People have been exiting the Earth in record numbers, lately. If there’s a welcome home party in the afterlife, there’s surely going to be some great music and conversation. Naturally, the question of the hour is, why is everyone dying? This isn’t a new phenomenon. The past six or so years have been demanding. Uranus and Pluto, still in their wide square, continues to pressure us to “evolve or die”, to face our shadows, heal our wounds, and live more authentically and true to our self. Energetically, this hasn’t been an easy ride for anyone, and with the relentless burden and strain to evolve, the human vessel gets tired, worn out. Maybe that’s why some have been called to finish their healing on the other side. For those remaining, life goes on, though it’s different. Like a ravenous appetite after the fever of a long illness has burned off, we re-enter life changed, hungry to really live. When I visited Paris after the bombings last year, it was still Paris, city of light, but moreso. People were going out, dining and drinking champagne at midnight, celebrating life. To my mind, the dying want those left behind to be more Parisian: To more fully live. Fulfill our self. Celebrate life.

My husband John and I have a tradition of checking in with one another about how on track we are in leading the lives we want to lead. This can happen at any time but spontaneously occurs around the death of a notable. We compare notes around the old “If I knew I was going to die in a year would I do anything differently?” question, striving to answer it truthfully while holding each other accountable when one of us starts to compare our thimble- sized accomplishments to say, David Bowie’s (“Is that your ego talking?” usually clears that one up). Last year, John decided that from now on that he would only wear red socks because he liked the statement it made (“now here’s a man who’s serious about style”). He holds a 1950’s style cocktail hour every evening, and although I rarely partake, it’s a joy to behold his mixology joy (did you know there’s a slew of Bowie cocktails? “The Ziggy Stardust”, “The Black Star”, and the straightforward “David Bowie”?) Like a check and balance system, Death’s gift is the reminder to play, live, enjoy… and if you don’t, you’re not taking Death seriously.

We tend to live as if we have lots of time. “If you knew you had only a year to live would you do anything differently?” Would you finally: leave that relationship, start the blog, visit Machu Picchu, re-connect with a precious friend? Are you waiting for a divine power to give you permission to live? In the wake of his passing, I read a Stephen Levine interview circulating. Stephen was the author of among others, Who Dies?, a book about dying I read while volunteering at an AIDS hospice a lifetime ago. Stephen devoted his life to helping people become more conscious about their death. In the article he spoke about not waiting to live, but living this year as if this is your last, which he did as a formal spiritual practice (he was Buddhist). One thing he noticed while doing the practice is how vain we are. “We are so attached to how we appear in the world, in relationships,” he said, “Simple embarrassment so often guides the way we interact with others… I think we are embarrassed by how much pain we have been in throughout our entire lives. Because we are embarrassed, we don’t share this truth with one another… We need to have mercy on ourselves. We all feel embarrassed. Actually, when we do speak about these things, when we do share our embarrassment, we experience relief.”

It’s been touching/heartbreaking reading about the love shared between some of these power couples (David & Iman, Stephen and Ondrea). Yes, this kind of mythic love exists– ain’t love grand? Venus enters Capricorn at this lunation, shining light on the durability, realism, maturity and success of our love bonds. I have a friend whose relationship dynamic is that when one person is feeling successful the other will bring them down by being unsupportive or dismissive of their accomplishments. When one feels unseen and un-special, no one’s allowed to be. Their relationship suffers a Leo deficiency.  To thrive, we need a supporting cast of people who really see our “star” –and you can’t power up your star from an empty battery. There are people in life who will magnify your light and there are people who will dim it. Only you know who those are. This isn’t a judgment, but a statement of fact. Be around people who rise to the occasion, and you rise, too.

It is a relief to allow our selves to be human, to let go of the illusion of invincibility, or a pain-free existence, what or whoever is holding us back from living. We can can choose to be vulnerable, and to move on from those who restrict or close down our heart. Leo Full Moon asks: Are we living as colorfully, as fully, as well as we can? Are we expressing our creative potential? Do our accomplishments reflect our true values? Are we loving and loved? And are we having any fun, yet? When I was at the hospice I worked with a transgender AIDS patient who, although actively dying, every morning put on glitter make-up, fishnets, sequins. She loved Diet Cokes, cigarettes, gossip and getting her hair done. She was a joy. With so much death lingering in the air, there’s an invitation here to ride our lives as we would a wild mustang horse, to feel our freedom more fully, to taste our life, feel the wind whip through our hair, to ride on… Our mortality is watching.