Animalia Stellarum ~ Aries the Ram

Divination and Dreams

I

t is spring time here in the Northern Hemisphere and with both the Equinox and Easter right around the corner my social media feeds are filled with charming pastoral scenes of chicks and rabbits and lambs…but the mighty ram is there too just waiting for its moment.

Luckily the wait is over! Join us in getting to know the one and only Aries.

Aries is the 1st sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the beginning of the Astrological New Year. This sign is attuned to the element of Fire, and is a cardinal sign. The Sun is in Aries from March 20th (Vernal/Autumnal Equinox) through April 19th. Cardinal signs always represent leadership and the purest expression of certain virtues; for Aries and all of the Fire signs this is symbolized by its arrival at the turning of the Equinox where Winter finally and officially gives way to Spring (in the Northern hemisphere) and Summer gives way to Autumn (in the Southern). Represented by the Ram and specifically the Ram bearing the golden fleece who was both hero and sacrificial victim, Aries combines bravery and adventure with a desire to protect, as well as a powerful will. Aries is fun loving, courageous, and at its best willing to not only protect, but lay its life on the line in service to others.

Ram as Aries: By Briana Saussy

AriesAlthough the sign Aries is ruled by the planet Mars and often associated with the Greek God of War by the same name, Aries is not all war making, weapon swinging, and bluster.

In fact, the constellation Aries has less to do with war and a martial aspect and much more to do with daring rescue attempts, sacrifices, and the ancient and deeply honored work of the Shepherd. Before we get to that though, let’s take a moment to see how truly old this story is.

Like many of our other constellations, Aries and its association with the Ram is very old but before Aries was the Ram itself, it was a Shepherd.

This was true for the Babylonians who recognized the same cluster of stars forming our modern Aries constellation and referred to it as “The Agrarian Worker” or the “Hired Man” as well as for the Egyptians who associated the constellation with the great God Amon-Ra, a male figure depicted with a Ram’s head.

In our less agrarian place and time it might be difficult to recognize how essential shepherds were to the community but they were, and they still are.

Shepherds and others who took on the role of cultivating, domesticating and protecting live stock from natural predators exerted a strong civilizing influence on early societies. Paradoxically, Shepherds themselves are often depicted as only part tame and part wild – it does take a special kind of soul to be outside 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all kinds of weather accompanied only by the animals he is charged with caring for. For these reasons, the figures in both Babylon and Egypt associated with Aries are also associated with fertility, protection, and the running current of the life force itself.

It is in the image of the Shepherd that we find our first real glimpse into some of the defining characteristics of the zodiac sign Aries, specifically we find that Aries is associated with a strong protective impulse. This can at first be surprising because typically Aries is seen as martial and more and more the martial and the protective have been separated in common culture. But the truth is more complicated and often the individuals who are most likely to be heroes are motivated by a desire to assist and help those who cannot help themselves, as well as to protect the weak and innocent. Aries, like its opposing sign Libra, is more concerned with justice than many people think.

By the time the ancient Greeks were spinning their stories with the stars the role of the Shepherd was taken over by that of the Ram, but it wasn’t any Ram; it was the Ram of the legendary golden fleece that Jason of the Argonauts would later pursue and steal with the aid of his witch wife Medea.

AriesThe story begins with a curse. There was an evil stepmother who was envious of her husband’s two first born children – a young girl and a young boy. She cursed the land where the family lived with a great famine so that everyone was hungry and then created a false oracle from the Oracle at Delphi, claiming that the only way to break the curse was for the King, her husband, to kill his son.

This part of the tale clues us in to one of Aries’ weak points – an easily inflated ego that wishes to “kill” off any psychic offspring that might also have a share of power, and a tendency towards envy when all is not as it should be.

The King was indeed ready to sacrifice his son and in a story that sounds eerily familiar to those raised in any Biblical traditions, he was at the point of spilling his son’s blood when a magical Ram appeared.

This aspect of the story speaks to another potential weak point of Aries – leaping before looking or proceeding straight ahead without having all of the information.

The Ram of the Golden Fleece appeared in order to rescue the boy and his sister after being asked to do so by the swift-footed God of the crossroads, Hermes (Mercury in Roman times). The sacrifice of an innocent child was stopped and both the young girl and young boy got on the back of the ram who then flew through the sky.

Here we see one of the most positive aspects of Aries, for this is the sign for whom the concept of “impossible” is not real or relevant. Rams flying across the sky and over the ocean? Something that’s never been done or even attempted before? Aries is not only interested in what others consider mere fantasy, it is bound and determined to defy a narrow concept of reality and bring the impossible to life.

During the flight the young girl tumbled to her death but the young boy made it safely into the mysterious and magical land of Colchis. Once he arrived he sacrificed the Ram of the Golden Fleece as a thanks offering to Zeus (under instruction from Hermes to do so) and then offered the Golden Fleece to the local King who in turn gave him his daughter to wed.

Several more essential qualities of Aries come out at this point in the tale. The first is that Aries, though a cardinal sign, has more of a liminal quality to it than is often understood. The obviously liminal signs like Scorpio or say, Pisces, have their own otherworldly presence but Aries does too – especially in terms of physicality and the body. There is an intuitive understanding of body and the ways that the physical body can be worked with to achieve great feats that is particular to Aries.

We also see clearly in this part of the tale Aries’ willingness to sacrifice itself for the greater good. Many modern astrologers talk about the “selfishness” of Aries and miss out on the obvious fact that the opposite is also quite true: this sign can engage in acts of utter selflessness when the situation requires it.

Finally we see the dance between risk and reward that is also a deep part of Aries story; here is a young boy who is about to be sacrificed only to go on a great (and terrifying) adventure, wherein he loses his sister, loses the one animal companion he has, and gains a wife and a crown. Another intuitive aspect of Aries is their understanding that without risk there can be no real reward.

The golden fleece was placed in a holy shrine and, as mentioned above, its story continues long after this cast of characters were deep in the earth. This speaks to yet another quality of Aries. As the first sign of the zodiac, the Ram is concerned with impressions – making them and leaving them. Given the central role that the Golden Fleece plays in some of the most beloved epic stories from antiquity, I would say that our Ram accomplished exactly that.

Ram As Animal: By Sara Magnson

AriesThe Ram is a mighty and peculiar creature.

For all the power and force associated with these animals, though, it’s easy to forget that

Rams are Sheep.

This is important to note because the word Sheep has developed a negative connotation in colloquial speech, meaning someone who is a mindless follower; however, as we have seen from the mythology and astrology, Aries the Ram is anything but. How and why do we perceive the Ram as somehow different from the Sheep? First, let’s look at what all Sheep have in common.

The physical form of Sheep is nimble, agile, and sure-footed. They trust the ability of their unlikely bodies, with thick torsos and spindly legs, to jump and maintain balance when other creatures would doubt themselves. They see in color, have excellent peripheral vision, and Bighorn Sheep in particular (a different species than typical “farm Sheep”) have excellent depth perception, which allows them to literally see and take chances that others may not.

As a prey animal, all Sheep have incredibly good senses of hearing and smell. Taste is also an important sensory aspect and, as herbivores, grazers, and foragers, Sheep exhibit clear preferences toward different foods. As ruminant animals, their four-chambered stomachs are built to extract a high amount of nutrients from their plant-based diets.

Sheep are inquisitive animals and, like the sign of Aries, have the ability to discover and seize opportunity in seemingly impossible situations. We can also all take a cue from Sheep’s highly efficient digestive system to be very deliberate when working with the things that fuel us, making sure we’re getting all we can out of them.

The skin and fleece of Sheep have been revered for ages – hides and wool to create objects from the practical and mundane to the magnificent and magical. When thinking of Sheep’s hide, remember that skin is considered an organ and is, in fact, the largest organ of the body. Protecting all the delicate things inside, skin is essentially a huge sensor packed with nerves and keeps our brain in touch with the outside world. The majestic fleece of Sheep, like our own hair, is directly connected to their skin and provides an intense sensitivity, as well as protection from the elements, allowing them to thrive in diverse climates and environments. It is this protective and armor-like quality of Sheep’s fleece that contributes to its many magical qualities.

Socially, Sheep desire order and prefer a defined structure, establishing who is in charge and how each member of their social group falls in rank. They are gregarious and form strong, close, relationship sub-groups within their flock.

AriesSheep are more intelligent and sensitive than we often think, having a good memory and the ability to differentiate facial expressions and the emotional states of other animals, including humans.

Sheep are also very good at hiding any injury or sickness so as not appear weak, which can be good for avoiding predators looking for an easy meal.

These social traits are exhibited in the influence of the sign of Aries in many ways. There is the desire for order and structure; the ability to see more than others think you do, and definitely more than you let on; and the tendency to hide weakness when you could be asking for help. As previously mentioned, Sheep are inquisitive animals and, no matter the current interpretation of the word, can be brave and courageous. They are willing to break through barriers (literally and figuratively) and face uncharted territory to seek a better life.

Sheep have a long history with humans, being one of the earliest animals to be domesticated, and, as we have learned, there is an entire vocation dedicated to caring for Sheep. The word “Shepherd” derives plainly from Old English – shep/sheep and herd, literally someone who watches over the Sheep. These animals provide us with food in the form of meat and milk (and cheese, my favorite!), and hide, sinew, and fleece for clothing and comfort.

To talk specifically about the Ram, versus Sheep in general, we must discuss some topics of gender and gender roles because Rams are biologically the males of the species. This is also the area where we discover why we perceive the Ram as somehow different from Sheep.

First of all, it is the Rams who possess the magnificent horns. Ewes of different breeds can have horns, but they are much smaller. Without getting into a separate discussion on the various ways gender may be expressed in animals, let us talk about how it is most commonly expressed in Sheep. The males have bigger horns because they are the protectors of the flock and they use them to intimidate and to fight. Horns are impressive structures, no matter what animal they come from or if they are male or the female. The horns of Rams in particular are in the shape of the Sacred Spiral, adding even more depth to their magical associations. They are borne directly from the head, just as our hair grows, and indicate potent creativity and mental acuity.

When we examine the Ram associated with Aries and the mythology surrounding it all, it is very male-centered. Aries is identified with typically male traits – the Sun, war, aggressiveness, etc. In the tale of the Golden Fleece, it is the brother who survives and his sister is the one who doesn’t make it to the end. In reality, it is the females of the species Ovis who have unfortunately inspired the suggestion that “sheep” means mindless follower and it is the males, the Ram, that evokes power, agility, and intellectual fortitude. I argue, however, the nature of Aries and the Ram affects all of us, male or female.

I am a straight, cis-gender woman and I am an Aries. I am not on the cusp of anything and am in the dead center of Aries. I can tell you from forty years of personal life experience that the typically-male-leaning undertones of Aries the Ram are something I am constantly working to balance within myself. Like it or not, we all exhibit both male and female tendencies, ways of thinking, emotions, actions, etc., and we are all working to balance and discern those with what our society tells us and demands of us. We all have a strong, powerful Ram within us and we also all have delicate parts, and everything in between.

The Ram of Aries asks us to find that aspect of ourselves that is unafraid, that is bold and daring, that is sensitive and nimble, and to trust and encourage its instinct. When you feel nervous, afraid, fearful, worried, and/or in a state of over-analyzing, call on the energy of Ram to connect you with a very specific part of yourself, a part that we all have. Embrace the surety of purpose that Ram embodies and allow yourself to tap into his bravery.

Call on the Ram When:

  • You need to take action!
  • You want to call forth more energy and enthusiasm.
  • Risk is required.
  • The protection of others, especially those who are too young, weak, or innocent to care for themselves is needed.
  • You are called to achieve something daring and great.
  • You want to come into a deeper, more intuitive relationship with your physical body.
  • You have to fight or enter into conflicts.
  • You want to be a hero/heroine.
  • You desire to leave a strong and lasting impression.
  • You want to speak your truth.
  • You need to start a project.
  • You are ready to do the impossible.

Be Wary Of

  • Leaping without Looking – In their quest for adventure and desire to help, sometimes Aries can land itself into sticky situations because they don’t get all of the facts, make certain assumptions, and dive fully into troubled waters.
  • Bossiness – From one cardinal sign to another let’s just put it out there – Aries can be bossy, controlling, and utterly convinced that they understand and no one else does.
  • Jealousy – Aries is drawn to risk but it is also drawn to reward. If they see someone getting more, accomplishing more, or having a greater impact than they do, they can start to feel envious and dwell more on others successes than on the things that will help them bring their A game.
  • Superficiality – The shadow side of leaving impressions is going for quick and easy tricks that, when looked at more deeply, are full of just sound and fury. This most often shows up as a focus on muscles and lipstick as opposed to skill and real talk.
  • Catching Fire – Aries has a TEMPER. Have you ever seen a real Ram ticked off about something? If so, then you get it. Although the temper here is more like a flash fire – it burns hot and bright and then it is gone and forgotten, it does have the ability to singe anyone who gets too close.

Questions to Ponder:

Aries shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Aries” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Aries occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • What does being a hero mean to me?
  • What are the roles courage and bravery play in my life?
  • How well do I understand and work with my body?
  • What and who am I willing to lay down my life for?
  • What kind of impression do I want to make?
  • What is hard for me to get started with and begin?
  • What am I willing to guard and protect?
  • What is the role of risk in my life?
  • What impossibility do I want to make possible?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.
Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing at the edge  of a great cliff and beyond the cliff is the bright blue sea.

Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Ram.

Acknowledge that it does not matter where Aries occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready, look straight out at the horizon line where sky meets earth.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that an object floats just over the horizon line and s slowly becoming larger and larger as it approaches. It seems to glow like the sun and as you narrow your eyes to see it more clearly you find that what is moving towards you is the Golden Fleeced Ram of Aries itself.

Affirm and acknowledge your inner knowing that the Ram is coming for you today, that it is willing, if you are, to take you for a ride into the heavens where you may see your life from a bird’s eye perspective.

As the Ram lands softly beside you the invitation is clear: get on board.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel yourself climb onto the strong Ram. Curl your fingers into its soft, gold, fleece and around its great curling horns.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that the Ram becomes air born and you are now able to see below. The blue sea witnessed at the beginning of the active imagination has changed and transformed into the terrain of your life, from the moment that you were born and took your first breath to right here and right now.

As you hold onto the Ram’s golden fleece, see, sense, touch, know, and feel the question that is being asked:
“Where are you willing to take a risk?”

Look down, look down, look down – knowing that you are safe and able to see clearly from this vantage point.
Look down, look down, look down – acknowledging the areas where you have perhaps played it too safe for too long.
Look down, look down, look down – visioning clearly the places where now a risk is required, an intelligent, brave, but also calculated risk.

Affirm and acknowledge that with the Ram sets you gently down in new terrain, your life after certain risks have been taken and rewards have been granted.

Affirm and acknowledge with the Ram as your guide you can discover not only the best risks to take but the best ways to take them and as you are ready ask Aries, the Ram what it would like you to do with this newfound insight.

Give yourself time to truly listen and enjoy.

When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.

Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.

As a final act, note what the teaching from Aries was to and for you.

Reflect on the message you were given and the task you were asked to do, and then in true Aries fashion, make it happen.

Altar/Ritual

Make space at your altar, or create a new area as you see fit, to show your reverence for Ram. It is possible to procure ethically sourced Ram’s horns, but if you cannot or don’t want to do that, acquire a piece of wool (and raw, unprocessed wool is even better – ask at your local yarn supplier). Place the horns or wool at the center of your altar space. Surround the horns or wool with a small bowl of water, a plant (a small container of grass is perfect for Ram, but any green plant will work well), and a candle.

Light the candle and place your hands on the horns or wool. As you watch the flame, reflect on the fiery nature of Aries and your ride with Ram. Ask for Ram’s essence, courage, and wisdom to guide you and show you the ways to achieve your goals.

After you spend time with Ram at your altar, engage in some kind of physical activity. Do whatever you are physically able and comfortable doing – take a walk or a run, dance around your house, do some gentle stretching, etc. Part of honoring Ram is honoring and acknowledging your own body. Each time you work with Ram take a moment to move and recognize and be thankful for your physical form.

Return to this Ram altar and movement practice whenever you need to reconnect with Fire and with Ram’s knowledge and lessons. Make sure you refresh the water periodically and keep the plant healthy and strong. And remember, always observe common sense fire safety when burning candles.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Scorpio the Scorpion

Divination and Dreams

M

iracles,

I am so delighted to bring a new astrology series to Canto. As my students can attest to, when I teach astrology I always begin with what I call “naked eye” astrology – just looking at the stars and tracking the moon and sun to begin to orient oneself to celestial happenings.

But in our astrological considerations as in all else, the ancient tenet of “As Above, So Below” does apply. For star stories are not only inspired by the heavens; they are at least as much (and perhaps more) inspired by the living creatures, plants, animals, and mythic beings, that each Zodiac sign is based on.

I have always wanted to write a series here that explores the various zodiac signs in depth, but I wanted to give you all something that was not the norm or the boilerplate astro babble you can find so easily in various places.

So I was really delighted when the opportunity arrived to partner with Sara Magnuson of Candlesmoke Chapel who has been incorporating an animist and animal-loving approach into her sacred arts practice for many years. This is the first in what will grow to be a 12 part series, and I hope you enjoy each one of them. It is a long read but worth your time, so sit back with a cup of coffee (or what have you) and sink into all that is of Scorpion. As always you can get more astro goodness in the Free Resources area.

Scorpion brings us into the full power of the autumnal season and exemplifies the balance between the fading harsh Summer Sun and the emergence of the Dark Moon of Winter. For their relatively small size, Scorpion evokes fear and signals danger to most other creatures. Just as those that fall under the sign of Scorpio are often more deep and intense than we realize, Scorpions are surprisingly complex and diverse in their behavior and lifestyle.

scorpions scorpioScorpion As Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Belonging to the class of Arachnids (meaning they have eight legs and are related to Spiders), Scorpions are ancient creatures with fossils dating back 430 million years ago. They are found on all continents but Antarctica and can live in all kinds of places, from deserts to jungles. Their ability to adapt is quite incredible. Scorpions can survive many months without food or water by purposefully controlling their metabolism (kind of like a hibernating Bear). The only constant in Scorpion’s environment is the need for soil or sand. It is their nature to dig and hide under the earth, although they can often be found under rocks and in small crevices. Some Scorpions tunnel elaborate burrows complete with a front porch and various rooms.

They are nocturnal creatures and must have a place to hide during daylight hours. Unlike other nocturnal creatures, such as Owls or Raccoons, Scorpions exhibit photophobia, a physical reaction to light. They don’t choose to be active at night because it fits their lifestyle habits, but rather because it causes physical discomfort to be in the presence of the Sun. It is believed that their sensitivity to the UV spectrum in particular enables them to sense when it is safe to emerge from their lairs and begin hunting or searching for a mate.

Scorpion’s ability to acclimate to its environment as long as it has soil/sand teaches us to focus on the essentials and to understand that everything else can be adapted to. Scorpion’s sensitivity to the Sun teaches us about our relationship to light and dark, what is safe and unsafe. These are the basics of survival, of existing – is there food nearby and am I safe from harm.

The behavior of Scorpion is aggressive and predatory. They have two large front claws that are used to easily crush their prey and this brute force is often their preferred method of killing. Primarily hunting insects and other arachnids, they can also take down small reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and birds. They are most well known, however, for their venomous tail. Scorpion’s venom is made up of neurotoxins and enzyme inhibitors that cause paralysis and internal decay of the victim. Not all Scorpion venom is created equal and the poison of each species is tailored to their environment and preferred type of prey. They will wait in hiding, stalking and ambushing their mark, but they are also known to fearlessly march right into another creature’s living quarters and attack. Whichever method Scorpion uses to kill its prey (force or venom), its lack of teeth means that it is not capable of consuming any solid food. Once its meal is acquired, Scorpion must inject it with venom in order to liquefy its insides and then drinks its feast straight from the source. This is a brutal description, but speaks to the primal nature of Scorpion.

It is these behaviors that teach us to look at our defensive mechanisms, our venom, our poisons. Are our defenses strong enough? As Scorpion has the strength of its claws combined with its venom, do we have more than one defensive option? Scorpion’s aggressive nature also teaches us about bravery and power. They enter a combative situation with surety and confidence, knowing they have the appropriate weapons. Just as Scorpion’s venom is highly specialized to its prey, how can we tailor our defensive actions to the situation at hand? When do we need to be on guard and when do we need to take the kill shot with our poisonous tail?

There also exists a healing nature to Scorpion, however counter-intuitive that may seem. The highly poisonous venom of many creatures, including Scorpions, is often used in creating pharmaceutical medication. Scorpion venom is currently being studied as treatment for all kinds of human ailments – arthritis, lupus, cancer, and non-addictive pain medication. In their natural behavior, Scorpion uses its poison for purposes other than death and knows just the right amount of venom needed to kill or to simply soothe. Those in control of this type of personal spiritual medicine are fully aware of its potency and in the best of cases, they use it with purpose and in just the right way; in the worst of cases, they use it with malicious and manipulative intent. As we will see, Scorpion uses its powerful poison with a great deal of mindfulness.

The unexpectedly complex nature of Scorpion comes through the strongest in its courtship, mating, and parental behaviors. These seemingly vicious creatures exhibit an unusually gentle and beautiful coupling ritual that can take as little as one hour to over a day to complete. Using pheromones and vibrations of the body (called juddering), the male lures the female into a long slow dance aptly named promenade à deux. The male tenderly takes the female’s front claws into his own and guides her around as they search for the perfect spot to mate. During this dance the female often becomes impatient and agitated, to which the male responds by placing a small amount of venom in her mouth to calm her. They mate without touching their bodies together and, once they have found a satisfactory spot, the male deposits his sperm on the surface and guides the female over it. When the dance is complete the pair separates and each goes on their way. This curious act of civility and politeness betrays their outward nature and speaks to us about the importance of discerning when to be hostile and when to be compassionate.

The most exceptional behavior of Scorpion, however, is displayed by the Scorpion Mother. Unlike most arachnids, Scorpion embryos develop inside the mother’s body until hatching rather than laying eggs and leaving them to develop and hatch on their own. The young scorplings (yes, they are really called scorplings!) are carried on the mother’s back to regulate their temperature and moisture levels until their first moulting. Mother Scorpion shows a devotion to her young that is practically unheard of in the world of invertebrate animals.

It is quite amazing that this small, hard-shelled, apparently simple-minded creature contains an extraordinary depth of character that is hidden in their smallest actions. The world of Scorpion is about ensuring that our most basic needs are met – food, safety, sex, nurturing – and defending them with the force of a giant.

ScorpioScorpion as Scorpio: By Briana Saussy

In looking at the tale of Scorpios from ancient Greek myth, what we find is a story that in some ways feels a bit of a let down, especially to those with some astrological knowledge about this sign and those born under its influence. However, as is the case with many myths we must dig a little deeper and move past the obvious in order to find the real medicine that Scorpio carries and this is especially appropriate to the star sign that in many ways is most at home in the darkest depths.

The story of Scorpios and the story of the zodiac sign Scorpio is one of struggle and snags. It is in some ways a cautionary tale in the same style as that of Icharos – beware, for this is what happens when you fly too close to the sun, when you try to move from your mortal coil into mysteries fit only for Gods. However, in deeper ways Scorpio is a story of soul and how the very snags we encounter and the struggles that seem the most drenched in agony are the same that show us beyond all doubt what kind of mettle we are made of.

The tale begins as most tales do with people who were watching the skies and sharing stories of what they saw. In this case the phenomena describes a pursuit during the summer months of the constellation Orion by the constellation Scorpio which is then followed by a waxing of Orion’s strength during the winter months. Across the sky writ large was the story of a chase, conquering, and then apparent resurrection of the one who is conquered. But why is the Scorpion chasing the god-like and beloved giant Orion? What has happened to cause this celestial struggle?

Some say the battle began when Scorpio was called forth by angry Artemis who had heard Orion’s proud boast that he was so powerful and so mighty that he could – and would – destroy all life, all living creatures in order to prove his greatness. Since he wished to prove himself through destruction, so the story goes, Artemis – lover of all wild places, peoples, and creatures, decided that destruction was what he would indeed have, and sent her ally Scorpios to battle with Orion on behalf of all life everywhere.

Here we see one of the primary strengths and weaknesses of the star sign Scorpio and those born under its influence which is the ability to conquer and destroy. There is a martial element to this sign which can be clearly seen when we remember that two planets long associated with the sign are Mars, Saturn, (and, since its discovery, Pluto which is now considered the primary ruling planet of the Scorpion). The Mars influence in Scorpio can be seen in its ability to seek out and destroy whatever threatens its security, safety, and stability. In the first version of the tale this ability is put to profound use as Scorpio’s seek and destroy style is more than a match for the intensity of Orion’s power. (Sun-sign Scorpios and those with strong Scorpio or 8th house tendencies are often labeled as “intense” right out the gate). According to the tale Scorpios is called on as the protector of life itself which can be translated into Scorpio as the protector of those who cannot adequately protect themselves and also Scorpio as the protector of creativity, sex, and fertility — all of the things that lead to and give literal life.

One of the signature qualities of those born under this sign and those who are deeply influenced by it is a desire to protect what is theirs and what is dear to them at all costs. They will go to war, and win, against impossible odds if they feel threatened or if someone they love is threatened. This ability to go to battle is found in the actual animal’s fierce devotion to its young.

At the same time, each of us know that sometimes we are tempted to say “peace, peace, where there is no peace” and deny that certain habits, behaviors, thoughts, and relationships create a stability that is hollow and false. The Scorpio influence shows a more negative side in its ability to encourage one to say stuck in toxic situations because doing otherwise — calling a spade and spade and getting out of dodge — feels like a move that would threaten what is stable and known.

Some say that it was not destruction but its opposite, procreation that caused Orion’s downfall. In this tale the Goddess Artemis appears again but this time in rare form as a lover who has fallen under the spell of handsome and powerful Orion. Artemis’ brother Apollo becomes enraged at his sister’s behavior and so calls the Scorpion to come forward out of the black depths to kill the hero out of malice and revenge.

In this version of the tale we see the association between the Scorpion and eros, love and erotic desire. When you read a horoscope about the sign Scorpio you will often see their sexual prowess and intensity remarked upon. But for a Scorpio sex is never just sex. Sex is the doorway into deeper mysteries, into an ecstasy that often does have a religious or spiritual element (remember that to be in ecstasy is literally to be “standing outside of oneself), and also to deep healing. For the ancient understanding of erotics was not one of mere bed play but of asking and daring to answer the question, what is it you most want and where is it you most lack?

In this “lovers thwarted version” of the tale we also see the flip side of the Scorpio way of love – when they love they love fully and completely and most of the time deeply loyal. However, if Scorpio feels wronged in areas of love then they will seek out revenge on whoever wronged them with their typical and formidable intensity.

A third telling of the tale moves away from the relatively young Olympian Gods Artemis and Apollo into a much older time when Gaia, the earth herself, cried out under the weight of Orion’s hunger and ambition. He wanted…all of it, all of the time; he was ever-famished and no matter how much abundance she provided it was never enough. Sounds familiar, yes? And so, in a desperate bid to save her offspring, creation itself,  she called forth the Scorpion to sting the Giant into submission and stop the ravishing of all the lands once and for all.

Scorpio can wield the energies that are capable of going deeper than deep and preventing destruction on a massive level but that ability also means that Scorpio must in some way understand and relate to the experience of being always hungry and never fully satisfied. (Some of you have heard the saying that the sign Cancer is simply Scorpio in a housecoat – consider the above in light of that). One interpretation of Scorpio is that this is the area of the chart and this is the sign that is most willing to traffic in the occult, to show up and work the corner in the red light district, to run the illegal business, and to transgress in every possible way. But the teaching is more straightforward: Scorpio supports us in dealing with all of the taboos, the third-rail subjects, the unmentionable motivations that everyone has a relationship to: money, power, death, sex, the interior spiritual life.

Each of the tales tells of the struggle, a battle royal that went on for ages, season after season, year after year, as the cosmos continued to spin out more stars and planets and celestial bodies. On one side we have the giant Orion, doomed to lose, for the first time, this struggle against an enemy.

Astrologically wherever Scorpio shows up in the chart is traditionally understood as a place of struggle, a place that carries both wound and medicine, an area that is broken and spilling forth with unique blessing also. Scorpio, as the 8th sign occurs after the sun has been in Libra, the 7th sign. Tradition teaches that the first 6 signs in the Zodiac wheel are concerned with Self while Libra, the point of balance, encourages a turn towards relationship between ourselves and others. Scorpio IS interested in relationships – the deeper and more real the better, so let us consider his partner in the tale – Orion.

Orion has his own set of tales and stories and his greatness must be understood for the fullness of Scorpio’s own teachings to take root. For here is a giant among giants – a hunter and a shaman complete with his ritual belt and club whose very name can mean “light from heaven”. Orion could walk on water, speak to Gods, and he became ritually blinded and then upon making the proper amends at the right time, was able to regain his sight once more. He is huge, more powerful and vast than all of the seas and all of the mountains and all of the deserts combined. And yet. The Scorpion ushers forth out of the blacker than black sky and after many years of struggling so that at one point it seems Orion will vanquish the enemy and at another point he will be vanquished, it all comes to a point. That specific point is the star Rigel, which can still be found today in the constellation of Orion marking his heal, and where all of the tales agree Orion was mortally wounded by Scorpios who was in turn declared the victor.

Scorpio is one of the signs most at home with depth psychology and analysis. Highly psychic, Scorpios are often drawn to the sacred arts because they feel a natural resonance to things like magic, ceremony, alchemy, and ritual. This is also the area of the chart that deals with lineage – your ancestry and your inheritances be they financial and otherwise and many a good investor has serious Scorpio influence in their charts. Scorpio is interested in the ways that severity and punishment are the flip side of generosity and mercy so it is no surprise that all fields dealing with criminals and justice are aligned with the sign as is the field of law.

Each of us carries an inner Orion, the ability to be great coupled with the ability to be overly proud and overly ambitious. And each of us also, no matter what your sun sign might be, carries the gifts of Scorpio – the ability to stun that ambitious overreach, the wisdom to understand that your personal power is in a direct relationship with your willingness to be of service to others. The Scorpion also reminds us, as it did Orion, that it is often the most humble, overlooked, of creatures that at the end of the day carry real power.

The story does not end with the struggle. As it is told, the Gods were so impressed with Orion’s endurance and inability to admit defeat, that they blessed him by removing him from the painful sting of death and placing him up into the heavens where his honor could shine out among the stars.

But the story I know is a bit different. In facing the Scorpion, Orion learned that his true power was not found in his ability to demolish and remove all obstacles standing in his way nor was it his ability to satisfy every craving and hunger. No, rather his true power was demonstrated in his refusal to turn away from struggle, to engage in the battle no matter the cost and in his wisdom to apprehend that the true enemy was not the Scorpion but rather his own inflated and misplaced pride.

This is the teaching of Scorpio, one that applies to and can be of benefit to all.

Call on Scorpion When:

  • You need to be brave in the face of great odds. 
  • A situation or relationship calls for deep devotion and loyalty.
  • The least of things needs to be seen and protected.
  • You are ready to come into right relationship to personal power and service.
  • The superficial and surface no longer persuades and you wish to deepen your understanding in any area.
  • Creative endeavors of all kinds need to be strengthened and given better boundaries.
  • You wish to deepen an erotic relationship and/or take sex seriously.
  • You want to come into right relationship with wealth, money, and your lineage.
  • You want to master your own poison and learn to discern when and how to take action.
  • It is time to get to know your own potential to poison as well as to heal the places that have been poisoned.

Be Wary Of:

  • Acting from a place of revenge or malice or any desire to “get back at someone.
  • Hidden motivations that place your welfare before that of your loved ones.
  • A tendency to invite conflict and drama.
  • Over seriousness and intensity.
  • Addictive behaviors that are hard to address because doing so threatens your sense of “peace and ease.
  • Selfishness and protectionism.

Questions to Ponder:

Scorpio shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Scorpio” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Scorpio occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • Where am I naturally willing to go deeper and look harder?
  • What has been the greatest struggle of my life – what has it taught/continues to teach me?
  • What does power mean to me? Where do I feel powerful? Where do I feel powerless?
  • What is my relationship with light and dark, figuratively and literally?
  • How can I be more powerful in each of these aspects?
  • What can I do in the light that I never thought I could?
  • What abilities do I have in the darkness?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.

Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing in a dry desert in deepest night. There is no moon and the stars shine out all around you, more than you have ever seen in your life. Although it seems that no life can thrive in this inhospitable climate; see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is life. The yipping bark of Coyote, the papery rattle of a Rattlesnake, the scurry scuffle of a burrowing Owl sinking back into its nest inside of a cactus.

Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Scorpion. Acknowledge that it does not matter where Scorpio occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready look straight ahead.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that a path has been illuminated for you and down a bit on that path is a beautiful stellar glow. This glow comes from the vast constellation Scorpio, come down to the horizon line for you at this moment. If you are ready to learn what it has to teach then walk forward.

Walk forward. Walk forward. Walk forward.

You grow closer now and so, walk forward, walk forward, walk forward.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are now standing before the starry constellation and on the desert floor moving all around you are scorpions running every which way, and you are not afraid. As you are ready bend down and place one hand on the desert floor.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel as one of the tiny Arachnids crawl across the palm of your hand.

Looking at it here under the stars high above you and illuminated by the light pulsing out from the constellation of Scorpio, see how complicated and beautiful the creature is. Put aside the surface feelings of disgust and fear, resting certain in the knowledge than in this place and in this time the Scorpion will not harm you.

As you are ready, ask it what its teaching for you is.

Give yourself time to truly listen.

When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.

Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.

As a final act, note what the teaching from Scorpio was to and for you.

Now, choose three PRACTICAL actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

 

Altar and Ritual:

Our altars are generally used for positive purposes – to draw success, money, love, peace, and harmony. For this work, Scorpion asks us to look at the interconnectedness of positive and negative, the balance of using your poison for good or bad (and sometimes “bad” is what’s needed).

The idea behind this ritual is to see where there is light in the darkness and, in the reverse, where the shadows live among the light. It involves approaching your desires from the other side, the opposite angle, in a way that is counter to our natural tendencies.

To this end, Scorpion asks for a separate space, an altar all to its own, a dedicated place to focus on very specific intentions that are not to be mixed in with everything else. Find a place, big or small, that you can dedicate to communing with Scorpion and its astral counterpart.

Think of two major issues in your life right now that you would like change – one positive and one negative. For example, you want your sick mother to get better and you want your noisy neighbors to move out. The way these issues are often approached is to call on positive, healing energy for your mother and to focus on negative things that will drive away your noisy neighbors. But Scorpion asks us to flip this around – to see where we can take positive action in the dark places and where the shadows have influence in the bright places.

Cover or leave bare your altar surface in whatever way feels right to you.

Obtain two white candles and two black candles. They can be of any height that you prefer, but be mindful of how long they will take to burn. The duration is up to you and this ritual can be completed in one sitting or tended to a little bit at a time.*

Divide your altar in half with a light side and dark side, either in your mind or with a physical delineation. It can be divided horizontally or vertically, as you see fit.

Set up one white candle in the side that you associate with lightness, white, and positivity, but don’t light the candle.

Set up one black candle in the side that you associate with darkness, black, and negativity, and don’t light it.

Sit for a moment and take a deep breath. Call in the medicine of Scorpion. (as we continue, it is important to keep track of the white and black candles as instructed)

Light the white candle on the white side of your altar first and acknowledge the positive, bright side of yourself.

Light the black candle on the dark side of your altar next and acknowledge the negative, dark side of yourself.

Take a deep breath and feel that Scorpion is with you, asking you to be not afraid of its dangerous elegance.

Think of the negative issue in your life that you would like to change (i.e. your noisy neighbors). Gather up all your angry feelings and focus on the black shadow candle you have just lit in the dark side of your altar. Envision all the negative thoughts and feelings you have about this issue in the flame of the black candle as it sits in the dark side of your altar.

Take the second white candle and hold it in your hands. Focus on the situation or person(s) that make you angry and frustrated. Hold it/them in your mind and ask Scorpion to show you how to use your poison for good. For example, rather than wishing that bad things happen to your neighbors as payback for bothering you, wish that they win the lottery and move away because they want to. If you are in competition for something, wish that your adversary “loves to lose.” Use the flame from the black candle on the dark side of your altar to light the white candle you hold in your hands. As the white candle takes flame, feel all those negative desires burning into pure white hot fire, illuminating the sea of darkness with a beacon of kindness. Set this white candle in the dark side of your altar.

Take a deep breath and know that Scorpion is guiding you to use your powerful energy with mindfulness and civility.

Now, think of the positive issue in your life that you would like to change (i.e. that your sick mother will get better). Gather up all your tender-hearted feelings and focus on the glowing white candle you have already lit on the bright side of your altar. Envision all the positive thoughts and desires you have about this issue in the flame of the white candle as it sits in the light side of your altar.

Take the second black candle and hold it in your hands. Focus on the situation or person(s) that you want to send healing energy to. Hold it/them in your mind and ask Scorpion to show you how to use your poison in a malicious way. For example, rather than wishing for your mother to heal, curse the disease that plagues her. Ask Scorpion to show you the root of the matter, the thing that is causing the need for healing in the first place, and how to destroy it. Use the flame from the white candle on the bright side of your altar to light the black candle you hold in your hands. As the black candle takes flame, feel all those positive desires lighting the black coals that will annihilate the source of this malady or discomfort. Set this black candle in the light side of your altar.

Take a deep breath and know that Scorpion is guiding you to wield the power of your venom in the proper direction.

Spend some time sitting at your altar while these candles burn; a white candle and black candle burning together on each side of your altar. Meditate on each of the two issues at hand and allow Scorpion to show you how to regulate and redirect your energy.

You may sit with the candles until they burn out or snuff them out when you are finished. You can revisit and relight these candles, in the same order, over several days. One way is not better or worse than the other and you should continue to work this dedicated Scorpion altar as you feel called.

*always use common sense fire safety when burning candles indoors.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

2016 Astro RX

Divination and Dreams

H

appy Day Miracles, As 2015 rushes to a close many of us like to engage in some ritual and ceremony to mark the end of one year and begin a new one. One popular act is to consciously release and let go of what no longer serves us. Another is to get hip to the astrological happenings that will accompany the unfolding of 2016. Now there are many places on the web that you can go and get basic information about planets, signs, transits and more throughout 2016. That is useful information to know, but it is really just the tip of the iceberg.

So, in this astrological guide you will find important dates and descriptions of celestial events; but more than that, you will find questions to ponder, to be inspired by, to journal about and to create with – practical questions evoked by each astrological happening in 2016. Enjoy!

Start with the Moon

LunarLetter_FullMoonLa Luna is the most visible and easily trackable celestial body in the sky besides the sun. And so it makes complete sense that the earliest calendars were lunar to say nothing of the many ceremonies, rites, and feast days that honored Luna in her various phases. Within the sacred arts there are four lunar phases to pay especial attention to: Full, New, Dark, and the First Quarter. Most folks are familiar with Full, New, and Dark or Balsamic moons but not as familiar with the First Quarter moons, however the moon in its first quarter phase marks the halfway point between new and full. This is the phase that for the ancients was most associated with divination and prophecy, perhaps made most famous by the Oracle at Delphi who only issued her prophetic statements when the moon was in this phase.

So here are the lunar phases for 2016 in central time.

New Moons in 2016

1/9: New Moon at 19 degrees Capricorn, 7:31 PM
Ask: What needs to be renewed or refreshed in my career or craftsmanship?

2/8: New Moon at 19 degrees Aquarius, 8:39 AM
Ask: How do I honor new relationships and how do I renew old relationships?

3/8: New Moon and Total Solar Eclipse at 18 degrees Pisces, 7:54 PM
Ask: What is ready to be healed once and for all?

4/7: New Moon at 18 degrees Aries, 6:24 AM
Ask: What big thing am I ready to begin?

5/6: New Moon at 16 degrees Taurus, 2:30 PM
Ask: What seeds can I plant now for financial sustainability?

6/4: New Moon at 14 degree Gemini, 10:01 PM
Ask: What am I ready to learn?

7/4: New Moon at 12 degrees Cancer, 6:03 AM
Ask: Where is the poetry in my life?

8/2: New Moon at 10 degrees Leo, 3:46 PM
Ask: How can I honor my tribe?

9/1: New Moon and Annular Solar Eclipse at 9 degrees Virgo, 4:04 AM
Ask: What am I ready to devote myself to?

9/30: New Moon at 8 degrees Libra, 7:12 PM
Ask: What new aspect of love am I ready to explore?

10/30: New Moon at 7 degrees Scorpio, 12:39 PM
Ask: Where are the deep waters asking me to go?

11/29: New Moon at 7 degrees Sagittarius, 6:19 AM
Ask: Where do I find freedom?

12/29: New Moon at 7 degrees Capricorn, 12:53 AM
Ask: What new element will benefit my work and craftsmanship?

Full Moons in 2016

1/23: Full Moon at 3 degrees Leo, 7:46 PM
Ask: What is my favorite way of celebrating?

2/22: Full Moon at 3 degrees Virgo, 12:21 PM
Ask: Where have I brought order and beauty into my life?

3/23: Full Moon Lunar Eclipse at 3 degrees Libra, 7:01 AM
Ask: Right relationship means…

4/22: Full Moon at 2 degrees Scorpio, 12:24 AM
Ask: What investment(s) has yielded fruit?

5/21: Full Moon at 1 degree Sagittarius, 4:15 PM
Ask: Where have I created more freedom for myself?

6/20: Full Moon at 29 degrees Sagittarius and Summer Solstice, 6:03 AM
Ask: Where do I shine brightest?

7/19: Full Moon at 27 degrees Capricorn, 5:57 PM
Ask: One of my big successes has been…and I learned this from it:….

8/18: Full Moon Lunar Eclipse at 25 degrees Aquarius, 4:27 AM
Ask: Who shows up for me and who do I show up for?

9/16: Full Moon Lunar Eclipse at 24 degrees Pisces, 12:06 PM
Ask: What have I healed and what did I learn in the process?

10/15: Full Moon at 23 degrees Aries, 11:24 PM
Ask: What project did I see through from start to finish? How did I do it?

11/14: Full Moon at 22 degrees Taurus, 7:52 AM
Ask: Where is there abundance in my life?

12/13 Full Moon at 22 degrees Gemini, 6:06 PM
Ask: What have I learned this year?

 

Dark or Balsamic Moons in 2016

Note: Dark/Balsamic Moons are actually counted from the Last Quarter through the New Moon.

1/1: Dark Moon at 11 degrees Libra, 7:30 PM
Ask: What relationships am I ready to release?

2/1: Dark Moon at 11 degrees Scorpio, 5:27pm
Ask: What mysteries need to be protected?

3/1: Dark Moon at 11 degrees Sagittarius, 5:10pm
Ask: What am I willing to give up in order to have more freedom?

3/31: Dark Moon at 11 degrees Capricorn, 10:16 AM
Ask: What does my work and craftsmanship need less of?

4/29: Dark Moon at 10 degrees Aquarius, 10:28 PM
Ask: What anxiety about the future can I release?

5/29: Dark Moon at 8 degrees Pisces, 7:11 AM
Ask: What delusion is no longer serving me?

6/29: Dark Moon at 6 degrees Aries, 1:18 AM
Ask: What foolishness can I let go of?

7/26: Dark Moon at 4 degrees Taurus, 5:59 AM
Ask: What shame can I banish?

8/24: Dark Moon at 2 degrees Gemini, 10:40 PM
Ask: What kinds of communication do I need less of?

9/23: Dark Moon 0 degrees Cancer, 4:56 AM
Ask: What dreams am I ready to let go?

10/22: Dark Moon 29 degrees Cancer , 1:14 PM
Ask: What obstacles do I need to remove?

11/21: Dark Moon 28 degrees Leo, 2:33 AM
Ask: What pride is no longer needed?

12/20: Dark Moon, 0 degrees Libra 9:56 PM
Ask: What struggles in the name of love am I able to release?

First Quarter Moons  in 2016

1/16: First Quarter at  25 degrees Aries, 5:26 PM
Ask: What does courage tell me?

2/15: First Quarter at 25 degrees Taurus, 1:47 AM
Ask: What does pleasure tell me?

3/15: First Quarter at 25 degrees Gemini, 12:03 PM
Ask: What does speech and thought tell me?

4/13: First Quarter at 24 degrees Cancer, 11:00 PM
Ask: What is nourishment to me and where is it in my life?

5/13: First Quarter at 23 degrees Leo, 12:03 PM
Ask: What does my heart want right now?

6/12: First Quarter at 21 degrees Virgo, 3:10 AM
Ask: What does devotion teach me?

7/11: First Quarter at 14 degrees Libra, 7:53 AM
Ask: What does love show me?

8/10: First Quarter at 18 degrees Scorpio, 1:22 PM
Ask: Where is the mystery for me right now?

9/9: First Quarter at degrees 17 Sagittarius, 6:50 AM
Ask: What does freedom tell me?

10/8: First Quarter at 10 degrees Capricorn, 11:34 PM
Ask: How can I bring more endurance and patience into my life?

11/7: First Quarter at 15 degrees Aquarius, 1:52 PM
Ask: What does my community teach me?

12/7: First Quarter at 21 degrees Pisces, 3:03 AM
Ask: What dream is waiting for me?

Planets

Just like the stars, planets move throughout the sky all of the time. The inner planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars) all move relatively quickly through signs and sections of the chart. The outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto) all move at a much slower rate through the various constellations and houses of the chart. Inner planets traditionally are understood to deal with every day, practical, real-life issues while outer planets are understood to work with big cycles, realizations, and patterns in our lives. First we will spend some time with some of the inner planet happenings in 2016, starting with the ever dreaded Mercury retrogrades.

Mercury Retrograde Dates

Read: All you need to know about Mercury Retrograde. You can also get a leg up on Mercury Retrograde by snagging the Mercury RX Survival Kit.

January 5 – January 25: Retrograde starts in Aquarius moves into Capricorn on 1/8

Ask: How am I showing up for my community, my friends, my neighbors, my work?
Do the ways I show up feel good or do they need to change and if so, how?

April 28 – May 22 in Taurus

Ask: How is my relationship with my physical body, what is my body trying to tell me?
What are the pleasurable things I do for myself or someone else regularly? Is it enough or is there room for more pleasure?

August 30 – September 22 in Virgo

Ask: How is my physical health? What areas of health and wellness might I need to focus on more going forward? Where is devotion in my life right now?

December 19 2016 – January 8, 2017: Retrograde starts in Capricorn moves into Sagittarius on 1/5

Ask: What do I need to remember about endurance? What teachings have I accepted that are no longer valid?

Mars

This is the one to watch: In 2016 Mars will spend a big chunk of the year in the signs of Scorpio and Sagittarius. Mars enters Scorpio on January 3rd and then on March 5th it goes into Sagittarius. On April 17th Mars goes retrograde in Sagittarius, continues to retrograde in Scorpio starting May 27th and stays retrograde until June 29th at which point it goes direct again.

In astro-land Mars sometimes has a bad reputation and no matter where they occur in your chart, Scorpio and Sagittarius both pack some intense energy. You can resist Mars – and in doing so you will discover your angry, competitive side most likely while you waste a lot of energy and ignore your physical health. OR you can do high-end Mars, harnessing this planet’s incredible will power, endurance, courage and stamina to discover what aspects of your life are in need of optimization and bring those improvements into being.
Ask: What do I put my energy into? Do those choices serve me or not?

 

When Mars enters Scorpio on 1/3…

Ask:What can be optimized in my intimate connections? In my love and sex life? In the investments that I make (whether those are investments of time, resource, energy, money or a little bit of everything)?
What hidden aspects of my life am I ignoring because I am afraid to look at them head on?

 

When Mars enters Sagittarius on 3/5…

Ask: What does the way I live my life teach others? What ideas no longer make sense or seem correct to me?

Throughout the Mars retrograde whenever you encounter a difficult situation:
Ask: How can I bring more courage (more heart) into this situation? What do I need to let go of in order to move forward with more freedom?

Saturn and Neptune Square Off in 2016

Actually these two potent planets started facing off in 2015 with the first exact square occurring at the end of November 2015 – think back to that time and ask yourself if anything major was happening in your life. I think of this tense conversation between Saturn (in Sagittarius) and Neptune (in Pisces) as dreamtime meets real time.

In other words: Neptune says “Look, at my dream, isn’t it pretty?!”

And Saturn replies,
“It is, and the world needs it, so how are you going to make it a reality? Get to work, moonbeam.”
THAT is the Neptune/Saturn square in a nutshell. Though it may feel taxing at times, this configuration has the ability to take many impressive visions and possibilities and put the elbow grease into them so that they become part of our collective experience and cosmos.
Ask: What is my big dream right now, how can I practically support it?
Think about an actual dream that you are having now or that you have had – one that really stayed with you; where is that happening in your life right now?
What does nourishing structure and creative rigor look and feel like? Where in my life do I need more of those qualities?

Jupiter in Virgo and Libra

Jupiter is currently in Virgo and continues to transit through Virgo for most of 2016. On September 9th Jupiter will go into the sign of Libra and transit that sign for the rest of the year. Virgo has a reputation for calling to mind all things orderly, put together, and organized, but Virgo’s deeper resonance deals with devotion and unconditional care. Ruling over the 6th house, Virgo is also the sign to work with whenever there are physical health concerns. Jupiter’s benevolent authority and sovereignty can help all of us ground deeply by organizing our personal spaces/businesses and also creating a bigger role for devotion in our lives.
Ask: Where does my physical health need extra care and support? How and what kind of order would allow me to have more space to create?

Jupiter in Libra turns the spotlight on love, partnerships, diplomacy, art, and culture.
Ask: How can I bring more blessing into my relationships? What kind of generosity do I bring to my loved ones?

Saturn in Sagittarius

Throughout 2016 Saturn continues to wind its way through the sign of Sagittarius, the Archer. This is the area of our lives where we engage in creating a VISION for ourselves and the world that we live in. Freedom, philosophy (as in your philosophy of life), education, and religion all have a role to play in this relationship. Saturn, planet of Time among other things invites us to consider our relationship to each of the areas that Sagittarius speaks to.
Ask: Where in my life can greater discipline lead to truer freedom? What is one thing that I absolutely believe? Why?

Neptune in Pisces

Neptune IS the ruling planet of the sign Pisces so it is very happy to be hanging out with the fishes, even despite of (and maybe encouraged by) its square with Saturn. This is a year when it can feel like the inspiration is flowing and the Muse is showing up on a daily basis. The squares with Saturn can symbolize “stuck” periods that really require creativity around practical concerns.
Ask: What do I want/need/feel called to make/be/do in 2016 and what practical actions can I take to support that work? What is the role of creativity in my life right now?

Uranus in Aries

This is the cosmic rebel yell! Uranus is radical, as in it goes right down to the root of things, takes in the entire landscape, and then plunges ahead with a fully formed (or maybe not) vision of what CAN be. Aries joins in the fracas all too happily reminding us all that, as my dad (an Aries) says, “you can stare or you can start.” Of course with this energy we want to start ventures deliberately and not leave a trail of half finished really good ideas behind us.
Ask: What needs to be shaken up and expanded? Where am I ready to rebel and why? Can I finished what I start?

Pluto in Capricorn

Capricorn works hard and Pluto goes deep so this pairing cannot help but leave an impact wherever it happens in your chart. Capricorn is often thought of as the career sector of the chart but I think of it more as craftsmanship. The difference is that for many of us career is a notion tied distinctly to our jobs, while craftsmanship is a virtue that we can apply to many areas of our lives. Pluto relentlessly tears down whatever is not working and Capricorn has the good sense to continue moving forward and refining all needed skill sets.
Ask: What does mastery mean to me? Where am I a master in my life and how do I share that with others?

 

 

Further Reading + Resources:

If you would like more personal one on one astrological guidance book a series of Sacred Arts Sessions for deeper exploration.
Astro.com – home of free charts galore
The online ephemeris – any planet, any year – yes, for real.
Heidi Rose Robbins – soulful astrological readings via phone or skype
Mystic Medusa – fun astrological insights often tied to current events and pop culture
Amelia Quint – brilliant advice on tarot and astrology
The Tarot Lady – check out her specialty forecasts like the Entrepreneurcast

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon in Libra: Peace passeth all Understanding

Lunar Letter

sea_otters_holding_hands

D

ear Miracles: In these days of the Dark Moon leading up to a Libran New Moon on 9/24, it is a good idea to turn our attentions and intentions to peace. Not peace in the sense of covering things up or looking the other way when faced with injustice. Not the false peace of holding our tongues when we would do better to speak out, but deep peace, abiding peace, peace that truly does surpass our reasoned understanding or expectations.

I chose the image of two otters holding hands because first of all: Otters holding hands! And secondly, I think this is such a true image of peace. Two creatures, content for the moment, holding onto one another as they drift in mamma ocean. The ocean, like the world in which we live can be full of wonder or terror and we all know that calm seas can turn stormy in an instant. The otters know that peace is often found in partnership — with a friend, a loved one, a generous ally. So it is for us too, when we are in right relationship, with our loved ones, our body, our work, our creative aspirations, then there are moments of peace.

As many of you know, the New Moon in sacro-magical work is the time of beginnings. It is the time when we can plant the tiny seeds of our intentions for the month, the next quarter, or even the entire year. One time honored way of “planting” is through ritual. So what seeds, what rituals are most appropriate for this particular New Moon?

Peace obviously is one good focal point. Libra, the sign of balance and harmony, chooses conversation over conflict and diplomacy over threats. Mars in Sagittarius places his discipline and drive for perfection in the areas of learning teaching, philosophy, and exposure to other ways of doing things — together these two can work beautifully especially in the areas of international relationships. Whether you are dealing with family drama or concerned about geo-political crisis, this New Moon offers a cosmic “reset” button…allowing us to change approach and strategy to create more collaboration and less strife.

Those of you dealing with court case or legal issues may find that intentions and desires that are ritualized during this New Moon carry great weight and do much to bring any legal troubles or stresses to an end. (Libra is, after all, the sign of law).

Love is another good area to explore under the aegis of this beautiful New Moon. Specifically mending and healing broken love relationships of all kinds, working towards reconciliation, and infusing fireworks and fun into already existing and solid relationships is an excellent idea.

Money/Career affairs can receive an extra dose of brilliant insight at this time due to the lovely trine between Jupiter and Uranus. If you have been stuck on a money situation or feel like the financial sector of your life needs a boost then work this alignment by giving yourself a few days around and including the New Moon to brainstorm and delve deep into your relationship to money, work, and abundance. You are guaranteed to discover treasure.

Because Sagittarius has a dreamy, wildly psychic and creative side, this New Moon is quite good for sign and synchronicity watching as well. If you have been waiting for the right time to ask the universe for a sign, this period would is hard to beat!

Two good divination questions to ask during this beautiful black moon are:
Where in my life and/or what in my life needs peace now?
How can I provide or make space for that peace?

 

Wishing you deep, meaningful, peace.

 

 

 

 

PS: Don’t forget that registration for Three Ways of Wisdom closes on 9/22. If you want to take a tarot class with me this year, this is the class and now is the time!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mars retrograde in Libra–Swords to Ploughshares

Divination and Dreams

460px-Paolo_Veronese_012
Mars and Venus by Paolo Veronese; 1580

…and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. —Isaiah 2: 3-4

D

ear Miracles: The bad news? The planet Mars is transiting the sign Libra until July 2014 and it just went retrograde. In classic astrology there is no sign that Mars less likes to be in than Venus ruled Libra–he even likes Taurus better than Libra!

The awesome news? Mars is transiting the sign Libra until July 2014, just went retrograde, and we can all learn a lot of lessons from this experience!

This astro situation usually shakes down in one of three ways:

1.) Passive Agressive Alert! Libra does not like confrontations–we like harmony, peace, and love (also champagne). Mars lives for conflict, super charged drama, and risk (high adventure, no?) When Mars goes retro in Libra it can make people who tend to be more direct and unafraid of conflict feel…muffled. It can also make those who do not tend towards conflict feel unusually short tempered and irritable. Thus the scene for some massive passive aggressive attacks is set.

Response: From now until May 19th watch your words and actions–if something rubs you the wrong way and you are usually pretty low key then ask yourself–is this really something I need to bring up and get into it about. If the answer is yes, by all means proceed–with clarity, honesty, and direct communication.

2.) All show, no go: For Libra pretty is powerful and superficial concerns are anything but. For Mars and it’s associated sign of Aries appearance matters but mostly so we can figure out who plays what role and then do something dramatic, daring, and adventurous (and high fives if we manage all three at the same time). Mars retro in Libra can lead to superficial concerns that really are superficial–with no undercurrent of awesome and likewise, can lead into situations that look like they are potentially difficult but worthy endeavors (along the lines of nothing ventured, nothing gained). But are less Mission Impossible and more Mission Stalled Out.

Response: Keen-eyed discernment people! Mars/Aries rules the head and Libra (house of art and diplomacy) is no dummy. This astro has brains, beauty, and brawn so put all of yours to work for you. Do NOT let Mars get the upper hand and go chasing after unlikely/impossible/soul sucking ventures. Do not get caught up in the Libra project gone wrong and spend 2 hours organizing your nail polishes so that they match your lipsticks when what you really need to do is call your boss and have that difficult (and not passive aggressive) conversation about the raise he promised you but never delivered on.

3.) Blue Aisle Special on Global Skirmishes and Political Unrest…yes, Mars retro in Libra can lead to some pretty fine messes on a geopolitical level. Financial weirdness can occur but with this particular astrology it’s more likely that diplomacy in some cases will be a total no go and elected leaders will embrace might over right. You may be yawning and thinking, what else is new? But the Mars retro action does raise the stakes.

Response: Other than sending blessings of wisdom and self control to elected (and unelected) leaders throughout the world, we can all collectively take a page from Isaiah and encourage swords to be turned into ploughshares. The global brandishing of weapons may feel overwhelming and inevitable, but Mars retro in Libra can also send some pretty essential messages about peace and reminds us that harmony emerges first from discord.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.