On Monday, May 14, 2012, it began…a grand, extended spectacle of high astrological drama set against the stars of the Great Bull of Heaven.  Venus stationed retrograde in the tropical sign of Gemini while also conjoining El Nath, the tip of the Great Bull’s North Horn.

 She formally turned retrograde the next day — Tuesday morningThis is just one of the actions that forms a prelude to the Venus Transit—Venus actually moving across the solar disc—on Jun 5th, 2012.

This whole series of events is a mammoth sequence of conjunctions—Venus with the Pleiades, Venus with El Nath, Sun with Jupiter, the solar eclipse of May 20TH, Jupiter with Mercury, Mercury with the Sun (where He sheds His worn-out Explorer’s leathers for His Administrative robes , Mercury with Venus, Venus with the Sun, Venus turning away from a conjunction with Jupiter, Venus with Aldebaran, Venus with Chi1 Orionis [the business end of Orion’s club]. 

         OMG, this whole sequence will last until August 6! 

There seem to be so many energies mixing it up, it’s like being in a multiplex  with about a dozen movies playing.

Fox Theater Marquee, Detroit MI-from artistmac’s photostream

  But these movies all have a common backstory featured somewhere in their plot lines: that of The Great Bull. 

There are observers who find this potentially menacing, especially cringing to see Venus on the point of the Horn.  We remember Queen Pasiphae (pronounced Pa-siph-ah-ee) of Crete, smitten by an angry Poseidon with lust for the bull her royal husband, King Minos, reneged on his promise to sacrifice;their union produced the monster, the Minotaur.

 And Minos himself was a son of Zeus by Europa, whom Zeus abducted and bore off to Crete while in disguise as—you guessed it—a bull.


Painting by Guy Ottewell

But it’s important to remember that Venus is in the process of preparing to make Her inferior conjunction to the Sun to begin a new storyline—the “Gemini Journey”, as astrologer, Adam Gainsburg would call it.  And Adam’s read on the possibility for dramatic change in the way we live our Inner Feminine in the outer world is inspiring.

NOTE: You can click here to listen his Podcast on-The 2012 Venus Transit at his site:  and we highly recommend this great video Adam made of the Venus Transit on Vimeo–it is stunning.

So: in that spirit, let’s imagine Venus taking the Bull by the horns—and perhaps even enjoying the wild ride! 

Which brings up the next point: is it possible that, with all these beginnings—symbolized by the succession of conjunctions—that there’s a way to view the whole scenario that doesn’t automatically spell death, doom and destruction? 

What if…instead of being caught up in a bullfight

 we’re caught up a dance?

We can take a hint from ancient Crete’s bull worship, which involved grabbing the horns, somersaulting over animal’s head (aided by its natural reflex effort to toss you off), landing on its back–and then sticking your dismount.

Hey, Venus is already showing us the way!  Dangerous?  Certainly.  Thrilling?  Yes!  Inevitably fatal?  No.

Don’t forget there are another couple of “bull dancers” up there as well: Mercury and Jupiter. 

Say what? How are they possibly bull dancers?  Heh!

Ever seen footage of a rodeo?

Bull riding is a major event where the point is not to kill or be killed, but to stay on the animal’s back longer than your competitors.  Jupiter, hovering around the Bull’s shoulders and back all spring, certainly seems determined to stay on as long as He can. 

Yippee Kiyay! Ride ’em Zeus!  

He is aided and abetted by His faithful rodeo clown, Mercury  whose main job is to distract the bull after the rider (inevitably) falls off.  The rodeo clowns have arguably the most dangerous job in the sport.  (Mercury a daring hero?  Who knew?)

So come to the multiplex with us as we peek into each theater over the coming weeks to check out all the storylines in play. 

Bring your popcorn.  With the butter .



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…”

A Tale of Two Mercuries by Marcia Buchart

On August 2 Mercury, which had been at a virtual standstill for nearly a week, turned retrograde—just as the U.S. legislative arm finally agreed on a deal about raising the debt ceiling.  If you remember the Apollo’s Cattle post of May 1 2011, I dubbed a Mercury which is direct and has hurried ahead of the Sun in celestial longitude Governmental Mercury.  And what a time we’ve had in the U.S. with that Mercury!

On June 25 Mercury emerged from “under the beams” of the Sun (the King) and everyone has watched, somewhat slack-jawed, the knock-down, drag-out fight in the Congress over the debt-ceiling-budget brouhaha.  Even though an agreement of sorts seems to have been hammered out, commentators are unsure how, exactly, to evaluate it: is it a real agreement?  What really happened here?  Does it mean anything?  Who was betrayed?  Who won? Etc., etc., etc.  Not surprising, according to Rick Levine and Jeff Jawer, since as He stations, Mercury is opposing Neptune, which some astrologers feel will make the issues much harder to reach clarity on (see for Jeff & Rick’s lecture held in Redmond WA).

This would seem to be Governmental Mercury Behaving Badly with a vengeance.  But if, as I argued in the earlier post, such a Mercury is essentially carrying out the King’s policy, what the heck was going on?

Let’s see if we can unpack this.

Although Mercury is only one planet, He behaves almost like two, depending on whether He’s a morning star (explorer) or evening star (governmental).  So does Venus, in astrological legend (particularly Meso-American); She shares, with Mercury, a common pattern of visibility, one very different from the Moon and the planets from Mars on out.  All the planets from Mars on out always make their first appearance after a conjunction with the Sun in the morning, visible before the dawn; the Moon, after Her conjunction always makes her first appearance in the evening, just after sunset.  What does Mercury do?  After a conjunction with the Sun, Mercury appears (when retrograde) in the morning—before dawn; then He stops, turns direct, re-conjoins the Sun and appears in the evening—after sunset; then he speeds ahead of the Sun, then stops, turns retrograde, and heads back for the next conjunction with the Sun.  He and Venus seesaw back and forth in this pattern from a visual perspective.

Well, that’s cool, you say, but what does it have to do with anything?

Simply this: the way Mercury—or any planet—behaves in the different phases of any given cycle is possibly formed by the energies in play when it last conjoined the Sun.  You can pick up hints of this philosophy when reading interpretive ideas about the Moon’s phases; the Zodiac sign in which they conjoined (the New Moon) is felt to color the whole monthly cycle.  Current astrological literature extrapolates this idea to all planetary cycles vis-à-vis each other.  For instance, the transiting Uranus-Pluto square is sometimes interpreted with reference back to the sign in which they last conjoined—Virgo—to begin their current cycle.

So: following this line of reasoning, the Mercurial hornet’s nest we’ve been dumbfounded to witness has not all that much to do with Mercury turning retrograde on August 2.  It has its roots in the energies in play during Mercury’s most recent conjunction with the Sun, which took place on June 12 at 21° Gemini 39′.

Look at the horoscope for that conjunction, set for Washington D.C: 

  • The first startling thing about this conjunction is that it doesn’t make any aspects to any other planets!  It’s operating all by itself.  Whatever transpires between the Executive and Legislative/Judicial branches feels unconnected to anything else going on and no one else can really get in effective input.  Most importantly, it isn’t connected to the Moon, the heavenly body who symbolizes the common populace in a “mundane” chart.
  • The next thing to notice is that Mercury is in Gemini, a sign He rules.  This makes Mercury powerful.  Since Mercury has more power than the Sun in Gemini, this perhaps says that the arms of the government other than executive are going to be the ones forcing policy, not the other way around.
  • The next rather delightful tidbit gave me my “Aha!” moment about the conjunction: if you could have seen it in the sky, the Sun and Mercury lay smack in between the Horns in the constellation of the Great Bull of Heaven.
Sun and Mercury in the horns of the bull (using Starlight
  •   A charging bull, at that!


  • All kinds of images spring to mind, don’t they?  “On the horns of a dilemma”…”taking the bull by the horns”…”between a rock and a hard place”…”when the rock falls on the egg, alas for the egg, but! if the egg falls on the rock, alas for the egg”…okay, I’ll stop.No wonder there was such a fight, especially since by July 21 Mars —always spoiling for a fight—had moved forward to the degree of the Sun-Mercury conjunction.  And Mars’ scrappy presence (“Words are weapons / Sharper than knives / Makes you wonder how the other half died”) was only intensifying…
  • …the final thing, which is exceedingly subtle (and probably only “visible” to an astrology wonk (a technical term)—guilty as charged).  The degree of this conjunction has a special relationship with the degree of the July 1 “mass molt” solar eclipse, called an antiscial relationship.  Antiscia, also known as solstice points, are like ‘mirror degrees’ arranged around the 0 Cancer-0 Capricorn solstice axis of the zodiac.  Planets in antiscial degrees don’t function as direct aspects tend to; they are not “interacting” with each other.  They more often resonate to each other, as a crystal goblet will “sing” when a note is played that matches the harmonic frequency in the glass.

 So when the eclipse occurred on the solstice point of the Sun-Mercury conjunction, and Mars joined the party three weeks later, the heat was on: molt (raise the debt ceiling) or die.

Now, Governmental Mercury is heading (staggering?) back to the King.  It will be really interesting to see what happens on August 16, 2011, when the Sun and Mercury conjoin again at 23° Leo 49′.  Because now, the Sun—who rules Leo—will have the upper hand.

Stay tuned…and be in touch  

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

Heads up–there is a Taurus in your chart

It is May isn’t it?

I was all ready to go out tonight hoping to spot some delicious night sky stories taking place right here on the Oregon coast–but alas–the fog has rolled in and I doubt I’ll see much tonight.  BUT— I can maybe–just maybe see the moon near Saturn who has and will be walking along side the Goddess of the Harvest-the maiden (also called Virgo after the zodiacal sign). And I wanted to see Spica–the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.  She is located in the wheat sheaf that the Goddess holds in her left hand and is the gift of bounty and food and good things.

It has been said that when the Moon is under a star or a planet visually, that star or planet is honored and supported in its appointed task.  Spica is honored–bounty is supported tonight.

–Bernadette Brady speaks about Spica in her epic work (The Fixed Stars) regarding the earliest meanings with the stars and the night sky.

She says:

 Spica:  A gift, being gifted
	As the star is seen as the wheat sheaf in the hand of the goddess, Spica was
 considered a symbol of her gifts to humankind. These gifts were originally of harvest
 and bountifulness. The wheat sheaf, therefore, symbolised human knowledge of
 cultivation, a gift from the goddess. In present times this type of knowledge is not
 venerated, so if Virgo was created in the 20th century, she might well be holding a
 silicon chip. Spica, the wheat sheaf, is the symbol of knowledge and insights which
 are respected. Spica is, therefore, not connected with any particular field or
 profession but rather shows the potential for brilliance in whatever it touches in your
	Spica is a gift of brilliance, a hidden or obvious talent, skill or ability which is out of
 the ordinary. The word 'gifted' applies to strong Spica people and whatever this star
 touches, it will illuminate in some way. With Spica in your chart, consider the planet
 with which it is involved as this planet will indicate the style of the brilliance or gift
 that Spica holds in your chart.
 (by the way--we will find out in August if you have Spica prominent in your story.)

I’m taking this as a sign that the birthday party for some fine Taurus folks tomorrow will be supported and lovely.  Oh and that there are gifts available perhaps in the news as well?  It could happen!  Some gift of good news — I’ll bet the priest/astrologer would be telling the Ruler that there are presents under the tree for him or her these days.  She has only to look.  And with Saturn in the arms of the beautiful gift giver–the Goddess of the Harvest, the gifts will be delicious and gratefully received in a structured manner–like a birthday party.

There are other things happening in May that are of note–say for example a lineup of planets that hasn’t happened for 30 years and won’t happen again for another 32 years.  Yes–right here in the merry month of May, Mercury, Venus, Mars and recently Jupiter have been having a little conference of their own in the sign Aries and by the end of the month they will all be in Taurus.  Not only that–but this confab is very very important–it carries messages and paradigms and inventions and revelations from unseen places.  Cetus the whale (the monster–not the friendly whale that the children rescue)–this image requires us to address that which is dark and deep and important and could alter reality and he is staring (or glaring?) at these planets who have gathered at this time in our history.  

There are messages to listen for and we can almost ‘feel’ or hear these planets asking for our attention  — they are the inner planets (Venus, Mars, Mercury). They are not the big guys like Neptune, Uranus or Pluto.  These are more familiar players on our stage.  They are ‘closer’ to us and it would behoove us to turn our good ear upward especially in the early morning hours which is when they will be rising.

If you look to your chart and find the houses with Aries and Taurus on the cusps–that is where you want to take advantage of this moment.  If, say, you have Taurus on the 7th house–then those planets are going to move into that house and you will — no kidding — want to “carpe diem”–yep seize the time to provide comfort and beauty and strength in all your relationships…all of them — including your relationship with yourself.  Find the folks with whom you feel your best–in whose presence you are admired and respected.  And do this intentionally in May.  The lusty month of May.  You will want to stand in that bullish strength for a long long time.

The same holds true for whatever house these personal planets will be visiting in your charts in May.  Seize the time and strengthen your life in those areas like you are the Bull.  Like you ARE big and powerful and were once worshipped as a God.  Astrology is good for this—for allowing us to be aware of when it is a good time to grab the golden ring of meaning and stand tall in the mere knowledge that perhaps, if you are conscious, you can declare into existence something that was not there before. Something good— hey something good just might come of it.

In the foggy night–here is a great little movie for the starry skies in May.  You’ll see some of what I’m talking about as you watch and listen pretending to be outside all warm and enchanted by the show on the big silver screen.

Happy Birthday Taureans!

…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.

Stealing Apollo’s Cattle & Other Fun Games to Play With Mercury

by Marcia Buchart

Ahh, Mercury:  too often the forgotten planet, except for the three times a year when he goes retrograde.  And at those times you hear the familiar buzz that reveals, not what a problem this phenomenon is, but what a problem we think it is: “…you are well-advised to delay signing a contract or launching a joint venture…Any word beginning with the word “re” applies:…revise, reconsider, recondition, review, repair, repossess.  Mechanical items break down…Carry spare parts on a road trip…Allow extra time at airports.  When shopping, keep receipts and be prepared to return your purchases.”  This kind of counsel appears to make perfect sense when we look at how the retrograde phase pattern appears in a horoscope.  You can, from this perspective, see Mercury do his back-and-forth dance vis-à-vis the Sun

Zone of Retrogradation Mercury Mountain Astrologer AprMay2011

But is this double-checking protocol the only way live out Mercury’s dance?

Another viewpoint is suggested in Howard Sasportas’s retelling of the story of how the infant Hermes (the Greek name for Mercury) stole his brother Apollo’s cattle by getting them to walk backwards in their own hoofprints, thus masking where they’d gone. 

When young Mercury revealed the trick, Zeus, his Dad was so delighted with His yet-unacknowledged son’s cleverness that he ordered Apollo to forgive his half-brother (Mercury made it easier by giving Apollo the lyre he had fashioned from a tortoise’s shell).

So: might the retrograde phase be a time when it is possible to cleverly arrange things behind the scenes?

Might one even occasionally discover that one has done things backwards, only to discover that whatever had been done actually worked?

Hmmm…if you were born under a retrograde Mercury, maybe this is a major talent!

And there is yet another way to (literally!) view Mercury’s retrograde cycle: put your charts away, put on your ancient Mesopotamian glasses, go out and look up.

Mercury is never far from the Sun and so is not easily seen; like Venus, his appearances in the sky are as morning star or evening star only; unlike Mars, he can never rise in the east, culminate overhead and set in the west.    Here is: May 1, 2011 Mercury rising before the Sun (note we use Bernadette Brady’s Starlight Program for these images)

But he represented an important Babylonian deity, Nebo (or Nabu) the Scribe of the King.

And as you watch him in the sky, you see him either advancing before the King (Sun) before dawn, following after the King (Sun) after sunset, or hanging at court with the King (when he’s invisible).   How might this visual information be used to interpret how Mercury functions in the various parts of his cycle?

Ambassador / Explorer – this is Mercury as a morning star; he rises ahead of the Sun, and has a lower degree of zodiacal longitude than the Sun.  It is as if the King said, “go out and explore / journey to this country / whatever, and report back to me what you find.”  Sometimes this kind of Mercury, in the absence of any orders, will just go out and see what can be found, sort of like Marco Polo or the Starship Enterprise.  This kind of Mercury can get into all sorts of scrapes and has to operate by his wits, often with no direct orders from “home” to guide him, and may develop a good sense of what to do and not do as a result.   When morning star Mercury is retrograde, he’s voyaging forth; when he’s in direct motion he’s heading back to court with everything he’s learned and obtained on the journey.  We are in just such a phase right now. Watch this little video of Mercury heading back to court with everything he has learned and showing the current phase for Mercury:

Prime Minister / Legislator – this is Mercury as an evening star; he sets after the Sun and has a higher degree of zodiacal longitude than the Sun.  In this case, one can imagine that the King has dispensed policy and this kind of Mercury carries it out: gathers needed information and sees that orders are executed in accordance with the royal Will.  These Mercuries operate like the branches of government; their efforts are much more under the direction of the Will than the Explorer Mercury.  The great thing about Mercury in this phase is that once one decides to accomplish a goal, one can bring all one’s mental efforts to bear on it.  When evening star Mercury is in direct motion, he is carrying out orders; when he’s in retrograde motion, he’s bringing “additional info” back to the King, to report on the success of the effort.

King’s Councilor / Jester – this is invisible Mercury, too close to the Sun to be seen.  This is like the councilor at the king’s side as He moves through His court, conferring with Him and giving his assessments into the King’s ear; he might also be the Jester who can get away with lampooning the King as long as He does so in His presence.  In this phase one might be able to be a very successful “power beside the throne” and wield a great deal of power as a result.  This ability to work closely and well with authority is an additional plus; when Mercury is in this phase, people in power will listen to you!

And the next time you read the astrological press fulminating over the perils of the next Mercury retrograde cycle, try taking another look.

In response to Susan’s comment~

If you have your own chart, you can look for yourself at your Mercury-Sun placement.

1. If your Mercury is in a lower degree of zodiac longitude than your Sun (my Mercury is at 3 Capricorn, my Sun at 26 Capricorn) or is in the sign preceding the Sun, AND is at least 15 degrees away from the Sun, you have Explorer Mercury.

2. If your Mercury is in a higher degree of zodiac longitude than your Sun (imagine that the positions of the Sun and Mercury from the earlier example are reversed) you have a Governmental Mercury.

3. BUT–if in either position, your Mercury is less than 8 degrees away from your Sun, your Mercury is Invisible.   

Where is your Mercury?

Mercury sits directly down

Mercury--go sit down!

Has your boat been rocking for the past few weeks?  Go ahead blame Mercury Retrograde.  He can handle it–but just for the record–he’s had help.

Look at who is in the boat with Mercury: Yup—Uranus, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and just recently, the Sun.


We’re in a boat in choppy waters and Mercury is just running backwards, dancing, yelling stuff at the captain.  Wrecking havoc it seemed to me.

Let’s just look for a moment at Himself-that winged messenger.

Mercury from Raphael's Manual of Astrology 1828
Mercury from Raphael's Manual of Astrology 1828

Perhaps not shooting the messenger and listening now that the winds have died down just a little bit might be useful.

It is said that when Mercury goes retrograde (appears to be moving backwards from earthlings point of view) that one needs to put the prefix “re” in front of everything—review, revise, rethink, reverse, renew, re-whatever. And Mercury goes retrograde about 3 times a year for about 3 weeks at a time. He turned around on March 30th and then just today he stopped and is now facing forward—ready to move in a forward direction. Hooray, I say. This genius has played tricks on me and mine for the last 3 weeks and I’m ready to move on.

There are some pretty great stories about this Mercury guy—he was called Hermes in Greek mythology.

Erin Sullivan writes about Mercury/Hermes in her book Retrograde Planets, Traversing the Inner Landscape:

In the Homeric Hymns we read of the birth of Hermes: ‘He was born at dawn, by midday he was playing the lyre, and in the evening he stole the cattle of far-shooting Apollo.” This show him to be a trickster par excellence, as well as having great charm: to make and play the lyre he inveigled a tortoise out of its own shell. The story when that Hermes, restless after his birth, set off in search of the cattle of his brother Apollo, and en route happened upon a tortoise. When great charm he told the hapless tortoise he would make a good dinner companion indeed he did, because Hermes promptly ate him for dinner! Hermes also promised the tortoise that he would make beautiful music when he was dead. The tortoise’s shell was to become the prototype lyre which Hermes eventually gave to Apollo to appease him for the theft of the cattle.
This cattle theft has a most remarkable aspect. Hermes ‘made their hoofs go backward, the front one last and the back ones first; he himself walked straight ahead.’ This is the literary origin of the dualistic path and deceptive brilliance of Hermes the Trickster, and the first hint of his retrograde characteristic. Only minutes before, he had been happily playing his new lyre, but ‘his heart was set on other pursuits’. Versatile, wily, double-edged Hermes, doing one thing while planning another. The hiding of the cattle in the case of the Sun god Apollo is an apt metaphor for the retrogression of Mercury as it trots ‘back’ towards the Sun hiding from Earth view, only to re-emerge later as the redeemed morning star. (p.46)

In the night sky stories Mercury is the messenger—he often has the “ear of the King”.  There are 8 million stories in the naked city :).

Look at where this boat ride has been rocking in your life (what house are Mercury and company jumping around in?). That is where Mercury has been telling the captain to wait, whoa, look back, we’re being followed—terrible things just might happen!

(Mercury is now at 12 degree Aries  – find where that would land in your chart)

Wherever Mercury is transiting your chart is where you have probably noticed yourself chewing gum and walking at the same time while trying to concentrate. You may have been a bit more on edge, or perhaps confronted by something or someone. You may have been busier than usual in that area of your life, perhaps finding broken things — things that require your attention and aren’t what you had in mind for that day.   Saturn has been on the other side of the issues (Saturn is opposing all that Aries activity) trying to keep order, drawing lines in the sand and either having you feel like you have to be the adult or someone is “out-adulting” you.  Jesh.

This boat has been rocking and rolling through the 4th house of my natal chart. The area of life having to do with home, real estate, roots, my core, where I hang my hat. So–Among other things, there is a new leak in the sunroom, the heater broke. We are going to meetings for emergency preparedness after the sirens went off here at the coast. Home and security and land being threatened—fear abounding. It has felt like I “lost my footing”. We are re-viewing lists of things one will need to remember in a crisis. All of that.

Quoting Erin Sullivan again:

“Mercury acts as an agent for recollection –anamnesis—and for the curing of the soul through illumination. Any information, event, fact or awareness that Mercury surfaces with in the course of the retrograde cycle is completely within character and totally relevant to the needs of the individual. In this way, Mercury acts as a civilizing agent. “(p.54).

As I am writing, I am seeing in retrospect, that the guy yelling and waving his arms at the captain and rocking the boat is pointing at exactly what I need to address—fear itself. Ah, I see.

Can’t beat that line—nope—we have nothing to fear but fear itself? Thanks Franklin.

What lessons might you have gleaned from this period of review?

Head on over to this post by Theresa Jordan. Helped me get all this.She is a fine fine writer: this post is called Choosing our Battles

Whatever you say you have learned will, I assure you, serve you well as the boat goes forward.

Hermes is also known as a soul guide. I think I’m going to look for a harp – oh wait—there is one in the heavens called Lyre. Guess I’m moving forward.


Back soon with a harp a song and perhaps something about the star Vega.

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