great many gifts that they can bring to the table in just about any situation. Learning the spiritual values of self-love and acceptance can free them to find the fullest expression of their many talents. It will benefit them greatly when they learn to relax and let their hair fly wild and free in the wind. It is possible for them to begin allowing themselves to appreciate the benefits of taking a break from it all once in awhile…or even more often. Believe me, I know Virgos who have courageously stepped outside their self-imposed boundaries and learned to really breathe, and hey guess what…the world hasn’t stopped spinning on its axis. Fancy that!


Friday, August 1, 2008

The Lion’s Share

I’ve known many Leos in my time thus far, and each of them in their own unique way has inspired a greater understanding of the complexities of this human experience. They are a dynamic lot, these courageous souls, and while at times infuriating, they do have the potential to really spice up the mix a bit!

Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac, and therefore finds its natural home in the fifth house of pleasure, fun, creativity and romance. Not all Leos take full advantage of these qualities, but enough of them do to make things memorable for the rest of us. Masculine by nature, Leo’s element is fire and its quality is fixed and stubborn. Ruled by the Sun, Leo exhibits a passionate, vibrant, fiery quality that is at once attractive, if not a little dangerous. Those of us who feel compelled to fly a little too close to the warmth of Leo’s center may get our wings singed a bit from time to time…ah but such is the nature of the beast, and some prices are worth paying dearly for. That is, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Sun dances through Leo every year from around July 23rd to approximately August 22nd, depending upon the year. The symbol for Leo is the lion, due to its proud, regal and dramatic nature. Leo likes to be in charge, and those with Sun in Leo definitely rule over his or her particular patch of the jungle. Every Leo I’ve ever known makes it quite clear from the get-go that they are most assuredly in charge, and woe to the individual that attempts to assert their own brand of authority in the realm of the Lion. Anyone blessed by the presence of a Leo in their lives have experienced both the highest levels of affection, and the loudest spine-rattling roar from their Leonine loved one when circumstances inspire.

Leo loves the drama, comfortably taking center stage at any party or production and delighting us with its playful, yet powerful sense of nobility. I had a Leo friend during my teenage years who would enter a room full of people with a flourish, and a resounding “Hi!” We simply had no choice but to pay attention to him when he was present, and he made it worth our while by amusing us with his lordly theatrics. The only people remotely miffed by his flamboyant, attention-grabbing behaviour were the other Leos in the room…and there were quite a few. The smartest of us simply ducked out of the path of all Leos present and watched the drama unfold from the sidelines. Each lion – male and female alike, would vie for the center seat in all gatherings using every clever method they could devise, (sometimes subtle…sometimes not so much,) and the rest of us would simply pop popcorn and wait to see which one remained unscathed to the end. Hey, in those days they rolled up the sidewalks at 5 pm in Royal Oak…we youngsters had little else to do to amuse ourselves!

Leos generally make loving, affectionate parents who dote on their children as extensions of themselves. They take their role as parents very seriously, and their children quickly become the measure of their abilities. Care should be taken by all Leo parents to allow their children the freedom to spread their own wings, to develop their own unique sense of self, and to express their individuality. Trust me, if you give them the option, they will make you proud. Your strength, loyalty and devotion have given them the greatest tools to venture out into the world, and at some point, you will have to let go and let them fly. This is especially true if your little ones are also little Leo cubs. See yourself in them. Remember the freedom of expression you craved as a young lion. Know what would have inspired you to thrive as a child growing into adulthood, and behave accordingly. You will then know the realization of your greatest accomplishment as a parent: the complete acceptance and devotion of your children in the form of strong, self-assured, successful adults.

Leos can be the most loyal, supportive and enthusiastic of friends. Their sunny dispositions and clever sense of humour add to their already attractive nature, and they can be a great deal of fun to be around. The Leos who exemplify this trait will be there for friends and family through thick and thin, fiercely defending them to a fault, and always showing up with a lavish gift on special occasions or a bottle of wine and Belgian chocolates when one’s heart has been broken to pieces. A Leo’s heart is a big one, and those who have been raised to know their own power will courageously share their affections expansively.

The most rewarding careers for Leos are those which allow them to express themselves creatively and powerfully. Politics, law, entertainment in the form of music, theater and other art forms are ideal choices for Leos. Bill Clinton, Madonna, Amelia Earhart, Mick Jagger, Peter O’Toole, Menachem Begin and Martin Sheen are just a few of the many Leos who have stepped into the public spotlight and dazzled us all with their abilities, in addition to providing us with dramatic, provocative and colourful situations that really turn our heads!