School is back in session. The New Moon in Virgo is just around the corner. Ancestor Season is not that far off…and all of this can only mean one thing:
It is time to start Planning by Starlight!
For those new to this series…or for my OG crew that wants to participate again this year, here is what we are doing. Over the next three days I’ll be sending out a lesson each day on getting your astro-agenda in order!
And on the third day you all will have an extra special treat because the annual Stars, Cards, and Numbers class (held in December) will open for registration! More on that later.
For now, let’s get started with Planning By Starlight: Lesson One!
Working with astrology in a practical manner that speaks directly to our lives is something we all want to be able to do.
Astrology is one of the most popular sacred arts for a reason! And when it comes to figuring out how to work with astrology in a grounded, useful, manner, planning by the stars is right up there near the top of the list.
Unfortunately, this starting point can also become confusing and overwhelming fast.
Almost as soon as we start, we can feel lost: ascendent this and ruling planet that, where is your sun and where is your moon, and what the heck does it mean if I have Mercury in the 8th house?!
The problem is basic: we are suffering from information overload.
Specifically, there is too much information to process and a lack of clarity about how to discern the information that is most relevant to you and your dreams.
This makes sense.
The study of the stars has been with us for millennia and some version is found in every culture. Many of you know how central storytelling is to my work and I truly believe that we started telling stories as we gazed up at the glowing heavens in wonder, awe, and yes, sometimes fear.
So, we have a field of knowledge and practice that spans time, culture and has been around for thousands of years. Add to that, the basics of astrology as most of us practice it here in the 21st century developed Western world, begins with 12 planets, 12 zodiacal constellations, and 12 houses that correlate to specific life areas and concerns.
Right off the bat we are dealing with 36 terms and that is before we get into major aspects (like conjunctions or squares), transits, and even before we talk about the way that the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) speak to each component!
So then, we try to take this information and plot it into our planners or calendars – I don’t know about you but for me just making sure I know what appointments I have on tap for the next week can feel like an uphill slog – and it becomes a wild tangle very quickly.
No WONDER we experience information overload when it comes to planning by starlight. That smart and savvy intuitive voice within you might be telling you that there has to be a better way. And you know what?
That voice is right.
If the biggest challenge in planning with an eye to astrology is information overload then the solution is pretty simple. Aristotle mentioned it thousands of years ago…start with what is closest to you.
Start with what you really want to focus on in the coming year.
What is your dream for 2023?
See, this is the beautiful thing about astrology and really all the Sacred Arts. You don’t need to know everything, you just need to know enough to make a beginning and you can make a beginning anywhere.
In this series of lessons I am going to give you the exact process I have worked with for years when I start planning by starlight. And in this first lesson I am going to share the steps you need to take in order to get started with your own planning by starlight experience.
We will cover the following topics:
I. Setting Ourselves up for Success and What You Need to Begin
II. Declaring What You Don’t Want and Discovering What You Do
III. Planning with Sun Signs
IV. Planning with the Moon
V. Planning with the Planets
Before we get into the details of this lesson, I want to share a few things about planning in general, how to set yourself up for success in this project and go over what you need in order to get started.
In my experience you will have the best success at planning if you do the following:
- Understand that this is going to be a multi-day process – you won’t get all your planning finished in one day, I don’t get my planning for the year completed in a single week – I usually take a couple of months to do it.
- Because this will be a multi-day and maybe even multi-week project, you will be well served by setting up a dedicated space where you can spread out all of your materials, put on some music, and go to work! Likewise, you will experience the best results if you select a time to do this when you are least likely to be disturbed.
Now let’s talk about what you actually need to have in hand to get started.
- A Planner, Calendar, or Agenda: I like and work with both paper and digital planners. Of course, for my paper planner I work with the Planning By Starlight Planner and right now I use gcal for my digital plans. I also keep a desk calendar on my desk so that I can look at the month at a glance and see what appointments I have.The gcal function is nice because it syncs to my phone and reminds me when I have an appointment. I can share important dates or events with my husband’s calendar, and I can send invites to my clients and students for one-on-one sessions directly from the calendar…I like to manually book my appointments since with two school-age children my schedule can be a bit irregular!On the other hand, I also like having a hard copy paper planner because I don’t want to be beholden to always checking my phone or computer and weird things can happen with digital calendars where events or appointments disappear, whereas if you have a hard copy you are set.You will need to discover what works best for you. Everyone’s needs are different and of course we have both digital and Collector’s Edition paper copies of Planning By Starlight available.
- School/Work Calendars: If you can get calendars from any schools that you or your family members attend that will really help your planning process. The same is true for work and church calendars as well as any important dates on your partner’s calendar.
- Your calendar from last year/the current year: One of the things you will learn in these lessons is that planning is always a developing process. I encourage my students to make notes about recurring dates, months, or important moments that carry through year after year. Those will most likely be marked out on your current calendar or the calendar from last year, so it’s handy to have those around.
- To Do Lists: If you are a list maker – and if you are or want to be, I have a free workshop for you right here – you will want to have easy access to your lists as you begin to plan.
- Your journal or a notebook to write in. Insights, ideas, and inspirations may occur to you as you do this and you will want a place to write them down.
- Other items I like to have include colored pens, highlighters, mini-sticky notes, colored mechanical pencils, and my computer. Some people really get into stickers and inserts. Some folks like to have a color-coded legend. You might want to invest in a good astrological calendar and planner, like the Planning by Starlight Planner that provides insight into astrological highlights for the coming year, as well as the major lunar phases.
Now you are ready to start pre-planning!
As you do this, do not, for the love of all that is holy, make it abstract. You can make this process concrete by declaring now what you don’t want as well as what you do. Begin by thinking concretely about the current year we are in and you might want to get our your journal for this part.
What has worked for you?
What have you really enjoyed?
Have there been months, seasons, or specific days that were especially great? If so, note them down.
Was there a period this year, when you felt like you had enough time and space to do everything you wanted to do? If so, when was that?
And on the flip side:
What hasn’t been so great?
What has been hard or difficult?
Have there been months, seasons, or specific days that were especially hard? If so, note them down.
Was there a period this year, when you felt like you were rushed and especially stressed? If so, when was that?
Having answers to these questions will set you up for excellent success as you look to the stars.
The next step is to plot out any essential dates non-astro dates. These might be birthdays, anniversaries, national holidays, or known periods of time when you will be on vacation. If you have children, look at those school calendars and plot out the days and times that they have off, special celebrations, etc. If you follow a specific religious or spiritual practice, make sure that you mark out your Holy Days as well.
Now we are ready to look at the heavens! In astrology the best place to start is with the obvious stuff – the celestial bodies that you can actually see with your naked eye.
Here are three approaches to help get you started:
Planning with Sun Signs
Most people’s beginning point with astrology is learning their sun sign.
This is the zodiac sign that the sun was transiting during the time of your birth. The sun remains in each sign for about a month and because its motion is fairly regular those month-long periods more or less retain consistent start and end dates.
When you are talking to someone and they say “Well of course I care about my work, I’m a Capricorn!” they are sharing their sun sign with you. Any good astrology book will provide the dates for each sun sign, so if you don’t know yours, it is easy to find it out!
Identify your sun sign and work with that as your first (and possibly only) step in your planning adventure this year.
Here is how to do that:
Let’s say that your sun sign is in Sagittarius. The first thing you can do is note when the sun will be in this sign for the current year. As stated above, these dates are usually consistent but may shift by a day or two each year. I always have them listed here for the current year if you aren’t sure.
Mark out that time on your calendar. Your birthday falls in this period so obviously star that day.
Next, think about how you typically feel during this time of year.
Do you feel too busy and unable to really enjoy your solar return (ie, birthday)?
Do you feel like this is your favorite time to go on vacation?
Do you want to snuggle down and rest during this time of year?
Think and feel into years past and what your experiences have been. Jot down a few notes in your journal.
Then ask yourself, what would I like my experience to be this year during this period?
Consider the Sun. In astrology we consider it a planet and it is the planet of enlightenment and revelation. Practically speaking the light and warmth of the sun makes our lives possible. Think a bit about the sign of Sagittarius. Here is an article you can read on it if you don’t know where to begin.
What are some of the major themes you associate with this sign?
How might they play out in your practical planning?
See? Planning with your Sun Sign! Easy!
Planning with the Moon
After working with your sun sign you may want to turn your attention to the moon. Some of our most ancient calendars are based on the Moon, not the Sun, and the Moon gives us a reliable way to tell that time is passing because this celestial body transforms over a 28 day lunar cycle – going from apparently invisible in the night sky (during the New Moon) to full and radiant (during the Full Moon), and then vanishing once more.
There are many ways to incorporate the Moon into your astro-planning projects but the easiest and best place to start in my opinion is with a calendar that notes the four major phases of the moon for each month. Those phases are: New, Waxing Quarter, Full, and Waning Quarter.
Ideally, whatever planner/calendar you work with will have areas for notes (like our planner does) so that you can use it as a kind of journal.
Each week notice what major phase the moon is in. You may also want to pay attention to the Zodiac sign that the moon is in if you want to take it a bit farther.
On a weekly basis, jot down a few notes directly into your planner. These notes should describe how you felt during this week – because the moon speaks to our feelings – and record any places you felt stuck or deeply intuitive – because the moon speaks to both of those areas as well.
After a couple of months of this you will start to notice patterns and get a sense of what moons are really supportive for you and what moons might pose more of a challenge. You can then consider this information in your planning efforts.
At the very least, make sure you have a planner/calendar that notes when the full and new moons are every month. These days have been honored since time beyond time and a good way to begin appreciating the stars and all they have to share is by setting aside a little time during these two points each month to honor and observe the heavens. Here are some ways to do that on the New Moon and here are some ways to do it on the Full Moon.
Planning with Planets
So, you are now considering the sun and moon in your plans. This is great because you can look up in the sky at any time and connect to either.
As you are looking at the night sky you might see that there are some other celestial bodies asking to be noticed. They might look like really bright stars but they are not, they are actually planets. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and sometimes Uranus can be seen with the naked eye in the nighttime sky at certain times of the year.
Hot tip for beginning star gazers: the best time to look at the night sky is during a New Moon because the absence of the moonlight allows the stars to shine brighter).
Planning with the planets has many layers but again, we start simple. With the planets the best place to start is in understanding how they work from a Sacred Arts perspective.
Quite simply the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, and of course Earth) speak to practical concerns and issues – the stuff that again, is closest to us.
Here is how to think about this:
Perhaps this is the year when you want to draw the right partner into your life, or maybe you are getting married this year and stuck on finding the best date for your “I Do”! In those cases, you should pay attention to the planet Venus.
Begin by asking if there are times of the year when Venus is visible and times when she is not?
Is Venus associated with a specific day of the week? (Yes, Friday).
Is Venus going to be retrograde (when the planet appears to move backwards) at any point in the next year? A good astro calendar or planner will have those dates noted but if yours doesn’t make sure to write them down. You can also find them here.
But maybe Venus is not the planet for you in the coming year.
Maybe this is a year where you really want to make some strong professional connections, publish something, or move. In that case you might want to work with the planet Mercury – the mover and shaker of the zodiac. Consider the questions we asked for Venus and add to them. Mercury the planet resonates with the Roman God Mercury, the metal Mercury, the Ancient Greek Hermes, and on it goes.
Find out about these figures and materials. What is their story, their significance, their power?
That might seem like an arcane approach but in truth it is an approach that will allow you to plan all the better with this speedy planet.
If fitness, losing weight, winning any kind of contest or competition, or developing the discipline to attain mastery in a given area is your focus then you will want to work with Mars. Again, you would follow the same approach outlined above.
As always, the important thing is that you just start! Starting small, with one planet or one sign, or even one season, can often be the best way to make a start when it comes to planning by the stars because it guarantees that you WILL actually start.
As you take all of this in you may find yourself thinking: yeah, yeah, Bri – this is great and it gives me a good sense of my personal preferences, but what about the big astro-events I need to be aware of? How do I factor those into my plans? To which I say: hold your horses and keep an eye on your email – that will be the topic of tomorrow’s next lesson!