Pisces Full Moon: Zen Moon


As a writer, I experience periodic blocks. I don’t think creative blocks are exclusive to artists. People experience life blocks all the time, periods in your life where despite your best efforts and intentions (or maybe because of them) the things you try to do just don’t seem to get traction or go anywhere. It’s as if, as I described the downside of a Neptune transit to a client recently: God presses the pause button. Then patiently waits for you to figure out that you can’t repeat the same thing you’re doing and get different results. Since you don’t have an answer, or know who or what to be yet, you might as well draw a picture, noodle around on your ukulele, chant mantras and play at being Zen. Till one day you wake up to discover you’re in a place of self-acceptance, you no longer have the same problems you once did… and you’re actually enjoying your self.

Amidst this productive, mentally-oriented Virgo season we experience a reset button in the nonlinear, emotional, visionary Pisces Full Moon. Pisces is the siren call to set your carefully laid plans aside, at least temporarily. To nurture the mystic, dreamer and poet in your self. Daydream. Go for a swim. Do yoga. Write poetry, paint a picture, play with your pets, read a novel, Pisces urges. Especially if you’re feeling stuck, impatient, or feel the fire of God at your back, urging you to get a plan, get your life together, why not take a nap instead? Paint your toenails. Let go. There are certain times in life when doing exactly the opposite of what you think you should be doing actually works. That time is right now.

Periodically abandoning your to-do list, your Sisyphean tasks, and heading for the nearest day spa may sound counterproductive to productivity but science now says the opposite. People who take naps are actually more productive and successful, and so are people who daydream, says Daniel Levitin, Neuroscientist, author of “The Organized Mind” (who also says we have become so bogged down with information, yet feel if we stop we’ll get left behind). “There’s a reset button for sensory overload: daydreaming mode. Daydreaming mode is the reset button. It allows you to refresh and release those neural circuits that get all bound up when you’re focused. It’s good to focus on one thing, practice mindfulness, Zen mind etc. but not for too long. You’ve got to give your brain a break.” If you don’t, he adds, daydreaming actually hi-jacks your brain. For instance, if you’ve ever had the experience of driving from point A to B, and having no recollection of the trip, or reading but not digesting the words, that’s daydreaming mode hi-jacking your brain. You may think you’re losing your mind, when in reality it’s just the brain’s way of saying: Don’t push me. I need downtime.

Granted, you can turn daydreaming into another strategy, another key to efficiency, organisation, more Virgo fodder for your life. Consider this: in America, we’re programmed for productivity, pushing ahead, striving. We continually edit our life, adding new things in, eliminating others, striving to make our life more elegant, improved. We work so hard. There’s nothing wrong with striving, but it does get in the way of having a nice aperitif while sitting on a picnic blanket on a moss green lawn, gazing at the azure blue sky, doesn’t it?

Pisces is a spiritual teacher, a master of disillusionment, reminding us that the happiness we experience in the external world is temporary and will eventually disappoint. Only harmony within our inner self can bring us lasting peace. This Full Moon is the perfect time to bring your inner world into a state of harmony. How? You might start by taking a cleansing Epsom salt bath. Retreat, even just for a few hours. Dance. Abandon your mind and its anxieties. Visit a body of water. Drop into an experience of timelessness. For zany, instructive help in shifting gears, and making joyful peace with life’s hurdles and blocks, SARK has a fun series of instructional books like Eat Mangoes Naked, my favorite. Seek the feeling of limitlessness and joy that you have available to you at any time, inside.  Then, maybe, and probably long after you’ve let go of needing to know all the answers, you’ll create the right conditions for Pisces magic to find you.

Calling Leo


It’s another new moon: when the magically minded make wishes and astrologers attempt to divine this cycle’s intentions. The wishes you make now may indeed be super-powered, but if you don’t have a strong relationship with the archetypes, don’t expect special favors. If you rarely play your cello, don’t expect a starring role in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. New Moons are potent times to forge new alliances with the gods. Visit the invisible world. Bow and open yourself to their touch. Make an offering. Humans have been rendezvousing with these archetypes for thousands of years. When you call out to the gods, they do respond!

Calling Leo

Leo carries finger paints and a portable sandbox wherever he goes. He plays at everything, having never learned that life’s no fun. When he buys his groceries, he wheels his shopping cart with the passion of a diva singing to a sold-out crowd. He invites me to lunch and serves summer fruits in vibrant colors, arranging them thoughtfully on the plate, like a painter. His salad looks like the Eiffel Tower. Everything he does is worthy of applause.

Some say that admiration is all he lives for. But I know this isn’t true. He has known fame. He’s lived in grand houses with opulent gardens, but he’s also stayed in one-room dirt-floor cabins and been just as happy. “Love is everywhere,” he explains. He means the kind you give—which more than makes up for the love we’re all dying to receive. Leo’s heart is as wide as the Grand Canyon. His joy knows no bounds. His smile is constantly radiant. “What’s your secret to happiness?” I once asked him. He thought for a moment, “That’s hard… because I keep discovering new ones. But here’s a current favorite: Let everything you do be as carefree—and important—as a rose blooming in the weeds.”

Leo is star power. That we hunger for this gift explains our fascination with celebrities. Onto their canvas, we paint Leo qualities that are missing from our lives: importance, playfulness, childlike joy. We love to see people richly rewarded just for expressing themselves. They’re living the dream: playing big, being special, andhaving fun! But Leo is a little grumpy these days. He says our obsession with fame has gone too far. “Why appreciate just a few, when everyone has the special stuff? Doesn’t everyone have my Lion in their charts? Feel the love and roar!”

One summer years ago, on Leo’s dare I put fuschia and purple streaks in my hair. “A desperate attempt to look young,” quipped my partner. I understand why he’d say this to a woman nearly sixty years old. But the truth is, I liked these colors and didn’t care much what people thought of them. I felt a need.

I was surprised by what came next. People got friendlier. Their eyes were a little brighter when they looked at me, their smiles more genuine. Handing me change, the cashier at the health food store enthused “I love your hair!” Outside the movie theater an eight-year-old skated by and shouted “Excellent hair!” Women my age confided “Your hair looks great… wish I could do that.”

Every day I see people whose choices inspire me too—like the local bank teller who always wears an amazing array of rings, one on every finger, including her thumbs. This little creative detail gives me a boost every time I see her. She also wears a radiant smile and really seems to enjoy her work. That lifts my day too. Then there’s the opposite experience, when the pizza boy glumly drops off the pizza and how that stains the whole meal.

When we love ourselves, and love what we’re doing, we make the whole world happier. The entire field is energized by the vitality of many individuals joyously being themselves. Though we’re often warned against thinking too much of ourselves, our hearts get stronger when we do. When we know we’re good at something, when we express our passions and our joys without apology or fear, when we put crazy colored streaks in our hair just because we feel like it, we’re calling Leo into our field.

Leo’s Response

Waiting for the response is the fun part. No way can I predict it for you. But in the next few days and weeks, keep your eye out for lions, bright colors, a burst of courage, or the simple delight of feeling the Sun on your skin. You may be praised at work—or get a surprise invitation to a party. A child might run up and hug your knees. Maybe you’ll find yourself singing at full volume in the shower. Leo could arrive as a belly laugh, an artful salad, or maybe it just hits you in a quiet moment—that you’re falling in love with your life all over again.

Leo New Moon: Vein of Gold


When you think of Julia Roberts, do you remember her scowling face in Ocean’s Eleven – or her radiant, megawatt smile in Pretty Woman? She tried her best to transcend the romantic comedy genre (and won an Oscar for her terrific role as bombshell-turned-investigator in Erin Brockovich), yet the world will always remember her as the pretty woman who got the guy despite the odds.

It’s her vein of gold. Consider Robert De Niro, who turns in brilliant performances bonding with other men in tough circumstances, dealing with loyalties and betrayals and wrestling with his own dark side. Romantic comedies are not his forte.

As director Martin Ritt, who coined the term “vein of gold” explains, “All actors have a certain territory, a certain range, they were born to play. If you cast an actor within that range, he will always give you a brilliant performance. Of course, you can always cast an actor outside his vein of gold. If you do, that actor can use craft and technique to give you a very fine, creditable performance, but never a performance as brilliant as when he is working in his vein of gold.”

Julia Cameron writes about this phenomenon in her book The Vein of Gold. She states that we all have something at which we excel—because we have a passion for it. “It’s very important,” she says, “to make art about what we are really interested in, not what we should be interested in. All too often, we aim at writing a script we should write, and when it’s done with, that’s exactly how it reads—like a noble effort, well-meant but somehow hollow. The same holds true for dutiful paintings, meals, poems, letters, even curtains.”

You may not be an artist or an actor, but you can feel when you’re working in your vein of gold—you’re in the zone. Time stops, creativity flows, you feel in charge of things. Your unique spark of the divine springs forth.

That spark is about to be lit at the imaginative, outgoing Leo New Moon (July 26, 3:42 p.m. PDT). Tightly conjunct expansive, enthusiastic Jupiter, this New Moon fully releases the Year of the Horse from its starting gate, where it’s been champing at the bit for months. Creativity and passion are running high, with artistic Venus opposite potent Pluto. And, with Saturn recently direct, we’re able to start hammering out a structure to contain our creative efforts.

So the question is, What do you want to create? That would depend, to some extent, on what house the New Moon activates for you. If it’s in the first house, you’re creating a new image and direction. A fourth house New Moon prompts you to beautify or expand your home. A seventh house New Moon could bring new love, or take your existing relationship into new territory. A tenth house New Moon signals that it’s time for your business to take off. No matter where it falls, make the most of this exuberant fresh start. Find your vein of gold—and have fun bringing forth something that you’re passionate about!

If you need help lighting your spark, check out this Leo New Moon ritual from my book, Astro Feng Shui: Making Magic in Your Home and Life. You’ll also find a mini-video at the bottom of that page showing how I helped an artist friend transform her Creativity and Children gua to bring in more creative flow.

It’s Leo time!


Today the Sun moves into his own sign—ripening his favorite qualities! The Leo season celebrates love, self-confidence, generosity, romance, dignity, joy, enthusiasm, pride, courage, and passion.  This is the month to see life through the eyes of a child.  Children live in the moment; having fun is their primary goal. Especially when they’re feeling safe and seen, their hearts are wide open—to the joy of being an energetic being in a magical world. During Leo’s month you can discover magical powers, if only you’d surrender to its spirit of playfulness. Let yourself flow with the fresh, quick spirit of a child, ready for anything. Let worry and duty fall aside. Leo is the month to be creative, to stand in your own spotlight, to celebrate your life force.

I wasn’t always such a cheerleader for Leo.  In fact, before I knew much about astrology, I knew one thing: I didn’t like Leos. My ex-husband had a Leo Sun, and so did many of the creative types we hung out with—dancers, musicians, and performance artists—energetic show-offs, always grabbing center stage. Leos, I decided, were just tap-dancing toddlers disguised as adults, forever crying “Look at me, look at me!” And throughout my childhood, I hated Leo’s month. It seemed an incredible waste of time—the dreariest stretch of my summer vacation, spent watching Divorce Court and reruns of Father Knows Best, when all I really wanted was to get back to school.

Imagine my surprise when years later when I discovered I had a Leo Moon. It was hidden in my chart’s Twelfth House closet, where what the psyche rejects is held. My dislike of Leo was my own deficiency:  I was blocked in expressing its spirit. Perhaps I paid a steep price for being too kingly in a past life. As a child, whenever I won a school election or an award, I wanted to crawl out of my skin when my mother (the stand-in for my Leo Moon) dramatically ooohed and ahhed, calling me “The Big Cheese.” I wanted attention, but when I got it, I squirmed. And so in later years, when I saw others soaking up the spotlight, I considered their exhibitions shameful.

I have a friend who believes the answer to all life problems is a night on the town, full of drinking and dancing. That’s not how I have fun. But having fun—however one does it—is indeed Leo’s secret. When you can enjoy life, and enjoy yourself in the midst of life, your problems shrink and your confidence grows. I’ve since learned how to tap into the gifts of Leo’s season. I now relish the opportunity each Leo month brings—to be more fully alive, doing what comes naturally, when I enjoy being me. May you enjoy what’s special about you this month too!

If you haven’t been feeling appreciated lately, perhaps the outer world is offering a reflection of your inner world.  Perhaps you haven’t been in much of a mood to appreciate anything, let alone what’s special about you. One way to reverse this trend is to start noticing all the gifts in your outer world–the people, places, and conditions that support you.  The more you recognize what’s wonderful around you, the easier it is to start thinking about your own fine qualities.  Appreciation is good heart medicine all the way around.

© Dana Gerhardt

Scorpio Full Moon: Vital Bonds


Love always involves a dance between closeness and putting up walls. We love each other, hurt, annoy and frustrate each other. Lately I’ve been doing the latter, tainting the precious time we have together with emotional jujitsu. I feel irrational when he talks too long and laughs too hard with the wait staff on date night, so I pick a fight goes something like “I’m not enough for you?” though as I am saying this I know I’m being dishonest. Those aren’t my true feelings, but an excuse for a clingy-ness I don’t yet understand.

Then one day I remember to look at my transits (just as “the cobbler’s children have no shoes”, I often forget). A-ha! Saturn is trine my Venus. Our pair-bond is maturing. I think about how slowly the kids have left for college – our youngest will go this fall, we don’t have a full house anymore and it seems, almost imperceptibly, we’ve each started to fill that empty space. I’m nestling into my domestic haven, pets, spiritual work; he’s surfing and socialising. He is visiting Inca ruins in Peru; I’d rather be meditating. I can see this bothers us both. We each want the other to be doing what it is we’re doing. We both want closeness and our freedom.

Saturn is the crystallized structure of habits and patterns we’ve developed, a garden container, Venus, the intertwined roots of our partnership. “We” are ready for more space. We’ve outgrown our Saturn pot. The truth is, I don’t want certain things to change.  As having kids around will do, we’d cultivated our relationship patterns and pleasures around domestic life, making family meals together, and stealing non-kid time for the joys of togetherness. I didn’t like having to steal time but I enjoy domestic life: cooking family meals, our weekend plans revolving around the house. I have Venus in Cancer. I also want freedom for everyone (me, too) to do whatever the heck they please (Venus square Uranus in Libra). It’s a conundrum and as Saturn shifts the biological timeline of life, our connection, our shared pleasures must mature, too.

Even during robust Taurus Sun springtime season, we must face the reality of change. This Scorpio Full Moon wants us to face the things we don’t want to face, connect with our strong emotions, and to honestly communicate what we feel. The terrain is our most intimate relationships, the people we most care about…hence the difficult emotions. Scorpio Moon’s shadow is moody self-absorption and self-isolation, i.e., what you feel when your emotions are so intensely charged with old wounds, insecurities, perceived threats and abandonment fears that you lash out or hole up. And then: what if the honesty required is too painful to admit, even to ourselves? With Venus in Aries now square Pluto, the distancing strategies we’ve been using to avoid addressing real topics have grown stale. We need to reveal more of our humanness, our vulnerable, naked feelings to partners, to our self. We need to stop hiding the truth of our humanness, our pain, our raw hurt and fear, behind drama and avoidance.

Saturn is joined with the Moon at this Full Moon.  Maybe, like me, you have outgrown a stable “the way things have always been” pot in your life. Maybe you can, with awareness, transplant what’s alive and salvageable into a new container and avert bigger, darker issues down the road…or maybe the pot will not so delicately splinter and breaks wide open so Spirit can grow. Liberating Uranus is joined Venus: the bonds of connections and pleasure need to be refreshed, renewed and revitalized. People need to be valued, relationships need to be restored, pleasures redefined. To Uranus, it really doesn’t matter how this happens, but that it does.

The gift of this Scorpio Full Moon is an ability to honestly see the truth of our reality and act on that insight. When we feel and communicate the personal and interpersonal fears that have been holding us back, we’re freed up to more fully live, and enjoy each other. Brooding gives way to the awe-ful, sometimes tragic, always deeply moving dance of life, death, change.  Dark moodiness releases into the deep gratitude we have for life, and those we love. As we restore emotional integrity to our vital bonds, we’re free to enjoy the beauty in life.

© 2014 by Jessica Shepherd

Image: Ourobos photo collage by David Adams

Ask the Oracle – April 29, 2014

For the past 4 years, my marriage of 32 years has been on the brink of collapse. We just could not get along. With the pressure of an empty nest after raising 4 kids and major philosophical, political and spiritual differences; basically, it appears that we have very little in common. And, of course, this led to some “knock down, drag out” fights, very painful. Finally, after 4 years of this I said to myself “this is enough, I’ve had it, we’re splitting!” He flatly refuses to go to counseling and I know he was ready to separate also even though he still  says he loves me. Just lately the discord has almost vanished. Now a time of peace but the wounds are still open and I can’t even get my feelings back on track to “love” him. I just play this gun shy, uncommitted wife trying to let our love flow on. What do you see in our charts? Thank you so – my birthday is March 5, 1954 and my husband’s birthday is February 7, 1955. (MC)

The complete Saturn cycle of approximately 29 years is always a critical time to reevaluate, review and be willing to release what we committed to at the beginning of that cycle whether that is a marriage, a career, a belief system or any other important structure in our life. The question is “does this serve me, my growth and my joy any longer?” and is there a more conscious, desired structure I have evolved toward, can  and desire to choose for my future.

If you believe in karma and/or destiny, this is the time when you are not only free to make a new choice, to trust that you have completed your responsibilities in the previous structure but the time when you are called by your soul/life journey to make a new choice if that is the healthiest and most satisfying choice or to renew and recommit to the past situation if it can be reborn for the present and future.

Your marriage upheaval arose at 28 years of partnership, led to a near split and though the battles have calmed, nothing has improved in the marriage. No counseling, very little in common now other than a significant history which is in the past and painful, open wounds. If you can’t get your feelings “back on track to love him” maybe you are just done, complete. Your husband probably does “love” you though you do not describe feeling love for him anymore. Perhaps, your family and children were the purpose of your years together. If you had shown me this chart comparison years ago asking if this man was your ideal mate, life partner, I would have said no.

Yet, your husband’s Jupiter is conjunct your South Node of the Moon in Cancer which is an indicator of the potential, even the karma or destiny to have a family together. His Saturn trines your Moon in the 7th house of marriage and he has supported you, had children with you, raised a family with you which you both wanted (South Nodes in Cancer, the sign of family).

Relish what you have accomplished together. I suspect that you have been done with this marriage for at least 7 years due to progressions and transits that would be complex to describe here. While it is rightly your decision to stay or go, I can see a new and different future for you in your chart if that is what you choose. Offer yourself the freedom to choose, trust your excellent Pisces feelings and intuition to guide your choice.

I was born November 18, 1970. I have had a lot of upheaval in my life the past 3 years; falling in love, starting a new job, quitting that job months later to  move to Hawaii with my fiance, getting married, and then 2 years later finding out that my husband cheated on me. We are now back on track with our marriage after going to counseling, but I still feel confused about my life in general. Where is it  headed and what do I do to find fulfillment? I feel like I’ve just been spinning my wheels since we moved to Hawaii. Later this year my husband is retiring after which we will both be moving to another country and have been discussing having a baby or doing volunteer work. I guess I’m wondering if this drastic change will somehow help me find my life purpose? (MA)

Wow, yes, you have indeed had 3 or more years of upheaval in your life  which we can see in transiting Neptune squaring your natal Sun, transiting Saturn  conjuncting your natal Mars, transiting Neptune squaring your natal Neptune, transiting Uranus opposing your natal Uranus, transiting Pluto squaring your natal Uranus, transiting Uranus opposing your natal Pluto, and transiting Saturn in Scorpio moving across your Scorpio Venus/Jupiter/Sun and squaring your natal Moon as transiting Pluto squares your natal Uranus.  Upheaval, change, challenge, confusion, disappointment, disillusionment, yet also, falling  in love, getting married, going to counseling, getting your marriage back on track and   looking toward an amazing number of choices for your future. When we see all 3 of the trans-personal planets challenging our identity, life and future in a few years you can expect to see your life turned upside down. This is the good news. It was time to let go  and change/challenge everything in your previous life, to open every door making each   choice for your future a conscious one.

Congratulations to you and your husband for your courage to make so many changes, to go into counseling and to now be willing to consider these new possibilities for your future together. Your marriage was a crucial piece of your destiny as it occurred when your progressed Moon, ruler of your 7th house of marriage, conjuncted your Ascendant while the potential for the improvement and healing of your marriage is visible in Jupiter’s transit into your 7th house.

A move to another country should be beneficial and successful during this next year as your progressed Venus (ruler of your 9th house of long distance moves) conjuncts your natal Sun. Fulfillment is the most   important question for this time of your life as transiting Pluto reaches its conjunction to  your Ascendant opening the door to your deepened, empowered awareness of yourself,  your desires, your potential, your independence (the ability to be yourself not the need to  be alone),  and your ability to initiate what you most want/are called to be and do in this life.

Pluto will be your challenging companion for the next 2 years as you begin, experiment,  risk finding your fulfillment through following your intuition and desires. If you truly want a child, this is the time (the next 2 years as transiting Venus, the ruler of your 5th house of children, conjuncts your natal Sun) to become pregnant yet I would also suggest you seek a role in the world through which you can make a contribution in the world that is meaningful to you. Born with your Sun/Jupiter/Venus in the 10th house and your chart ruler, Saturn, in your 4th house makes both your 10th house role in the world and your 4th house home/location/family equally important to your fulfilled life.

Pisces New Moon: Soulful Communion


Kristi Rodriguez’ ten-year-old son Sean was struggling with reading in school. One day Rodriguez, a program coordinator for the Animal Rescue League in Berks County, PA, had an inspiration. She decided to bring Sean in to read to the shelter’s cats. He loved it so much – and so did the cats – that she knew she was onto something. So Rodriguez launched The Book Buddies Program in August 2013. Since then Sean has shown great improvement in his reading. And, over 20 children grades 1 to 8 visit the ARL on a weekly basis, where they enjoy reading to and bonding with an appreciative feline audience.

The program is a win-win for all concerned, especially kids struggling in school, who receive small prizes for each book they read aloud. And, the shelter’s cats enjoy the rhythmic vocal sounds, while they get some much-needed company and socialization. “One little boy has autism and his mom home schools him,” says Beth Ireland, the shelter’s marketing director. “He’s blossomed while he’s here. It’s so sweet to watch.”

Soulful communion, interspecies bonding, joyful learning—all depicted by the upcoming Pisces New Moon in exact trine to expansive Jupiter (March 1, 12:00 am PST). Watery Pisces connects us all at the deepest level, while stationary Jupiter in connective Cancer brings the urge to bond as it prepares to turn forward within a week. Plus, messenger Mercury turns direct on Feb. 28, just prior to the New Moon, bringing greater mental clarity and helping us release internal frustrations from the last three weeks. Sounds like cause for celebration, eh? Yes, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Tough love planets Mars and Saturn turn retrograde on March 1 and 2, respectively. Mars’ retrograde turn in Libra (through May 19) demands that we review and re-evaluate agreements and partnerships, while Saturn’s backward turn in Scorpio (thru July 19) plunges us into deep waters to heal old wounds and reassess emotional or financial commitments we’ve made since last fall. This combination will require finesse and patience, especially through May. Yet the transcendent nature of the March 1 New Moon suggests that great blessings are coming if we just keep the faith, stay centered in our hearts and have compassion for one another. Still, it’s wise to be extra cautious this weekend, especially when it comes to travel, finances and relationships, as Mars and Saturn both station retrograde.

To tap into the mysterious, psychic nature of the Pisces New Moon, try this Water Gazing ritual from my book, Astro Feng Shui: Making Magic in Your Home and Life. On that page you’ll also find a mini-video of my Health gua makeover at the center of one couple’s home – which led to a whole new life for them.


Pisces New Moon: Closing the Circle


The circle—a timeless image used in Tibetan mandalas, Native American medicine wheels, and astrology—conveys the ever-turning wheel of life.  And in the circle of the year, the Pisces New Moon always arrives before the Spring Equinox.  In three weeks, the Sun will emerge from Pisces into Aries, signaling the start of a new astrological cycle. Thus this New Moon in watery Pisces, the last sign of the Zodiac, is an appropriate time to close out the old year with reflection and meditation.  “Life is lived forward, but understood backwards,” wrote the philosopher Kierkegaard—a fitting phrase for this month’s Pisces meditation.

As the mystic artist of the Zodiac, Pisces weaves a meaningful narrative out of life’s seemingly random events.  Peering through the Moon’s eye, then, we draw on Pisces’ visionary capacity to help us make sense of the jumble of circumstances that have transpired over the last twelve months.  Where were you in your life, for instance, a year ago? What was the condition of your intimate relationships? At what stage were your creative projects? What were your hopes and ideals? How have you stayed the same, and where have you changed course? The world has altered dramatically in the past year, and so, in large and small ways, have all our lives.

After you have looked back over your journey this past year, continue with your meditative reflections.  Emptying your mind of everyday distractions, contemplate whether a pattern of some kind emerges out of the cascading chaos of recollected images and events. In surveying all that has happened through the visionary eye of the Pisces Moon, a design may become apparent: the myth of your life may come shining through.  Perhaps the saga you have been living is that of the hero, overcoming great obstacles and  slaying the dragons of doubt.  Or, maybe you have been living the epic myth of love, deepening your heart’s knowledge of the human condition. It is possible that your life quest this past year has been one of service, artistic endeavor, or of learning the ways of magic.

Whatever myth has been revealed, now is the time to turn the page on a new chapter in the unfolding story of your life.  Because astrology reflects the temporal, and not the eternal, dimension of life, it offers a beautiful structure to help us transition gracefully through the endings and beginnings of our cyclical lives.  So this Pisces New Moon, take whatever wisdom you have learned this past year, and consecrate it to the next passage in your mythic journey.  Looking back one last time, take all the sorrows and losses, the mistakes and confusion, the gains and successes, and thank them for the knowledge with which they have blessed you. Then, drawing down courage from the Moon, look forward into the future for the next stage of your adventure!

Leo Full Moon: The Grateful Flow


Creativity is a quality that most astrologers associate with Leo, the sign of this Full Moon, and with its ruler, the Sun. Absolutely everyone is creative, with a mad desire to connect with a powerful and loving Source, although many people deny that they’re creative at all. But if you ask them to remember a situation in which they lost all track of time because they were doing something they enjoyed, nearly everyone can come up with something. It might have been something as simple as dead-heading roses, organizing a closet, or playing fantasy football. “But that’s not creative!” we might object, imagining that creative people wear berets and wield paintbrushes.

Of course, passionate absorption in anything is the hallmark of creativity. The moment when you’re fully and happily engrossed in some activity, delighting in its nuances and solving its delectable puzzles, you’re engaged in what therapist Phil Stutz calls The Grateful Flow. In his book The Tools, Stutz describes five techniques he uses to help his patients build happier and more fulfilling lives. The Grateful Flow uses gratitude to retrain the mind away from the endless loop of negativity and toward joyful engagement.

For instance, if you’re doing something just for the money, because your boss demands it, or because your readers expect to hear from you twice a month; if you’re preoccupied with how much better you should be doing something, or whether it will be well received by others—you’re not in the Grateful Flow. To motivate yourself with the sting of the whip is the opposite of creativity, which is spontaneous, joyful, and self-directed.

As a writer, I’m no stranger to the whip. I’ve been writing about astrology now for nearly a quarter of a century. In some ways it gets easier and easier, but in one very important way it is harder now than it used to be: Now, I feel self-conscious because many more people are reading the things that I write. It’s easy to give into fear that what I write will be less compelling than others things I’ve written, or might offend somebody. Each time I finish a new article, my finger hovers for a moment over the “publish” button; I’m a little bit anxious about what will happen next.

When we fall into the ego trap, playing out Leo’s self-aggrandizing shadow side, we’re especially vulnerable to creative blocks. “The moment you claim credit for your success, you also have to take the blame for any future failure,” Stutz points out. His antidote to creative anxiety is to connect to the Source by thanking it for what you already have. Literally, any time you notice your mind visiting familiar neighborhoods of negativity, reroute it with thoughts about the things, people, and circumstances for which you’re grateful. Gratitude opens the heart to the world around you in the same way being in love makes the world seem like a kinder and more benevolent place. You’re not only happy, but inspired—available to receive whatever ideas and inspirations come your way.

The technique sounds simple, but changing attitudes always takes time, effort, and discipline. Luckily for those of us who wish to practice the Grateful Flow, the chart for this Full Moon finds the Sun and Moon in a high-energy t-square with Saturn. Wait— luckily? Astrologically, the square aspect is a bit like the slap that revives a movie character who has fainted away from “the vapors.” It’s a wake-up call. And if there’s a god of negativity, we would almost certainly imagine it would be Saturn. Surely this Full Moon chart has all the earmarks of a phone that rings all night with calls from telemarketers!

But Saturn is not inherently the god of negativity. He is the parent who provides a playpen to keep us safe while we amuse ourselves. He helps us develop the discipline and patience to acquire the skills we need to do things well. When you watch an Olympic ice skater make a spectacular leap with apparent ease, you are watching someone who is in the Grateful Flow. What you are seeing, in that seemingly effortless moment, is the hours and days and months and years of work that makes such magic possible. What you’re seeing is someone who has a close, loving relationship with Saturn.

Leo is the sign that symbolizes our connection with the Source, whether you imagine it as God or physics or something else entirely. For our purposes, you may simply imagine it as a huge battery that generates more than enough energy and inspiration for everyone. In our Leo/Solar selves, we develop creative ways to connect to that loving, powerful source. 

At the Leo Full Moon, the source is close enough to touch. But the Sun and Moon square Saturn suggests a state of apprenticeship. You’re nearly ready to dazzle the world with a spectacular leap, but first, you have some work to do.

Begin by practicing the Grateful Flow. When negative habits of mind threaten to close you down, comfort yourself with a mantra of gratitude for the vibrant lemon, fresh off the tree; the friend who always makes you laugh; the parents who cared enough to make you do your homework. This simple tool is like a USB connection to a limitless source of creativity and joy, and it’s all yours. All you have to do is show up, do the work, and let the gratitude flow.

How can you use your birth chart to magnetize the career and clients that are right for you? Order my Astro*Marketing lecture and workbook!

© 2014 by April Elliott Kent

Painting by Claudia Fernety. See more of Claudia’s work at her website.

Leo Full Moon: Fallen Stars


I, like many, was surprised to hear about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death last week. As an actor and human he seemed to be in a genre completely of his own, and because he had touched me in that place few actors do, I was saddened. I didn’t know he had a history with addiction, and that he relapsed last year; now we all know. In the media, compassionate articles like Russell Brand’s “my life without drugs” re-circulated (he wrote this after Amy Winehouse died of an overdose last year), and there have been more discussions since. A NYTimes article talked about the impact his death has had on fellow members of the AA community who shared their collective fear: If it can happen to a man 23 years sober, can it happen to me?

Scorpio rules the realm of things that we can’t see, things that go bump in the night: our fears, addictions, death. With Saturn transiting Scorpio, we are afraid of death and change, losing control, of losing. Some things, like addiction, can make us more intimate with being brought to our knees, of potentially losing the battle. As Brand said, “I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong. I still survey streets for signs of the subterranean escapes that used to provide my sanctuary.” We all have shadows that hungrily stalk us in the nighttime alleyways of our fears. I have a friend whose ongoing health problems have gone on for so long, been so confusing, disheartening and egregious, that openly shares that she has lost faith in life, God. Suicidal thoughts haunt her, thoughts of losing her haunt me.

This Leo Full Moon is square Saturn in Scorpio, and sextile Mars in Libra. A sparkly Leo Full Moon always favors self-expression, celebration and declarations of affection, just in time for V-Day, but just as Valentine’s Day rarely lives up to the hype, this Moon receives a sobering square from Saturn. This doesn’t have to be depressing. Mars and Saturn demand, courage, action. Acknowledging what’s weighing heavy on our hearts, what’s ripe for doing, is freeing.  People we love may require proof (Saturn) of our commitment. The achievements (Saturn) we’re celebrating need our acknowledgement for the long and difficult journey getting here. For some, with Saturn fact-checking how we spend our time and energy, we may need to swallow our pride, admit defeat to our resistance or a fruitless activity- difficult for the Fixed signs.

No one likes losing, to death, to anything, yet the sexiest and most loved people in the world lose, too. If you think money or love can inoculate you against the pain of losing control, think again. Love makes everyone a loser. You wait all your life for love, fearing it won’t happen for you…your Beloved finds you, then you fear their death. I’ll never forget the time I accompanied John to have his wisdom teeth pulled, an apparently simple operation but one that made my knees shake, my stomach quell and led to me lying down on a gurney while John lay happily unconscious (note: if I care about you, I’m not a reliable companion in surgery).

No one knows more about the pain of losing than my neighbors, the Brooks. Years ago, their 17 year-old daughter Casey took her life. Now, at the posthumous request of Casey (through a medium), they’ve finally published this book that tells of the agonizing journey every parent experiences after a suicide. The search for the answer to “why?” revealed Casey, adopted from Poland, had a condition called attachment disorder, a potential cause for her suicide. Today they hope the book will give others the information they didn’t have in time to save Casey. For these folks, this teary Full Moon accomplishment is indeed bitter and sweet.

Why confront the difficult at this typically cheerful Leo Full Moon? With Saturn squaring this Moon, what we most need to do is feel into the hard stuff, let it open our heart. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death has helped us all better understand addiction, and will in all likelihood shock some people into sobriety, saving lives; Casey’s story will land in the right hands at the right time, too. Maybe we’re not fully alive until we’ve faced our death. Maybe we can’t feel the full aliveness of loving another until we’ve faced their impending loss. This is the best of Saturn in Scorpio: the honest conversations we need to be having are happening. Even if some days turning on your Facebook stream, or talking with your neighbor, feels like open-heart surgery, fallen stars shine no less bright once out of our line of vision. In loss, some shine even brighter.

© 2014 by Jessica Shepherd

Image: “Fallen Stars in the Blue” by kaikaku, from Deviantart.com