According to the GAO, every year, influenza brings an average 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States–but suddenly the flu is news! For days hysterical media outlets have been busy counting single digit flu deaths around the globe, with panicky newscasters proclaiming “ten million deaths” could follow. Louise Hay says that “fear” and “mass negativity” are underlying beliefs that spread the flu. Says astrologer Eric Frances: “Energetically, influenza is all about fear. I would reach so far as to say that if you’re afraid of this thing, you’ve caught the flu.” Pluto in Capricorn will continue to bring us many opportunities to outgrow our fears. The triple conjunction of Jupiter Neptune and Chiron, beginning this month and continuing through next year, gives us an immediate choice: we can attune ourselves to go hysterical or to heal. Chiron is the wounded healer; the energies of Jupiter and Neptune can make us divinely inspired visionaries or just overly impressionable. Vitamin C, vitamin D, tuning into your inner wisdom, and turning off the TV are all great ways to immunize yourself against fear–which is also a great way to make the world a safer place.
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Recently a famous guru visited our town and offered “darsan”. A couple hundred of us descended on the church, then knelt and crawled to the little rug where we offered our bent heads to her transformative touch. I admit it: I felt nothing. But I did feel something a couple weeks later in the YMCA parking lot. As I opened my car door, a toddler appeared (his mother was standing nearby). He had the biggest bluest eyes I’d ever seen. “Washoonaym” he said. After a confused moment, I realized his meaning. “It’s Dana,” I replied, “And what’s your name?” He didn’t answer, but turned again with great enthusiasm to his mother, “It’s Dana!” He clapped his hands with glee. His mother and I smiled at each other and as I walked away, I heard him say again, “Her name is Dana!” His mother softly instructed, “You should have told her your name.” But I was already gone… in the bliss of being touched so deeply by this little guru whose teaching was just what I needed. His giddy un-selfconsciousness was like a Zen stick on my head, rousing me from my usual self-concern. It said: Forget yourself and savor life! Feel the joy of meeting everything fresh! Now as I consider my vows for this Taurus New Moon, I wonder what it would be like to greet each stranger, everyone and everything, with the same un-selfconscious enthusiasm as that little boy had shown me. To step out my door and shout “It’s a blue sky!” Or in the afternoon at Starbucks “It’s the guy making coffee and his name is Aaron!” And if I could see you reading this, I’d want to say “It’s you! It’s you! I’m so glad you’re here!”
Another sign of the recession: Ira Glass recently reported on This American Life that there’s a surprising increase of people going to the dentist with broken teeth these days. Apparently there’s plenty of grinding, gnashing and serious worry going on–another indication of Saturn-ruled Capricorn’s influence on Pluto. Saturn rules teeth and worry, bones and fear. My teeth would probably suffer too if I had just lost my job with the mortgage due. The church billboard down the street says “Why worry when you can pray?” I remember seeing the following on a coffee mug belonging to a hospital billing clerk: “Name one problem worrying ever solved.” It’s true–I could not name one. The Neo-Platonist Marcel Ficino believed that the best antidote to Saturn’s worry and depression is Venus. Evoking the spirit of Venus can be a kind of prayer. If you find yourself worrying now, you could try this. Find the prettiest thing in the room and stare it for a good long while. Eat some chocolate. Spray the room with the scent of lavender and roses. Make sure you’re surrounded by beauty, especially before you go to sleep and when you wake up. It just might save a trip to the dentist.
The gods speak to us in many ways–through soaring hawks, sudden rainbows, and viral YouTube videos. No doubt it was Venus who sent us Susan Boyle. At the tail end of her retrograde, Venus had just backed from Aries into Pisces when Susan Boyle walked awkwardly across the “Britain’s Got Talent” stage, a frumpy middle-aged woman with bushy eyebrows and a dated cocktail dress who instantly changed the world with her magical “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Venus was at her strongest this past week–in the degree of her direct station. And what a spokeswoman Venus selected for us! Unemployed, never been kissed, Boyle looked so average she could have been you or me or the homeless woman down the street. The crowd judged her immediately and began snickering. Venus had us in the palm of her goddess hands. With Boyle’s first note, Venus delivered her very Aries message: “Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Stand in your strength. Be passionate about your life and your dreams. Even if your back is against the wall during these difficult times, watch Susan and be inspired.” And we did, millions and millions of us.
I have a history of painful separations with this particular Venus retrograde. Every eight years she retrogrades in Aries through my 8th house of births and deaths. First there was the loss of a husband, then friends, my community–and now, my partner had left to take a job in California. His move is a good one and we keep in touch almost daily through Skype. Still his absence brings a lot of pain, stirring up what’s unresolved in our relationship, and raising old grief from previous separations.
So at the last full moon, with a skittery heart, I went to the baths with my friend Holly. It was ladies night, when the moon, mineral water, naked breasts, gossip and laughter always heals my soul. I was crying and telling Holly how my heart was aching, when a young mother, her beautiful body, full as a ripe pear, rose up and addressed the group. “I believe in the power of women,” she said. “And I would like you to help me by joining in a prayer, a blessing, that would encourage the father of my young daughter to step up and take an interest in her.” Her 10-month-old daughter, wide-eyed, was held in another woman’s arms. Someone recited a prayer. We all raised our hands. Holly whispered, “Dana, this is a prayer for you too.” Then somebody gasped and pointed. Twenty turkey vultures were circling above, a cloud continually dissolving and reforming itself as it moved across the sky. “They eat dead things,” another said. I thought of all my dead griefs and hoped the vultures would take them.
Driving home, the full moon was behind me and Venus was glowing in the west. That night I slept deeply. When I awoke, I could no longer find my pain. Instead I found myself in joyful tears at nearly everything I saw.
Whenever some poor soul guns down several innocents, and the news cameras descend so that we might watch hour after hour of some town’s misery, I go to my ephemeris to see which planetary culprit has brought us this story. Yesterday in Binghamton, when Jiverly Wong turned his powerlessness into rage and killed 13 people and himself, Mars opposed Saturn and Pluto–planet of power and mayhem–was stationing retrograde. Then in Pittsburgh, another gunman acted out his impotence by donning a bullet-proof vest and lying in wait for the officers called to his house. In Wagner, a father kills his five children after discovering his wife was leaving him for another man. Mars Saturn oppositions can elicit destructive energy–also frustrated rage. Sometimes Pluto stations will bring deadly explosions; often enough unexpected violence is in the news. Knowing the planets involved gives us better alternatives than mere rubber-necking. We know which god requires our attention. Mars, Saturn and Pluto ask us to look into issues of self-assertion, respect, and power, willing to transform whatever negativity we find. Search for the shadow Jiverly in your own (hopefully less precarious) life. Where do you feel frustrated and powerless? Touch in and offer compassion to yourself–then to all the victims around the globe.
I’m happy to hear the war on terror is over. At least, the Obama administration will no longer be using that phrase, favoring the cool and abstract “Overseas Contingency Operation” instead. The signature phrase of the Bush administration, “War on Terror” translates in astro-speak to a Mars Pluto opposition. Any astrologer will tell you that Mars/Pluto oppositions are awful. They’re ruthless, violent, and brutal, also un-winnable as both sides dig in, unwilling to give up. Now that these archetypes have been freed from their terrible dance (it’s an “operation”–something surgical, more Saturn), Mars and Pluto are floating in the atmosphere, unemployed. I propose we offer them a new position soon–perhaps as a conjunction or trine. In their positive expression, Mars and Pluto bring great force, the ambition and confidence to solve big problems, a determination that ensures great success. Mars is the Masculine; Pluto transforms what it touches. Now that the War on Terror is over, let us imagine a global Transformation of Masculine energy, where men take their place in service to the Divine Feminine, acting in the direction of love, beauty, and light. I do know men like this. We should admire and support them. We should also imagine many more of them stepping up around the globe.