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    Working with the Moving Lunar Nodes

    As July opens, the Moon’s north node lies at just under 20 degrees of Taurus. By the end of the month, it has retrograded (the Mean nodes are always retrograde) to just over 18 degrees of Taurus. That’s a swing of about 1 degree 35 minutes.

    Do you have any particular astrological sensitivity to those degree areas – say, the Sun in 19 degrees of Scorpio (an opposition) or the Moon in 19 degrees of Aquarius (the square)? If so, is the karmic wave about to break for you? Is something huge and fated about to happen?

    Maybe. Maybe not. Read on.

    Every 18.5997 years – that is just a little over every eighteen years, seven months –  the  transiting nodal axis completes one cycle through the Zodiac. The south node returns to zero degrees of Aries, in other words. Another way to express this is that the lunar nodes spend about a year and half passing through each sign. 

    In my experience, don’t count on these nodal transits to correlate reliably with anything big. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen them pass pretty much unnoticed and I’ve seen them rock people’s’ worlds. For an example of the latter, Will Smith’s natal Moon lies in 21 degrees 8 minutes of Scorpio. When he lost his temper and hit Chris Rock at the Oscars last March, the transiting south node was in 22 degrees 2 minutes Scorpio – bull’s eye, in other words, smack on his Moon. The south node was conjunct it and north node opposed it – in that very emotional moment. What kind of unresolved Scorpionic karma was welling up from his psychic depths? Was he hitting Chris Rock or some ghostly figure from the past?

    Whatever the answer, that edgy, Scorpionic moment will mark his public image for the rest of his life.

    Chickens and Eggs

    On June 1, 2021, at 9:21 pm-pdt in Santa Monica, California, my dear friends Linnea Miron and Ricky Williams had a little boy. They named him Sol Forrest Miron – and I bet that middle name caught your eye almost as quickly as it caught mine. Actually he’s named after me only in the sense of synchronicity. Linnea’s mom picked out the name from a list of possibilities. I’ve never met her nor at any time did I slip her a twenty dollar bill. But Sol and I do have a connection. I’m grandpa. Sometimes, with babies, you just know there’s karma there, just like with the adults you meet.

    While pregnant with Sol, Linnea asked me one of those simple-sounding questions that sends you spiraling into questioning your basic understanding of the universe. Little Sol is a Gemini. Linnea wondered if he was a Gemini because he was born on June 1st, or the other way around? Was he born on June 1st because “he was already a Gemini in his soul” even though he hadn’t gotten around to being born yet?

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    Some Thoughts About Pop Astrology

    Here are the first 39 astrological words that I ever published anywhere outside of my local community: “Back in the fifties when I was a little boy, I once put a quarter in a vending machine inscribed with paintings of various improbable creatures. Out came a packet describing the traits associated with my Sun Sign, Capricorn.” Those are the opening lines of the foreword to my first book, The Inner Sky, which came out back in summer 1984. The text went on from there: “the message was that I was shy and uptight, but that while no one would ever be very excited about me, I could console myself with the knowledge that I would probably get rich.”

    Those were hard words to read at the tender age of ten or so! The worst part was that they sort of halfway fit me, at least back then. Famously, far worse than a lie is a half-truth – they can be far more seductive. I doubt I was the first person to be hurt by that kind of pigeon-holing pop astrology. Somehow I think it planted an aspiration in me that I would be among the last.

    Bantam Books publishing The Inner Sky naturally opened a lot of doors for me. Miraculously, even though the book came out nearly forty years ago, I still believe pretty much every word I wrote in those pages. What I regret is not something I wrote, but rather what I did not write. And here it is in a nutshell: If it were not for that vending machine and its depressing message about Capricorn, I might never have become an astrologer. For all its many flaws, I cannot escape the fact that silly Sun Sign astrology gave me a start on the life I live today. I should be more grateful to it, whatever damage it might have wreaked upon my developing psyche. Even though that little packet about Capricorn was rigid in its delineation of my nascent personality and discouraging about my fate, it contained enough kernels of truth that I was intrigued. 

    As I suspect is also the case with many of you, the seeds of my interest in astrology had to fight their way into my life through the tangle of religious, cultural, and scientific barbed wire. For me,  that was amplified by me being an academically promising little boy in the strait-jacket culture of the late 1950s. Worse, for astrology to take hold of my imagination, the smattering of wisdom in that 25-cent packet had to fight against its own pandemonium of obvious errors. Looking back, it is a miracle that astrology won. 

    But it did. 

    Are We All Suffering from Late-Stage Capricornosis?

    A couple of weeks ago, Michelle and I hiked up the most popular “tourist” canyon in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near where we live. It wasn’t exactly crowded, but we probably crossed tracks with thirty or forty other hikers. Passing someone on the trail, it’s my custom to say hi. Many returned my greeting, but I was struck by how many walked past us stone-faced and silent, as if we weren’t there at all. 

    “Ah . . . another sad example of dreaded Late-Stage Capricornosis,” I said to myself. Let me explain . . .

    Pluto entered Capricorn back in 2008 and it’ll be criss-crossing back and forth over the Aquarius frontier between March 2023 and November 2024. On April 1, 2022, it’s in 28 degrees 24 minutes of Capricorn – getting into the last degree and a half of the sign . . . hence my reference to the “late stage” of our current disorder. Those late degrees of a sign always have a special intensity. Picture a college dormitory at about 11:00 pm on the night before final exams. Naturally, you’ll be impressed by the scholarly zeal of the students. Every nose is buried in a book and will probably will stay that way until the wee hours. In much the same fashion, there was an Englishman who was going to be hung in the morning. Someone asked him how he felt about that. He said, “it composes the mind most excellently.” 

    The Jupiter-Neptune Conjunction and Your Spiritual Self-Confidence

    Astrologers everywhere are intrigued by the upcoming conjunction of Jupiter and Neptune. No doubt it will dominate the astrological blogosphere for the next several weeks. Keep perspective though – Jupiter’s relatively fast orbit guarantees that these alignments are not really rare events. These two planets are conjunct every twelve or thirteen years. At first glance, this might not seem to be a truly epochal astrological event. But this particular apparition promises to be a doozy. That’s because it is happening in Pisces. Astrologers might argue over which one of these planets actually rules that sign, but they all agree that it’s one of them. I prefer to think of Pisces as being ruled by both planets – and everyone agrees that when a planet is in the sign it rules, it is simply coming at us at a higher volume. Hence the reason this year’s Jupiter-Neptune conjunction promises to be pyrotechnical – we have these two gas giants, both at maximum amperage, and joining forces.

    Stand back, in other words.

    Pisces represents many possibilities, but among them, it is the sign of the mystic. That means that the doorway to a transcendent dimension of the Jupiter-Neptune alignment will be wide open for anyone who wants to pass through it. That perspective on the conjunction is what I want to explore in this newsletter. First, let’s talk about timing. At one level, it’s very straightforward: Jupiter and Neptune form a single perfect conjunction on April 12, 2022. The next one will not happen until March 2035. This April, the alignment happens at 23 degrees 59' of Pisces, then it  quickly fades away as Jupiter pulls ahead, crossing into Aries on May 10. That’s where everything gets a little more interesting. Jupiter makes it a third of the way into Aries, then seemingly changes its mind and heads back to give Neptune a final kiss. It retrogrades into back Pisces on October 27, making a station on November 23 at 28 degrees 48'. On that day, Neptune is at 22 degrees 40' – which means that the two planets are only about 6 degrees apart and in the same sign. By anyone’s standards, that’s a conjunction too, just not a precise one.


    February 2022: Solar Returns

    Many years ago, at the exact moment of my birth, the Sun was located at 15 degrees 42 minutes 31 seconds of Capricorn. This past month, it returned to that precise point at 8:56 pm EST on January 5th. That’s actually the day before my birthday, and by most people’s standards about six and a half hours before it was time for me to blow out the candles on my birthday cake. It works that way for pretty much everybody – our actual “astronomical birthday” often does not fall at the same time as our customary one. It may even be the day before or the day after. The reasons are a little complicated, but they boil down to the way we smooth out the calendar for practical purposes – essentially it all stems from the same compromises that compel us to insert a 366-day “year” every four years.

    As astrologers, our computers take care of those details for us, so none of that has much practical meaning – at least until we start setting up Solar Return charts. I am sure that many of you have heard of the technique. In principle, it is a simple idea: we set up a chart for the moment that the Sun returns to its starting point and we begin a new yearly cycle. That “birthday” chart gives us insight into what lies ahead during the coming year. The trick lies in remembering that this “solar return moment” would only very rarely be the same as your actual birth time and date. If I had set mine up with my usual birth data – 3:22 am EST on January 6 – it would have been meaningless, almost more like a legal document than an astrological one.

    A moment ago, I used the phrase “what lies ahead for us during the coming year.” No astrologer would be startled at such wording, but then the fun would begin. Astrology means so many different things to so many different people. A conventional astrologer might use a solar return  chart (often abbreviated as an “SR”) to predict the events of the next twelve months. Jupiter in the 2nd house? I smell money. Venus on the Descendant? You will meet someone  . . . There may even be some truth in those predictions, but as an evolutionary astrologer, my questions are different. For one thing, I believe that choices you make, wisely or foolishly, have a lot to do with the future you create. My aim is to empower you rather than “predicting” anything for you. For another, I think that the message of the SR chart – and really of all astrological symbolism – is ultimately about what your soul is learning, how best to learn it, and how to avoid wasting those evolutionary opportunities.


    As January opens, the planet Venus is moving in retrograde fashion through Capricorn. As it does so, it is threading its way through a crowded tangle of planets, sharing Capricorn with Pluto, Mercury, and the Sun. Venus turned retrograde on December 19 and will remain in that backwards condition until near the end of this month, finally stationing and turning direct on January 29th. 

    A retrograde planet is going back over ground that it has already covered, often re-thinking and re-framing it. That is one profoundly telling clue about the evolutionary meaning of retrograde bodies in general: they are always about the past. That is the key. As the great southern writer, William Faulkner once said, “The past is not dead. It is not even past.” There is, in other words, no way to separate our personal history from our experience of the present moment. Ask anyone who has ever been betrayed – can they enter into a new relationship without that old ghost haunting them? Once burned, twice smart, as the proverb goes – although in the case of intimate betrayal, “smart” might actually mean “wounded.”

    Venus retrograde may not be about those old betrayals, but that is certainly one possibility. Venus is, of course, the goddess of love. It is always about relationships, among other things. So let’s go with the “old betrayals” scenario for a while. We can use it to help us learn some principles that are more generalizable.


    The Nodal Axis Shifts into SCORPIO-TAURUS

    The nodes of the Moon spend about a year and a half in each sign before retrograding into the previous sign. (They are always retrograde.) The impact of the change on the daily headlines is unmistakable, and it is about to happen again. On December 22, the north lunar node enters Taurus, while the south node backs into Scorpio. They’ve been in Gemini and Sagittarius respectively since June 4, 2020 and they’ll cross into Aries and Libra on July 12, 2023. 

    These dates are, by the way, for the Mean nodes, rather than the so-called True nodes. I’ve always found the Mean nodes to be more accurate in the rare instances where there is any significant difference between the two forms at all. The dates I give are also based on the U.S. west coast – as ever, China and Australia are already enjoying tomorrow while we’re back here languishing in today. These are picky differences. In this newsletter, I want to focus on the bigger picture.

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    The Endless Sky – Or how I spent my summer vacation

    In early August, Michelle and I got back from a couple of months in rainy New Orleans. Lucky us – we beat hurricane Ida by three weeks. Michelle needed to be there to photograph some clients for her portrait-painting business. The house she still rents on Prytania Street is urban and too noisy for me to record listenable readings or to shoot video, so I was left with seven weeks that were basically in my own hands. This was the first time that kind of time had opened up in my life in exactly forty-three years and ten months – I know the number that specifically because it dates back to when I sold my sailboat, stopped trying to be Jimmy Buffett and got to work on being myself. 

    Being a Capricorn, facing seven weeks of vacation would have driven me directly into psychotherapy, so I needed something to do. As I cast about for possibilities, I remembered a project I’d been thinking about attempting for a long time. Over the years I’ve written a huge number of articles and newsletters on various astrological topics. I had always wanted to assemble them into a single volume – a sort of “collected essays” book.

    I started poking around my old files. Even with some fairly draconian editing and rejections, I realized that I had plenty of material for a book – seventy-one of the articles I had written over the past couple of decades passed my strict muster. I saw a couple of obvious holes in the project too, so I wrote a couple more essays to fill them.

    Listen In...

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    Astrology And Psychotherapy

    Maybe I am sitting with a client who has the natal Moon on the Midheaven. The symbols tell me that she has been “called to a mission” in this lifetime – that she has something important to do in her community, something that will touch the lives of people with whom she does not have any kind of personal karma. With signs and aspects, I can get a lot more specific, but that’s not my point here. I want to write about a very slippery question, and that is the relationship between astrology and psychotherapy. My client with the Moon on the Midheaven is just my launching pad. 

    We are all responsible for the way we “inhabit” our birthcharts. That element of free will is absolutely central to my understanding of astrology. One dimension of that pivotal principle is that we are all free to blow it – free to let fear, bad social conditioning, or sheer laziness take a bite out of our lives. That’s true of you, me – and my client with the Moon on her Midheaven too. The fact that she “has a mission” does not mean that she will rise to it. Some personal “Moon work” must serve as the foundation of any gift she is eventually able to give to her community. That will require some effort.

    My client has been born to play some kind of helpful, healing role in the lives of strangers. They don’t know it, but those strangers are counting on her.  If she does not rise to some approximation of her human potential, she will simply not be there for them. That means that her failure would create suffering for them. 

    Here’s where everything starts to get really sticky. That possibility of failure confronts astrologers with an uncomfortable truth that we cannot escape or sweep under the carpet. To what extent is it appropriate that we confront this client with the responsibilities that we see in her natal chart? More is at stake here than her own spiritual well being – other souls are depending on her. Do we have an ethical right to say that? Do we have an ethical obligation to say it? 

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