orking with astrology in a practical manner that speaks directly to our lives is something we all want to be able to do. Astrology is not one of the most popular sacred arts without reason! And when it comes to figuring out how to work with astrology in a really practical manner, planning with it is right up there near the top of the list.
Unfortunately, this is also where the problems often begin. Almost as soon as we begin 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 that 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 goals, dreams, and desires.
It 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 study that spans time and 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 the 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) 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 and calendars (and 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).
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 Astro-planning is information overload then the solution is actually 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.
See, this is the beautiful thing about astrology and actually all of the Sacred Arts. You don’t need to know all of it or everything, you just need to know enough to make a beginning and you can make a beginning anywhere.
I am going to give you my process for planning throughout these lessons, but in this first lesson, I am going to talk about how I initially approached Astro-planning when I was much younger. You might be tempted to think about this as a “beginning level” or baby steps, but I will tell you from my personal experience that I have talked to many seasoned and advanced Sacred Artists who have not incorporated these steps into their own practices and once they do they are pretty impressed with the results.
Planning By Starlight Part One
Before we get into the Astro-planning part I want to say a few things about planning in general. 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 of your planning done in one day, I don’t get my planning or the year completed in a single week – I take a couple of months to do it.
- Pick your planner(s) – I like both paper and digital planners. I use a Filofax for my paper plans and I use my icalendar for my digital plans. The ical (you could also use outlook or gcal) function is nice because it syncs to my phone and reminds me when I have an appointment. I can also share it 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 a paper version because sometimes weird things happen with digital calendars and if you have a hard copy you are set. If you want more options on planners I highly recommend JetPens. I also like to have my journal by my side.
- Have your materials ready to go! Some of the things I like to have on hand include different 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. I like to have some good music on hand too! You might want to invest in a good lunar calendar and have on hand a resource page with the astrological highlights for the coming year – like this one.
- Plot out any essential dates non-Astro dates first. These might be birthdays, anniversaries, national holidays, or known periods of time when you will be on vacation. If you have children, get their school calendar 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 you are ready to start working with some Astro info! As I wrote above, you can start anywhere. And with astrology, the best place to start is with the really obvious stuff – the celestial bodies that you can actually see with your naked eye. Here are three approaches to help get you started:
Sun Sign ~ 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. These days you can literally google your sun sign if you happen not to know it. 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 it:
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 in 2020 (November 21st – December 20th).
Mark out that time period on your calendar. Your birthday falls in this period so obviously, the star that day. Then, 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. Then ask yourself, what would I like my experience to be this year during this period?
Think about the sun. In traditional 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!
I see the Moon ~ After working with your sun sign you may want to turn your attention to the moon. Lunar-based calendars are some of the oldest and the Moon gives us a reliable way to tell that days are passing because this celestial body actually transforms over a 28 day lunar cycle – going from seeming to be completely invisible in the night sky (during the New Moon) to full and radiant, to 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 lunar calendar. Get one for yourself – there are many to choose from – and treat it as a kind of journal. Each day notice what sign and phase the moon is in – this is a great way to familiarize yourself with the Zodiac too. Every day, jot down a few notes directly into your lunar calendar. These notes should describe how you felt on this day (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.
You may also want to note in your calendars 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.
Pick a Planet, any Planet ~ 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. (And a hot tip for beginning stargazers: 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 really simple. And 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 work 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 that case, you might want to really pay attention to the planet, Venus.
Begin by asking if are there times of the year when she is visible and times when she is not?
Does she have a special day of the week associated with her? (She does, it is Friday).
Is she going to be retrograde (when the planet appears to move backward) at any point in the next year? Mark out those moments on your calendar.
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 then go deeper. Mercury the planet resonated to 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? That might seem like an arcane approach but it is actually 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, follow the same approach outlined above.
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.
And as you do this, do not, for the love of all that is holy, make it abstract. Begin by thinking concretely about the current year we are in. What has worked for you? What has not? Where did you feel like you had enough time and where did you feel like you did not? Having answers to these questions will set you up for excellent success as you look to the stars.
As you answer these questions you might 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 as that will be the topic of our next lesson!