Over coffee, I asked Jonny his plans for the day. He detailed a quest for some particular hot peppers he needed for a new chili powder recipe, followed by warfare with the gophers that have taken over our back yard.
Hot peppers and war? I’m just writing about Aries today; he’s living it.
I have to marvel at these gophers. The soil in our area is expansive clay, and it’s almost literally as hard as rock. When we had our foundations repaired, it took a team of grown men with very serious tools about three weeks to excavate the soil under the front portion of our house. And I’ve seen gophers; they’re not that impressive.
I suppose what they must have going for them is some freakish amalgam of ferocity and determination – all of which makes the gopher a sort of totem animal for this Aries New Moon, which is square Saturn, Pluto, and the Moon’s South Node in Capricorn. Aries symbolizes the rising sap of nascent Spring, the exhilarating energy of a toddler at play, the bloodthirsty instincts of the cheetah; Saturn brings determination, and Pluto the command of the underworld. Our friend the pocket gopher combines them all. But today, my friends, he has met his South Node Waterloo: a homeowner with a grudge.
I wonder sometimes about the law of diminishing returns. Is the gopher really getting enough sustenance from our backyard to make all that hard work (and possible cranial injury) worthwhile? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply move on to a lawn with a couple of feet of friendlier, imported topsoil and more rewarding to find one with a delicious garden?
Of course, I’ve told myself the same thing in the roughly thirty years I’ve spent building a career as an astrologer. I spent probably two decades burrowing through the inhospitable soil of the hardest job I’ve ever had until, finally, the soil began to loosen up. Perhaps, somewhere, an omniscient observer has been watching me for years, puzzled by my tenacity. Maybe an astro-astute co-god pulls out my birth chart from time to time, points to Mars trine Saturn, and says, “Well, she does love a challenge.”
For all I know, that’s what’s really motivating these gophers: they love a challenge. There are few terrains more challenging than our backyard, with its dead grapefruit tree, nasty soil, and profusion of weeds. I will give them credit: it took time and effort, but they have fully conquered the territory.
But tenacity and hard work don’t guarantee success. The New Moon in conflict with realistic Saturn and Pluto also insists that we navigate that fine line between perseverance and futility. And the Moon’s South Node, which encourages us to let go of safety nets that are actually preventing us from realizing our full potential, is asking us to let go of what simply isn’t working for us.
I’m reminded of a client who had toiled away for decades in the inhospitable soil of his own small business. He started out well, but had found it increasingly difficult to flourish in an industry that is itself slowly dying. Instead of growing, his business was actually losing ground, and the writing of the zeitgeist was on the wall. Yet, he wouldn’t give up. Now in his mid-sixties, his financial circumstances and increasingly his health were becoming perilous, and it felt too late to change direction.
Sometimes, we have to be able to accept that we’re not going to succeed at something. Some soil is so compacted that not even our most ferocious drive and engaged spirit can burrow through it. This is not the message an astrologer likes to deliver during Aries season, in the exuberant Northern Hemisphere Spring; the returning Sun and new life all around make it seem impossible that we should fail when our hearts and spirits are so filled with life force.
But we can fail. It happens all the time. Read the story of any successful person and you’ll hear a litany of failures that preceded the success. We mustn’t give up too soon, but we have to learn to recognize when something isn’t working, so we can redirect all that brash enthusiasm toward a more promising enterprise.
At this New Moon, which is trine Jupiter in Sagittarius, big dreams are puffing up like my sourdough starter on a warm, humid day. New directions are beckoning. So take stock of where you may be burrowing in inhospitable soil, and consider whether it’s time to move to a new backyard, where your dreams can aerate the soil and help you move in a happier, more fulfilling direction.