The last week before Christmas, I flew out to South Carolina to assist my very sick and very dear grandmother. When I arrived, it was clear she was close to, if not actively, dying. I did what I could. If you’ve ever been a caregiver for a sick person who is fairly conscious, it is painful for both of you. You do physical things you’ve only ever done for your self; and if you think it’s humiliating for you, your heart breaks because they are doing what they can to hold onto a last shred of human dignity. When the beautiful machine called the body starts to fall apart, it is a glorious mess. what once worked so effortlessly and invisibly becomes effort-full and unpredictable. In one moment of biological truth, my Great Aunt looked me with tears in her eyes and said, “Jessica, getting old is terrible.” I wanted to disagree. I mumbled something like, Well, if we can all be there to help each other, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad…True, but… she lives alone. My grandmother’s husband left her when my father was three, and she never really trusted anyone after that. Her family has since dispersed to different corners of the universe, physically and philosophically. The reality is, she had never thought about getting sick or dying. She didn’t plan on this. Most of us don’t. Read more
It’s a wild ride this December as we enter both the holiday and ‘eclipse season’, so instead of my regular New Moon essay, I’m publishing a few cliff notes for these last two weeks of 2009.
The Sagittarius New Moon on Wednesday 12/16 encourages the power of our enthusiasm, our joy for life, our innate optimism, and seeing our life problems through the higher perspective of meaningful journeys. It’s time to re-affirm our faith that the Universe is conspiring for our blessings, and no matter our situation we can make lemonade out of lemons. If you’re feeling more angst than enthusiasm, remember that Sagittarius is a Fire sign. In the process of Alchemy, a psychological metaphor for the cycles of growth, fire is the element associated with the Calcinatio stage. In this stage, fire is typically felt as frustrated desire. The animals connected with Calcinatio are the Lion and the Wolf, two symbols of hunger, pride, arrogance and desire. Whether we have a frustrated love life, career or bank account, frustrated desires are fuel for the burning process of becoming. Liz Greene says, “The frustration of desire is not based on conventional or moral grounds. Frustration is a painful but compassionate contribution to the process which is trying to unfold.” Essentially, this process occurs so that something else can emerge. Lately, it’s amazing how many stories I’ve heard about houses burning down to ash and the resilient nature of human beings to find meaning and mission in the most difficult of experiences. Alchemy & the Sagittarius New Moon remind us that there’s an opportunity to find gold at every stage of life.
We get the chance to locate our inner heat with the upcoming Mars retrograde cycle, in the bright shiny sign of notice-me Leo (12/20/09-3/10/10). We need to be patient with our self and others, as there’s clear difficulty in externalizing our Cat-like Warrior prowess in the outer world. This phase make also have us think we’re not accomplishing our goals, but that’s just part of the process. We may want to be noticed but we are noticing our fire, both where it’s going and where it is clearly not.
Take a moment to breathe deeply and light a candle on Winter Solstice, 12/21 the longest night of the year. The world needs your light right now.
Shortly after Mars, Mercury moves retrograde in Capricorn (12/26-1/15/10). Retrograde Mercury brings communication and information slowdowns and reminders of all sorts, including the missive to not fall asleep regarding the details of our lives, as well as reflections on where we’ve been and where headed. Make peace with a slow pace. We slow down for a reason.
On New Year’s Eve, December 31, we experience a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Cancer (10′ 15′). With the two busiest planets in a resting phase, New Year’s Eve may be best spent cozied up by the fireplace. Yet we do begin to feel the effects of eclipses at least two weeks before (or more) so I can’t help but think of a holiday season full of drama and not a bit of comedy, as funky family dynamics are further exaggerated by retrograde energy and emotional hiccups in that world of family and feelings we affectionately call Cancer. Feel your feelings. Perhaps the best remedy for a peaceful holiday season this year is to be compassionate with your self, and your self-compassion will naturally extend outward to others, calming them down, too.
While Saturn was transiting Virgo, one of my clients asked whether she should put down a loving and loyal pet, a dog, who had been hit by a car. Saturn in Virgo was beyond difficult on humanity’s little helpers as many of my clients and friends found their pets with terribly costly health problems. We weighed the merits of each side of the decision. The dog was a loyal friend but the cost of rehabilitation would be costly – she was struggling to pay her bills. She is also a caring and compassionate woman who loved her dog and couldn’t imagine putting down one of God’s creatures. In a quiet moment of contemplation, as though she were asking God for an answer, she asked me a memorable question: “I’ve always thought something astrology can do is help us make better choices. So…how can astrology help me with this?” My astrological knees quivered. This wasn’t just an astrological exploration – it was a personal and spiritual one.
Ultimately, we unpacked the astrology that day, examining her life with dogs, in retrospect. I’ll never forget this conversation because she honestly asked me a question which I continually ask myself: How does astrology help? With the realities of bad situations getting worse, our own individual suffering becoming harder to deny, and the darkening of the collective mood, quick and dirty astrology can certainly confirm our deepest fears (oh no, it’s Pluto and Saturn, the malefics and bringers of doom!). We want astrology to be helpful not harmful. So what kind of answers does astrology give us? And is it designed to answer anything at all? Read more
We all get stuck in ruts: working the same job for years, looking at the same old four walls, it’s hard not to get into a groove, and not always the groovy good kind either. Brains are groovy though, as new neural pathways, or grooves, are forged every time we learn something new. But the brain is tricky. Once we master a new skill, the mind gets lazy. Right after the initial push of new learning, our brains efficiently go on automatic pilot so we don’t have to recreate the wheel driving to work in the morning, balance bitter and sweet while cooking dinner or remember our profession. So helpful, habit, but rituals of habit can be deadening, easily developing into the dreaded rut. Even good habits can accustom us to a sort of mental laziness, boredom, apathy or uninterested and uninteresting malaise. Which is totally anathema to that breath of fresh air we call Gemini, lively, ever fresh ‘of the moment’ Gemini.