Adrienne Rich and Alcyone

(dedicated to all my poetic sisters–Judith and Andrea in particular)

As Mercury and Mars moondance backwards (Retrograde) ————–and in the midst of rethinking everything it seems—we are blessed with the sight in the east of Lady of the Stars–VENUS. She shines brightly in the Eastern Sky in the 7 sisters—the Pleiades…Stars in the back of the Bull.

Quoting from Dr.Bernadette Brady on Facebook April 2nd, 2012

The above image is from NASA – A bright Venus entering, or I (Bernadette) would say, radiating, the Pleiades on the 31 March 2012. This is exact tonight – 2 April 2012. Lovely. Its meaning astrologically is an emphasis on the Pleiades which is symbolised by the fixed star Alcyone. All that is mysterious, visionary and mystical, a good night to dream those big dreams!

Bernadette writes (via Starlight program) of Venus and Alcyone:

A Love of theatre or the rituals of religion: the poetic soul

So if your skies are cloudy and you can’t see her or even if you can—I am thinking that this Venusian appearance radiating a particularly powerful constellation and brilliant star (Alcyone) honors and perhaps gives Adrienne Rich a marvelous memorial–for she too, is and will always be a fine woman and a poetic soul.  My guess is Venus is holding a service for her tonight.

We have only to look up and perhaps light a candle or two.

and read her words–read them out loud



Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750—1848)
astronomer, sister of William; and others.

A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them
a woman      ‘in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles’
in her 98 years to discover
8 comets
she whom the moon ruled
like us
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses
Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
ribs chilled
in those spaces    of the mind
An eye,
          ‘virile, precise and absolutely certain’
          from the mad webs of Uranusborg
                                                            encountering the NOVA
every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us
             Tycho whispering at last
             ‘Let me not seem to have lived in vain’
What we see, we see
and seeing is changing
the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive
Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body
The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus
         I am bombarded yet         I stand
I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep      so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me       And has
taken      I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images    for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.
Source: The Fact of a Doorframe: Selected Poems 1950-2001 (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2002)

..a bit more about Venus

From Astro Logos

Venus enters the Pleiades tonight, this is a image from NASA from the 31 March.

If people are interested here is a Visual Astrology Newsletter we wrote in June 2008 about retrograde Venus where she creates a far larger cycle then that of 8 years but rather of 243 years.

Here is the link to the newsletter for those interested in Venus’ path through the sky.

a nod of gratitude to all the poets and women and star gazers — you radiate me!  Claudia

‘BYA’ and You, Too, Will Thrive in 2012

By Marcia Buchart

Well, folks, it’s finally here: that (in)famous year of many prophecies—ranging from the catastrophic

Charon whipping the damned into Hell

 to the exalting. One of the most thoughtful little takes on the subject comes from a British contributor to the articles in my Astro Diary:

“Whatever the accuracy or relevance of the…predictions, I am nevertheless extremely impressed by the eagerness with which we have latched onto the whole idea.  I believe it [the eagerness] is symptomatic of an awareness, resonating deep within the collective, that we cannot continue in accustomed ways.

“Western astrological methodologies are sufficient in themselves to indicate that we are currently living through revolutionary times, akin to the threshold of a new season.” (emphasis mine) –Tchenka

The threshold of a new season.  The threshold of a new season!  A threshold that will last for three years, because the main aspect between planets which has built this threshold is a 90-degree square between

Pluto in Capricorn

Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn.

And they will open this door seven times now and 2015!  The door will be fully operational for the first time in June and again in September this year, at around 8 and 7 degrees of the respective signs. 

Hans Baker (also writing in my Astro Diary) terms this “the revolutionary imperative”.  Many of my friends’ conversations these days revolve around the hope that they won’t be completely destroyed in the upcoming upheavals.

And yet…

How many of you have walked out in late winter and suddenly sensed that the wind felt different, that it carried hints of warmth and moisture?  Or noticed the flush on formerly ashen twigs at the tips of tree branches?  Or noticed the first bits of vegetation poking through leaf mold on the forest floor? Or that it’s not pitch black in the morning when you go out to retrieve the paper from the slop in the driveway?  Yes, it’s still wet and raw and soggy and frigid and there’s a long slog of crummy weather ahead, but you can feel the shift beginning to gather force.  And you long for this shift, you hunger for it, for the new life that is stirring, readying to burst forth.

How can you ready yourself to receive the new life that could burst forth in you?  Well, taking a clue from the planets of the revolutionary imperative, you can do something really game-changing (Uranus) that will help eliminate (Pluto) old crap you no longer need.  Yeah, I know you’ve heard this line before and I can even feel myself stiffen up inside against the expected pain of deciding what to toss and what to keep.

But I propose that the truly revolutionary, Uranian, concept you can embody involves not a struggle to become conscious of all that might be tossed or kept and agonized over in the process, but in becoming conscious of the utterly magical, completely natural, Plutonic processes that already exist within you, constantly deciding what to toss and keep, purifying you, preserving your life by getting rid of the outworn, the toxic, the unneeded.  And the only times—the only times!—they fail to do so is when you’ve done something to wreck their function, whether it’s taking in too many toxins or trying to interfere with their function because of social embarrassment.

How about…your lungs for example?  “Every breath you take”—well, actually, every breath you let out—cleanses you.  And it’s not just your lungs doing this job!  Oh no—how about your…sinuses?  Magical holes within your head (ruled by Aries, the sign currently inhabited by Uranus) that are in constant clean-up mode.  Magical nose hairs, catching all kinds of crud to keep it out of your lungs.  We blow our noses in the morning and think, “Yuck! Disgusting!” but the maligned body parts that produced our snot are utterly magical.

Or how about…your skin?  What a beautiful, Capricornian thing, skin!  It protects and defends you and flushes toxins out through its pores.  The next time you cringe at the sight of a pimple or worry about how your sweat smells, or feel painfully embarrassed by being soaked in sweat, realize the magic taking place as it strives to purify you from within.  When the first summer heat comes on, I’m often miserable for the first two days.  Then, suddenly, it’s as if my body “remembers” how to clear itself via sweating.  And suddenly I feel all better, covered in stinky dew but so much less clotted and congested.

Okay, the liver and the kidneys are naturals as well, no?  Many medical traditions set great store by keeping these organs in top form.  But did you ever stop to consider the miracle of the bladder?  The kidneys are often considered the more “valuable” part of the system, but let’s not forget the part that labors day-in-and-day-out against the force of gravity.  Which leads us, finally, to the organ most frequently associated with Plutonic elimination, the colon.  Well no: not finally.  Medical traditions also recognize the value of a healthy colon but think about the endpoint of the colon, the body part we use as a slang term for a really malignant idiot, a total jerk.  We don’t refer to such a person as a sinus, a nose hair, a kidney, a bladder, a sweat gland.  We call such a person an asshole.

Titania with Nick Bottom (whose head is now a donkey)

Here, then, is your revolutionary assignment to ready yourself for the new season: stop using the word “asshole” as an insult.  To be more imaginatively insulting, try emulating, maybe, Hamlet who referred to his uncle, Claudius, as “a mildewed ear”.  (Actually, Shakespeare has a wonderful catalogue of such body-part insults that could be redeployed to good effect; there’s even a website to help you create your own.)

Rodin's Thinker on the throne

Instead, bless your asshole (*BYA).  Thank your asshole with heartfelt sincerity every time you sit down on the porcelain throne of the god (never realized you had divine thrones and altars to Pluto, the Lord of Elimination, so critical to your domiciles, did you?). Especially thank your asshole when you know you’ve ingested that which made its work that much harder.  Because that which your asshole relieves you of is also Plutonically magical and, after transformation, can be used to help the new life of the new season—and your life—thrive.

Therefore, be not deaf, thou gleeking, tickle-brained, jolthead! BYA!!

[created with the help of]

About the December 10th Eclipse that hopefully we will see!

Our very own Beach Connection digital magazine quotes Jim Todd of Omsi:

Jim Todd, head of OMSI’s planetarium in Portland, said the moon will be in the constellation of Taurus and near its northernmost point in its orbit.

In the northwest, the show starts at 3:33 a.m., when the shadow of the Earth starts hitting the moon. It begins taking a small bite out of the moon around 4:45 a.m.. That shadowy circle of the Earth is called the umbra.

“The partial eclipse ends and totality begins at 6:06 a.m. PST and the point of the greatest eclipse occurs at 6:31 a.m. PST,” Todd said. “The eclipse’s total phase will lasts for 51 minutes. The moon will be only 6.5 degrees above the north western horizon at the instant of the greatest eclipse.”

Todd said that there are some surprises awaiting viewers.

“What makes it so much fun is that no one can predict what color the moon will turn during totality,” Todd said. “Will it be bright orange, or blood red? Only the shadow knows.”

(I’m hoping for red :))

The total eclipse will end at 6:57 a.m. PST as the moon exits the umbra. Then the moon will set at 7:45 a.m. PST.

(if you live somewhere other than the west coast, you can find out find out the eclipse times for your area with this lunar eclipse computer, courtesy of the U.S. Naval Observatory.)

According to the tropical zodiac the Eclipse will cover the axis from a Moon at 18 degrees of the sign Gemini and the Sun at 18 degrees Sagittarius. If this were a person, the chart would look like this:

You might notice the planet Mars up at the top squaring the Sun and the Moon. We don’t really know how to interpret eclipses—but we can speculate that since what was so visible suddenly goes dark or perhaps red and then a few minutes later—it returns in all its glory. A birth of sorts with all that implies…from light to dark to light. With Mars at a critical point (the tip of what we call a T-square) in ‘conversation’ with the Gemini Moon and the Sagittarius Sun, we could say that this moment in time calls for calm and a level head – Mars is such a passionate energetic guy – headstrong and willing to go the distance. In an article in Mountain Astrologer , Gary Caton addresses Mars and this eclipse this way:

We should also note that the Moon is in Gemini at this lunar eclipse. Gemini, an Air sign, is compatible with and helps fan the flames of the Fire placements. In alchemy the Air element expresses itself through the operation of Separation, which involves rediscovery of our true essence and the letting go, or cutting away, of the self-inflicted restraints to our true nature. Mars rules cutlery and is the planet associated with the operation of Separation, as the goal is to cut away any remaining dross or falsity. Mars in Virgo is t-square to this total lunar eclipse and transiting Mars will be doing his retrograde dance in Virgo for the first four months of 2012. So the operation of Separation will be carried out via the use of critical thinking skills (Virgo), which will assist the Air element (intellect) in sorting and sifting through our lives. What parts are working and worth keeping and what parts need to be cut loose?

That would be a great question to ask yourself at this time—this potent time—a full Lunar Eclipse.

Find where the Moon would land in your chart at 18 degrees of Gemini and the Sun and take a moment to use some critical thinking about YOU and your life and what parts/jobs/relationships/attitudes could use a healthy Separation. What restraints could you release and thus find a little freedom—if you let the dark be dark, take a moment and slow down–yes–I said, slow down—Wait for it!   Ahhhh the light emerges.. Newly.

But wait—there is yet another fascinating thing about this Eclipse.  The Moon is right on the horns of a dilemma!

See that moon in the center of the horns of The Bull? Can you think of any other Bulls you see around the television machine? Keep it clean.

you got it!

Just fyi—the Moon is often said to represent “the people” in mundane astrology. I can think of several ways we could see this, but let’s look at Bernadette Brady’s writing about the constellation called The Bull from her program Starlight (found at ):

This is one of the earliest and most noted constellations probably due to it marking the vernal equinox from about 4,000 to 1700 bce in the golden age of archaic astronomy.

As the spring equinox slipped into the stars of Taurus, The Bull with its red eye became Horus the son of Osiris to the ancient Egyptians. To the Phoenician the bull-god was called Father of Men and was given the title of El, meaning bull.

El was worshipped throughout Syria where the Persians labeled the great red star in the eye of the bull as their Watcher of the East. For them a great ancient cult surfaced involving a figure called Mithra who was a god of the first magnitude, one of military valor without rival and was said to ride the solar chariot across the sky. He was also known as or linked with Ahura Mazda, saviour figure known as the Bull-Slayer, a humanized version of the Bull who seized a great wild bull by the horns and rode him to exhaustion, after which he slayed the bull whose wounds and spilt blood produced life for the earth. His worship involved a baptism of bull’s blood where the initiate stood in a pit underneath a slotted platform and was showered with the blood of a sacrificial bull slaughtered on top of the platform. The initiate would bathe in this blood and ensuring that it touched eyes, ears, mouth and body and drink it as a sacramental act. Thus the initiate emerged from this pit cleansed of sin, washed clean by the blood of the bull.

The Egyptians also annually slew a sacred bull in atonement for the sins of the realm. The concept was that the blood of one god, or the symbol of that god, could cleanse the sins of many. However, after two thousand or so years the spring equinox slipped from Taurus, the Bull, into Aries, The Ram, and this heralded the birth of yet another new god, this time emerging from the Israelites. They distinguished themselves from the bull-worshippers by using the blood of the lamb as a sacred fluid and symbol. For Moses was leading his people, chosen with lamb’s blood, to a new religion. This was the new world age marked by Aries and thus a new god was required. Returning from Mount Sinai with the new laws of the new world order, (the Ten Commandments) Moses was angered that his chosen people were looking backwards to the bull (Golden Calf) instead of forward to the lamb.

In later mythology, as the Bull began to slip from the equinox to make way for Aries it took on a more negative essence as shown in the Greek myth of Jason who had to tame a fiery bull in order to pass one of the tests towards claiming the Golden Fleece of Aries (the incoming god). In another case, it is the bull of the Minotaur, placed in a labyrinth by King Minos, who fed on sacrifices of human flesh until conquered by Theseus who came out of the labyrinth and into the light. The Bull in these myths is seen as darkness or anti-life as it becomes the old religion making way for the god of Aries.

Are the people being washed clean?

What could you put on the altar that needs to be renewed and washed?

Whew! you might say after participating with this magnificent event called a Total Lunar Eclipse. A four star movie that you can’t order up on Netflix. Magnificent.

I tell you what—I look at Susan’s painting and prints newly now…across the road from our home is a pasture and there is a Bull who used to live there. She named him Buddy. And he lives with us in paintings and prints and you bump into him all over our house.  We even sent out a Christmas card with Buddy as the main event!

Merry Christmas?  

um– I guess you could call us women who run with the bulls!

BUDDY Susan C Walsh 1999 Acrylic on Canvas

Enjoy the Eclipse and may all that is troubling you be washed clean and may the power of that magnificent animal stand up and fight for the “people”—for us.


By Marcia Buchart

How many of you have seen the video of Elizabeth Warren?

Rather marvelous, Not only because what she says needs saying, but because sometimes, the universe gives you just the right sign.  Something occurs that captures the essence of the celestial energies in play so well that it, well, goes viral through the public’s consciousness.  It is a terrific bonus when it also illuminates a neglected aspect of a zodiac sign’s energetics. 

I’m talking about Libra

On September 27, we had a New Moon at 4 degrees Libra.

That New Moon followed hard upon the autumn equinox of September 23 (when the Sun ‘ingresses’, or enters the sign Libra).  Many of my friends had also been biting their nails over the fact that just after the ingress the Sun would promptly form a configuration known as either a T-Square or T-Cross. 

It will directly face Uranus in Aries while making a square (90-degree angle) to Pluto in Capricorn.  And the Sun was not alone in this dynamic!  First, Venus marched across the relevant degrees from Sep 17 – 19.  The Sun followed on September 26 – 27, with the Moon catching up to join Him on the 27th while Mercury galloped into the fray on both the 27th and 28th, finishing the dynamic by conjoining the Sun and thereby fully shedding  (see previous post regarding Mercury and his roles in your chart) His Explorer outfit and putting on His Administrative robes.) 

And on the 28th, Themis, the Greek goddess of divine justice,stepped up and had some strong words (Mercury) to say about the social contract (Libra) she deemed should exist between the self-proclaimed, independent overlords (Sun) and the common people (Moon).

Mythic Themis, a daughter of Gaia, sat at the side of Zeus to give him counsel.

She also had a function of judging the souls of the newly deceased to determine whether they would enter Tartarus or the Elysian Fields. 

This bears a striking resemblance to another Goddess with such a function: Maat.  

She held a feather that was placed on a scale to weigh the heart of a deceased person to determine the soul’s worthiness.

Calmly impartial deities of divine justice don’t often seem to gibe with popular notions of Libra.  The sign’s keyword is “I Balance”.  But, when we think of balance, how many times do we think of maintaining stasis?  Of taking no action whatever?  But Libra is one of the Cardinal signs, whose energies initiate the beginning of a season, something too often overlooked. 

None of the Cardinal signs—Aries, Cancer, Capricorn and, yes, Libra—are passive, paralyzed or wimpy. 

To get a sense of Libra in your own body, stand up.  Close your eyes.  And just stand there.  Feel the minute adjustments your body must make to remain upright.  Now open your eyes and, with that consciousness of your body’s balance engaged, walk. 

Miraculous, isn’t it, this exquisitely controlled falling forward?  

You are using balance to move forward not to stand still! 

Just like dancers,



                                                  —all are using balance in order to move.

“Well, gee,” you might be saying, “all this balance stuff for walking requires an inward focus.  Isn’t Libra about focusing on The Other?”

Okay, let’s do another exercise, this time with a partner.  Get someone to sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ with you (maybe after a few glasses of whatever).  Sing it first in unison.  Not too hard; we all remember the tune.  Next, try singing it as a round:

Voice 1: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream/
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream/

                  Voice 2: Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream/                                                     Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…

…and so forth. 

Harder, yes?  You not only have to listen to The Other to know when to come in, you have to focus with great intent on “hearing” you own inner musical line, so you can contribute to the harmony.  Without that inner focus on your own contribution, you won’t have anything to contribute.

Wouldn’t you know, this exercise was presented in a class I took with a teacher who had five (count them!) planets in Libra, including her Sun.

But what about Libra’s reputation as Mr. or Ms. Nicey-Nice, who will do anything, say anything to avoid conflict?  In an astrological joke series, you identify someone’s Sun sign by what they say after having sex with you.  The stereotypical Libra response is, “I liked it if you liked it!”  The idea is that balance and harmony are so important to Libra that a Libra Sun person is afraid to rock the boat, to disturb the peace.

Oh really?

How about the Libra who values balance and harmony enough to fight for them?  To initiate action? 

Such as…   Brigitte Bardot

(sexy movie star, to be sure, AND activist for animal rights)
 or radical feminist Andrea Dworkin

or real-life hero Christopher Reeves who never gave up striving to walk                                                                                                                                           

    or President Eisenhower who, long before the “I Like Ike” campaign buttons were                                         handed out, was the American general heading the WWII effort in Europe 

–Lenny Bruce, the bitter, sardonic comic

                                     John Lennon, who led protests to “Give Peace A Chance

   rebel psychiatrist R.D. Laing, who fought the existing medical models of psychosis 

—controversial tennis champions Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova     

–Solidarity co-founder and political leader Lech Walesa 

or Jesse Jackson  

The current march of planets through Libra’s early degrees, which hook them up with revolutionary Uranus and transformative Pluto, have made Libra’s steel, the sword in the hand of Themis, visible. 

Do you have planets in early Libra?  Were you thinking of hiding under the covers for the next three years until Uranus and Pluto have left town? 



The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single (exquisitely balanced) step.

Scary?  You bet. 

But it could also be the thrill of a lifetime, knowing that

the art of balance can—must!—be used to move you forward.

Listen Up

by Marcia Buchart

Some of you who read the astrological press will have seen articles noting that Mercury, which has been retrograde since August 2nd, turned direct at 23+ degrees of the Sign Leo on Friday, August 26.  A bare ten days before, He had conjoined the Sun, being transformed from Administrator to Explorer/Ambassador. (For an explanation of what those terms could mean, see the Stealing Apollo’s Cattle post in this blog.)

Or…did He?


I had speculated in that blog post that while Mercury was invisible—hidden from our sight by the light of the Sun—He walks by the side of the King “at court ”, as it were.  What if He never actually leaves court during a particular direct or retrograde phase?  What?? How could that be so!? you might well ask.  It could be so if, during any given phase of His travels, whether direct or retrograde, Mercury never becomes visible!

On August 26th, Mercury turned direct while only 14 degrees 14 minutes of celestial longitude away from the Sun.  Unless you live on the ocean or desert, with an absolutely flat horizon and absolutely no clouds or pre-dawn fog, you might never see Him this time around, except perhaps for a blinking instant.  He was still “under the beams”, as older astrologers say—less than 17 degrees away from the Sun, the Sun too close to be seen except under perfect conditions.

Even though the distance between Mercury and Sun increases for a week after He turns direct (He’s still reeeelly slow, so the Sun appears to move relatively faster). He only gets to about 18 degrees 6 minutes away on September 2nd.  You’ll still have to be really lucky to see Him.

But wait! Can’t Mercury get up to 28 degrees away from the Sun at the extremes of His direct or retrograde phases?  Yes, He can, but He doesn’t always, or even very often.  In none of His cycles will He achieve maximum elongation (that 28 degrees) this year, for instance—although He gets pretty close in November when he stations on Thanksgiving at 25+ degrees away from the Sun.  Unlike Venus, whose cycles are so beautifully, dependably regular in their appearances, timing and distances from the Sun, not all Mercury cycles are created equal.

That damn Trickster!  Oy!  It would seem that we have yet another factor that can influence the dynamics of any given Mercury phase, and that is whether or not He can actually be seen during that phase, be He direct or retrograde.  Older astrological texts are not at all optimistic about the functioning ability of planets that cannot be seen; such planets were felt not to be able to function at their optimal capacity.

What might this mean for you, for us all in the collective?

Possibly that the amount of mental clarity or perspective that can be brought to bear in any given phase of Mercury, be He Explorer or Administrator, direct or retrograde, aspecting other planets or not, powerful or weak by sign placement, depends on whether He gets far enough away from the Sun to be seen.

Think back to this spring’s Explorer cycle, when retrograde-cum-Explorer Mercury got within 8 degrees of maximum possible elongation from the Sun—20+ degrees—before turning direct on March 30.  And what happened as He gathered direct motion speed a month later?

A magnificent wedding celebrated through Mercurial technology around the globe and a successful long-distance (and closely supervised from afar) military operation.

What have we had since August 2? 

A confusion of signals: the failure of the debt ceiling deal to prevent downgrading of the US bond value, the Mercurial market bouncing all over the place, and a plethora of Republican Presidential hopefuls, appearing to see who can whip up the most craziness in the populace and harness it.

And oh yes, a hurricane.

Irene descending on North Carolina Aug 27 2011 WILX-News mobile photo by Robt Travers posted on Facebook

I offer the idea that, with Mercury on such a short “leash”, as it were, our perspective and clarity of thought are in short supply.

Other authors have noted something like this.  The late Robert Blaschke, in his Astrology: A Language of Life, Vol. V – Holographic Transits, writes, “[Michael] Munkasey found that the more difficult retrograde Mercury periods are those that have the…least range of degree travel…”  But while Blaschke is focused on the issue of Mercury’s speed of travel, I am looking (pun intended) at the issue of His visibility.

 Conflicting stories are buzzing around the zeitgeist like radio signal hash during a solar storm and no one can get a clear “vision” of which one is the most likely to play out.  I let my imagination loose seeking ideas of storylines that might arise under this Explorer phase and frankly, the zeitgeist splatted me in the face with a pie.  Here is the picture of what the most recent Sun-Mercury conjunction looked like.  Whoa! Look at the Sun and Venus, hung like a jeweled pendant from the Lion’s neck, with Mercury under the Lion’s paw!  Surely there’s a story here—but which one?

Is it the goodwill (Venus) forged between Androcles (Mercury) and the Lion (Sun in Leo)? 

Is it Oedipus challenged by the Sphinx (Venus and Sun in Leo) to answer a (Mercurial) riddle? 

Is it Sekhmet, ancient Egypt’s lion-headed goddess (Sun and Venus in Leo), whose battle wrath (and potential destruction of the earth) was only averted by craftily (Mercury) getting her drunk?

Is it Dorothy [Venus] admonishing the Cowardly Lion [Sun in Leo] after he menaces Toto [Mercury]? 

Is it the perfection of the beautiful feline hunter (Sun and Venus in Leo) who too often preys on our songbirds (Mercury)?

Is it the anguished decision (Mercury) the haughty royal princess must make in the old fable of The Lady Or The Tiger, where she must decide her former lover’s fate: does she cede him to the jaws of a beast (Sun in Leo) or the arms of a beautiful hated rival (Venus)? 

Is it the protective Foo Lions, guardians at Chinese gates, the male with his paw on the pulse of the world, the female with hers protecting her offspring?

I sense that which of these stories rises to the surface of a culture—and there are more, I’ve only just scratched the surface, I promise you—depends on where in the world you are.  There is no such thing as a specific sky story that will hold true for every place on the globe.  Sekhmet’s energies would seem particularly pertinent to the savage unrest in Libya and Syria—or to the murderous heat wave gripping the south central US.  The financial and political communities in the US would seem to wish to play out the lose-lose dynamic of The Lady or The Tiger.  The destruction of the Mercurial helicopter carrying Navy SEALS responsible for bin Laden’s death seems to echo the feline hunter bringing down birds.

As much as many parts of the body politic seem bent on playing out some of the grimmer stories, is there a way for individuals to seek to manifest Androcles and the Lion, or the Gift of the Lyre, or Dorothy helping the Cowardly Lion?   Both Cayelin Castell of the Shamanic Astrology Mystery School and Bernadette Brady in her Visual Astrology course speak of the time of a planet’s invisibility as it being in an enchanted place whose manifestations are mysterious, not at all straightforward.  You can’t “see” what’s happening.

But might you be able to “hear” it?  After all, “enchant” is derived from an old Latin word—“incantare”—meaning to sing.

Singing might have more to do with Mercury than you might think.  Mercury invented the lyre (a Venusian artistic item), which he gave to his half-brother, Apollo—a solar god associated with music—to soften his anger after the little bugger stole Apollo’s sacred cattle.  Might Mercury, when invisible, be able to function as a sort-of radio transmitter for the songs of the God of Prophecy?  If so the recommended meditation practices, the asking for answers in dreams, the cultivating of quiet stillness that I’ve often heard prescribed as a helpful antidote for Mercury retrograde phases are perhaps more properly applied to the period of His invisibility, so you can “hear” what He has to say…like Pete Townsend did.

“There once was a note, pure and easy / Playing so free like a breath rippling by / The note is eternal, I hear it, it sees me / Forever we blend and forever we die…”

Hey– I been good!

Hey—why me?  I’ve been good!

I said that to my friend and colleague, Margaret Gray, yesterday while bemoaning the transits of our times and the fact that even though I’m doing all the right things, I haven’t lost a pound (and yes I’m working on that) in two months.  Plus the economy is whako and…and… I said—out loud.  Why me?  I mean—I’ve been good.  Actually I was impersonating Bill Cosby impersonating Noah and God.

–Call me intuitive or smart or in touch with the divine, but I just know Noah had to have been born near the constellation Capricornus carrying the story of the Sea Goat–that ever so practical animal in the night sky who would tell the people how to handle hard times like floods and such. Or maybe Noah had some planet in the mid degrees of Taurus and heard a voice from the deep. Maybe Noah was being stared at by the monster from the black lagoon—the leviathan—the whale who ate Jonah—that whale (not Free Willy). That whale called Cetus.   Ahhhhhh maybe that is it.

Is that you, Cetus? Collage C.Johnson 2010

Bernadette Brady describes Cetus in the Starlight Program as:

According to the Greeks, Cetus is the sea monster who was sent to devour Andromeda. Perseus, however, saved her by using the severed head of Medusa which turned the sea monster to stone. But the stories of this whale in the sky seem to predate the Greek version. It has had various forms but it is always some aquatic beast that blows water from a blow hole. Cetus has been illustrated at times with a dog’s head and forelegs and with a mermaid-like tail. It would seem that this creature is more like the fresh water mythic creature the Loch Ness monster than a marine whale in that it represents an unknown beast from the depths rather than what we know as a gentle giant of the sea. Aratus in the 4th century B.C.E., referred to the constellation as: “the hateful Monster Cetus”. And Jobes referred to it as representing a monster “that rises from the dark nether sea with a ravenous appetite for humans”. Christian mythology saw this as the whale that swallowed Jonah, whereas the Arabs broke it into three separate constellations: The Hand, the Ostrich and the Necklace.

The Brightest star is Menkar, the nose or jaw of the whale.

Like all of us, I am trying to figure out how to maneuver through these times and how to assist my clients as the waters appear to be rising (think the new phrase referring to mortgages~ “my house is under water”.)   And these times do indeed call for something akin to the building of an ark.

I mean when you look at the news or the transits — say Pluto squaring Uranus or Saturn squaring Uranus or Pluto opposing Saturn or…take your pick–I feel like Noah being given a job–build an ark!  “Get the animals on board and stay on top of the waters and I ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie sayeth the Lord!”  (well I don’t know if that is biblical but it feels right)

I also identify with Noah’s disbelief that this could be happening–oh say with the economy or with riots or with the clear and present revolutions occurring–and I can feel as Noah did that he was being “put upon” — he was tired and frankly pissed that he has to “do something”.  Remember this one?

Ri-i-ight–this isn’t a shower.  It isn’t even personal.  We are watching the earth and the structures that we might have thought stable tumble and wobble; people that we expected to bring wisdom and sanity scratch their heads in amazement at their inability to do so. And– Like Noah, I protest—hey I’m retired!  I should be able to kick back and enjoy my golden years and not have to think about arks.


Noah says to God—and what about that mess down there in the ark?! Who’s gonna clean that up?   awwwwwww man.

Heading to Starlight to see just what might be happening in the watery part of the heavens, I find Jupiter right smack dab in what Darrelyn Gunzberg has named: The Stare of Cetus.  Hmmmmmm

Awhile ago, Bernadette Brady wrote in the Visual Astrology Newsletter a piece called “Saviors Need Not Apply” . The title alone caught my eye. (and that piece was about Jupiter in the sky stories). I was reminded then of that other eye –the eye of Cetus.  Darrelyn Gunzberg has brought that one to the surface with her eloquent writing and fascinating inquiry into what that whale means for people and “the” people.

She says of Cetus the whale in the April 2008 Visual Astrology Newsletter:

The ram of Aries shares his glory with no one and Cetus the Sea Monster is the unknown beast from the depths which can erupt bearing with it moments of great insight or chaos. When a planet/luminary passes through this area of the sky, then, depending on which planet/luminary that is, whilst it may imply independence or supremacy of an individual or a concept (in Aries, the Ram), it comes at a price, for it is trapped in the stare of the sea monster and there will be hidden issues which sit beneath it.

and more about Cetus in the May2008 VAN

(does Bill Cosby have anything connected to that whale and were those riffs “messages” as only great comedians can impart?)

Well lookie here—Bill Cosby does have the brightest star in the whale in paran with Jupiter. Quoting from the report that Starlight can generate for one’s sky story:

Menkar-The Whale, with Jupiter in Foundation

Feast or famine, the fickleness of life

Menkar is the alpha star of Cetus the whale, and this whale represents the human collective unconscious, that can erupt like a beast from the deep bearing, with equal probability, moments of great collective insight, or chaos and mayhem. Symbolic of these unconscious forces, Menkar’s effect on your life, via its paran to Jupiter, can be difficult. However, the collective unconscious is not always evil or dark, it can also be great and glorious. Jupiter will soften the impact of this star, and indicates that if you follow your intuition and reach for the big picture your success can be based on popular support. This can result in many different expressions. The record breaking and successful sports person, the gifted teacher, or perhaps the lawyer who represents a large collective issue. This really is a stellar combination of feast or famine. If you aim high some of your ideas and plans will definitely become popular, but at other times you will fall from grace. Learn to ride the waves and the valleys. 

And Cetus is staring at the wandering star Uranus in Bill Cosby’s sky story as well. As with many comedians — as with the Jester — the truth get told.  Think the current Jon Stewart show where many of us now go for our news :)–and I’m not kidding.

There is revolution in the air. And Arks to be built. Yup.  But as Noah says:  um….what’s an ark?

Since I’m identifying with Noah today.  This is getting interesting.

Another twist is that in the night sky story’s cast of characters — Jupiter is considered the Crown Prince. That is the part he plays on the silver screen. And as we said above, currently (like right now) Jupiter is “in the stare of Cetus”.  So um…. Speaking of “crown princes” wonder who else in on “ark-duty”.  Note to God:  Call Barack.  Tell him about the ark thing and that there is no compromise.

About an hour ago, I heard about a friend of ours who for the umpteenth time is in hospital–a broken bone–now needing Physical Therapy–(she is in good hands and will be ok)–and–She is Mega Taurus–with Cetus staring at her Moon, Uranus and Venus!!

This woman is amazing—she just takes the pain and inconvenience and suffering and transforms it into smiles and love for all–and I do mean ALL.  She turns what is tough and chaotic into music and gratitude and courage.  Frankly she is quite impressive and a grand example of how to manage that stare from the deep.

Plus she attracts the greats. 

Recently we were all together at Teatro Zinzani’s celebrating Elaine’s 75th birthday and enjoying a grand evening

Elaine, Rhoberta, Claudia and Susan June2011

—seeing her chart, one is not surprised when Joan Baez picks her out of the crowd, walks over, takes her hand and sings to her. (now Elaine will be the first to tell you that that had happened before—with Joan herself at another event–yes–Joan Baez loves Elaine Levine.  It is on a tree somewhere in the forrest.with a heart around it–carved. ).

Good work with that whale, girl.  This song’s for you.

Ok…gang—-let’s go build some ark’s.

PS–Darrelyn recently wrote a very moving piece about Amy Winehouse and her life lived in the stare of Cetus in the July VAN  (You can sign up to receive these newsletters at–well worth it!)

She writes: The eastern horizon 

Additionally, rising in the east and lying above that eastern horizon and along it at the time of her birth was Cetus, the Sea Monster, carrying hidden issues from deep within the collective. Those issues found a ready voice in Winehouse. Lyrics that were intensely autobiographical, a voice that was suffused with gritty realism, the more complicated her personal life became, the more successful she became as an artist.[8]



Lunar Eclipses and Nutsoidness (a technical term)

By Marcia Buchart

It always feels, to me, as if the lunar eclipses are more conducive to feeling nutsoid than the solar eclipses.  In solar eclipses a magical thing happens: at totality, one can look directly at the sun.  In Egyptian and Hellenistic cultures, the Sun was associated with Divinity and Divine Purpose.  Following this line of tradition the Sun, more than Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto or the Nodes, has to do with one’s spiritual purpose, the spark of divinity within.  And when is the best time to get a glimpse of that?  When the Moon, our nearest celestial neighbor, has protected us, when She has shielded our eyes sufficiently that we can gaze upon the Source of our magnificence without damage.  Before the era of satellites and Hubble telescopes, astronomers eagerly awaited eclipses because it was then that they could learn the most about the sun.  In the darkened sky during totality, one can get a visual handle on divine purpose.

It can be quite centering, as I learned when I witnessed my first eclipse in Hawaii in 1991.  I had just abandoned Corporate America and was still quaking within, wondering what in heck I could possibly thinking of, to leave without the pension, the gold watch…but during the trip, gazing on the spectacle above I was spellbound.  I could see solar prominences—93,000,000 miles away!—with my naked eye.  And, upon returning from the trip, I suddenly found myself inwardly centered, still unsure how the rest of my life would unfold, but sure that I had done the right thing.

I married on a solar eclipse (one that occurred only 4 degrees away from where the sun will be when a lunar eclipse occurs on June 15!).  Any electional astrologer would shudder with horror at such a thing, as I was to find out decades later.  However, our marriage is now in its 37th year.  Our first year together was extremely difficult, materially and emotionally, yet it never entered my head to abandon the course on which we had embarked.  Again, I knew not what I was doing, really, or how it would turn out, only that I was somehow on the right path.

Ah, but lunar eclipses…may be very different animals altogether. 

Even though Bernadette Brady’s first book to look at them extensively, The Eagle and the Lark, pairs lunar eclipses with the Saros Series numbers of nearby solar eclipses, she recently told me of an alternate measuring scheme for them.  The first solar eclipse of any Saros series begins near either the north or south pole.  However, while astronomers use this same method for organizing solar eclipse series that astrologers do, they treat lunar eclipses on their own terms.  To astronomers, the first lunar eclipse of a given series begins with a lunar eclipse near the equator.  Think about it: the initiation point of any solar eclipse series begins near an axis, a stable point, an anchor, as it were, around which the earth spins.  But lunar eclipse series, under this definition, begin at a geophysical point of maximum centrifugal force, which, if not withstood by competing forces (Goddess bless gravity), will fling things far and wide into the great beyond. 

Feel flung around a bit? Scattered to the four winds?  Running in circles?  Maybe the centrifugal force of an upcoming lunar eclipse is in play. 

But wait—there’s more! 

 How many of you have watched a lunar eclipse? 

You watch the moon slowly vanish from full to a tiny crescent to “new”, then to a waxing crescent and back to full.  It’s as if a whole month had passed within a single night.  Any month with a lunar eclipse in it has, symbolically, 60 days! 

Feeling that your plate is a bit full?  That all of a sudden there is far too much to accomplish in a standard 24-hour day?  Well, no wonder!  And you thought it was only because Uranus is in Aries…

As I write these words, I am preparing for an anniversary trip which will begin on the day of the lunar eclipse (in which the Sun is close to the degree of our marriage eclipse).  And in the middle of typing this up, the phone rings.  My spouse’s new boss demands that he be in Massachusetts for their first face-to-face the day after we are supposed to return from our vacation.  Since we live in Washington state…okay, quick phone call to the ferry to reschedule our return sailing from Victoria, BC; mad dashing around on his part to get travel arrangements into place; I’ll have to drive him from Anacortes to SeaTac to hop a red-eye for Boston.  Lunacy!

But! not everybody will be dashing to and fro.  The reason this eclipse is affecting us is because the degree affects our marriage chart and both our birth charts.  If you don’t have planets or chart angles in hard aspect to 24 Sagittarius/Gemini, sit back with your popcorn and giggle while you watch the rest of us fly around like bats out of wherever.


The Moon and Sun, in the eclipse chart, are both in paran to Ras Alhague, the head of the Great Healer, that infamous “13th Sign”, Ophiuchus.  If you look at the Starlight map, you’ll see the Moon down near his foot. 

And since these parans are Foundational (they are tied to the IC) a lasting effect of the eclipse may involve a breakthrough in mending things—what things to be mended?  Whatever is relevant to the individual depending on where the eclipse falls in her/his chart.  What houses do the signs Sagittarius and Gemini occupy?  A balance point may be able to be struck that brings order back to one’s life, possibly not before things come apart, so to speak; after all, if you have too many things in the air, how long will it be before at least one goes crunch on the ground?  The solution when the straw breaks the camel’s back is not to blame the camel, but to lighten its load—after you take the poor beast to the vet and get it well again.eclipse camel china

Do you really need to have your own back broken before you say, “No more”?

Here’s Lookin’ at you through Crazy Eyes!

but seriously folks…

Astrology is an ancient and intriguing discipline. I take it very seriously.  One can learn about oneself, the cycles of one’s life, current events, history, cosmology, relationships. We can get all worked up over eclipses, transits and things that go bump in the night.

As an astrologer–it is my job to empower you as you explore possibilities, what to do at certain times or how to look forward and make responsible plans or look back at your life and make meaning out of the past. I think it is the astrologer’s job to offer assistance as you wander through life’s peaks and valleys.  It is also my job (as I see it) to do my homework, work with integrity, study my craft, all the while weaving together the disciplines and research that allow us to experience aliveness, empowerment and an understanding of what it means to be human.

So–this week (upon returning from NORWAC–the Northwest Astrology Conference held in Seattle every year)—I am charged with the rather daunting task of sharing the wisdom I gained while studying my craft –


Question: What is the proper way to begin a conference and serious course of study?

Answer:  by laughing your head off… 

On Friday, Rick Tarnas conducted a seminar titled—The Comic Genius: An Archetypal Perspective

Tarnas on numbers of occasions joins John Cleese for what must be wonderful ways to spend a life!  Tarnas and Cleese at California Institute of Integral Studies

We spent the day watching various clips from Cleese’s Monty Python series and other comedians and entertainers.  We looked at their charts–and frankly in this day and age of rather serious events and transits that indicate a momentous time in our history—-laughing and remembering the healing power of laughter was a gift from the Celestial Comedy Gods.

Tarnas pointed out Mercury and Mars contacts in Cleese’s chart speaking to the notion that the mind takes in information (I’m not quoting him exactly – just from my memory and notes) and then one must defend the ideas. Cleese thrives on the thrust and counter thrust—Tarnas noted that he generally begins his pieces with an argument—a contest.

 Argument Clinic


Cleese also has a T-Square to Uranus and Tarnas points out thatbest humorists—have a high Uranian component”—the trickster (Mercury ) saying that which is taboo (Uranus). Think about some of your Aquarian friends—they are often the ones who at some point in the meeting–point at the elephant in the room with an innocent expression—stopping us in our tracks, so to speak. Tricksters indeed.  

And talk about talking about that which is taboo!  

John Cleese delivered a memorable memorial speech for Graham Chapman at a memorial service held two months later in the Great Hall at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. Cleese delivered a humorous eulogy for his friend Chapman and took advantage of “this glorious opportunity to shock you all on his behalf,” which he then went on to do.

Part of the speech is included below:

Video of Eulogy for Graham

Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch,’ is no more.

He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky.

And I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, for such unusual intelligence, a man who could overcome his alcoholism with such truly admirable single-mindedness, should now so suddenly be spirited away at the age of only forty-eight before he’d achieved many of the things in which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.

Well, I feel that I should say, ‘Nonsense! Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard. I hope he fries.’ And the reason I feel I should say this is he would never forgive me if I didn’t. If I threw away this glorious opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. It’s not a funeral, I grant you, but a memorial service is still pretty good.

It is magnificent, isn’t it? You see, the thing about shock . . . is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realized in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.

Well, Gray can’t do that for us anymore. He’s gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade.
Cheer up—you know what they say:

Always look on the bright side of life…

Tarnas pointed out that great comics have strong Sun / Saturn components in their charts. That is to say that the Sun and Saturn are in some aspect to each other or prominent by house or sign—they are, if you will, in ‘conversation’ and depending on the nature of the relationship it becomes apparent how the comedic archetype takes hold in their manner of delivery.

One example a classic Sun/Saturn comedian is Woody Allen  who also has Jupiter in the mix such that even the expanding universe is cause for worry.

Woody Allen’s chart

 He said among many things:  I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying. 

Colbert at Rally to restore sanity and/or fear 2010

Steven Colbert was born with the Saturn opposing Pluto conjoining Uranus era in 1964. This funny progressive liberal (Uranus) is a trickster cloaked as a conservative Fox News Commentator. He pretends to be the opposite of what he really thinks and says of himself. It is the only way he can stay sane—to laugh. He says if he didn’t – he’d cry. Did you see him at the Correspondent’s Dinner in 2006? Actually the clip watching Bush’s face is equally as interesting as the court jester speaks and shocks and gets away with it as only the court jester can do.  (you can click on the chart for an enlarged image)

Only the best comics (Court Jesters) can pull it off. Tarnas played the clip of Colbert interviewing the head of Ploughshares (an anti-nuclear organization) — the interview itself is a poignant example of the current SaturnUranus-Pluto catastrophe. Colbert begins the interview and with a serious face asks if the head of Ploughshares will “at least admit that a nuclear explosion is awesome”


And I cannot forget my favorite Ernestine aka Lily Tomlin. Able to transform into character after character—the characters are real and have a structured presence as well as that Uranian shock effect. Tomlin was born under the 1939 Saturn Pluto square, has Mercury squaring Uranus and her Virgo Sun opposing Saturn. She can make us laugh at ourselves as she becomes aspects that we often want to hide, but never fail to recognize.

Here she is as Tommy Velour w/ Michael Jackson & Elizabeth Taylor 2009  

And on the Johnny Carson show–she talks about all her characters–Johnny Carson was my dad’s favorite comic.  I’ll bet my dad has some similar planets in his chart–he was one funny guy. (gotta go look)

Spent time today going off on my own for a while, looking at charts of people/friends I think are funny. I am seeing how Mercury and Uranus and Saturnine flavors are present in their charts.  I see how those archetypes come alive when laughter just erupts around the dinner table.

Just think about when you are watching Jon Stewart (I don’t have his chart) or laughing with your friends as you or one of them says something that just has you almost on the floor. It is generally unexpected, taking you over and  — then it begins to take hold and even if you wanted it to end…you just can’t stop——Laughing.

Laughter loosens up the body, the heart and the mind and I’ll bet we can find all kinds of medical reasons for it being a healthy thing to do – and do a lot. One of the people I laugh with on a regular basis is my sister, Peggy. We just think about each other and the jokes start coming. Sister jokes. My favorite kind! Best friend uncontrollable laughter often accompanied with trips down memory lane (Saturn) when something erupted and took over and we had to pull over to the side of the road if driving. Those times make life worth living, the comedic archetype and the astrological signatures worth looking at. A hell of a homework assignment for this student!

In honor of my Gemini sister and Gemini friends with whom I have shared a world of laughter here is a clip from Victor Borge. He was our grandmother Peggy’s favorite comedian—and since my funny sis, Peggy, has a birthday this month, I chose Borge to honor her and our Nanny Peggy. Borge was a Capricorn, a classical musician with his Sun conjoining Uranus, Mercury opposing Neptune.  


Borge famously said: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people”.

Here’s laughin’ with you kids…


Birthday Song performed 2007         Victor Borge

…a word about the Jester

Jester: The fourteenth century was a time of “noble” extravagance. The high courts, surrounded by poverty, encouraged comedy. It was out of this thirst for amusement the Court Jester was born. Some Jesters were dwarves, others were idiots, and most were treated as pets. From these early court “fools” developed the official position of Court Jester. As the position gained recognition, many bright and talented actors stepped into entertain the court with their comedy and satire. Often the satire was political, and many walked a fine line between speaking the thoughts of the people and offending their masters.

The Jester’s costume was called a “Motley,” receiving its name from the dyed multicolored wool from which it was made. The costumes differed with the imagination of each Jester, but essential ingredients were often part of the clothing. Triangular hemlines were seen with arrays of bells hung all around. Headgear became popular in the shape of a conical cap featuring donkey’s ears, a cock’s comb, or woven triangles with bells. These hats were the early prototypes of many hats worn by clowns today. Jesters grew in popularity and soon became a necessary part of every nobleman’s court. Henry VIII’s best friend was said to be his Jester.

Richard Tarleton, a famous Jester of British history, was known to keep Queen Elizabeth in stitches. The relationship between Jester and royalty allowed freedom of opinion (guised in whit) shared by few. The Jester’s place in the history of the clown is one of courage and sacrifice. As a forerunner of public opinion and a friend to kings he is immortalized forever a major contributor to court and clown.

Spring, Almost

The month of April from Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry 1410

Spring, Almost

The sunshine gleams so bright and warm,
The sky is blue and clear.
I run outdoors without a coat,
And spring is almost here.
Then before I know it,
Small clouds have blown together,
Till the sun just can’t get through them,
And again, it’s mitten weather.
— Unknown

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