A friend just mentioned that she was worried about having to do a significant biz deal while Mercury is in retrograde (now through the 23rd). This is exactly the kind of thing astrologers tell you not to do during this time. But even when we know Mercury is in retrograde and feel its effects, often we still can't prevent business deals from happening! Or miscommunications. Or fights. Or struggles of all sorts. In fact it’s often the case, because so much of life is out of our control.
The mystery of the relationship between cosmological events and personal choice continually astounds me. For example I chose to ride my bike across the USA by myself and interview people about their prison justice work while Pluto (transformation, subconscious, shadow) was square my Mars (will, physical drive, power dynamics). Did I orchestrate the transit to take that form or did the solar system? Should I have waited because of how ramped up the intensity felt, or did I choose an activity that would allow that intensity to manifest because it was essential to growth?
I take lots of cues and comfort in aspects of Buddhist cosmology. One of the four noble truths of Buddhism is simply that suffering exists. This seems obvious, but the obvious is underrated. It’s not that suffering is the only thing going on, but it’s just saying, this happens. Suffering is inextricable from human experience. This is a comfort because it depersonalizes struggle. My life doesn’t feel hard because I am in some way failing, it feels hard because that is a part of the experience of human life. So maybe this truth can help us relax a little. We don’t have to effort so hard to orchestrate our lives to prevent suffering, a Sisyphean task if there ever was one! We don’t need to seek it out, and we don’t want to be passive in relation to it, but we can take it a little less personally. We can connect to others in fellowship in this truth - every other person on this planet has suffered and will suffer - what a beautiful and heartbreaking thing to share!
Here are two anchoring questions I use often with astrology (and I invite you to use these questions when reading your horoscope) -
Does my idea / belief about this cosmological event (or perspective) offer more compassion for myself and others?
Does this idea / belief give me more freedom and permission, or less?
Astrologers say to wait on biz deals, certain kinds of communications, etc, while Mercury is in retrograde. If this is possible, sure! I think it’s almost always a good idea to slow down, living at this contemporary speed. But this type of waiting can rely too heavily on the unconscious premise that there will be a time when a cosmological event is not happening, a fake future time when everything will be smooth. Life is smooth, for moments, just like it’s rough, for moments. Cosmological events are always happening! The complexity of the influences we are subject to is truly magnificent, astrologically and otherwise. So we ground ourselves as much as possible on the actual earth we actually live on, with breathing, and questions that return us to the basics. Where is the compassionate perspective? Where is the freedom? Let’s go there more together. Here’s some horoscopes. (I’m available for astrology readings through the 20th, then taking a break until January 3.)
ARIES (March 21-April 19)
Question - When do you judge prematurely? What are the effects that you notice from this?
Meditation - Letting wind blow the seeds of your efforts.
Assignment - Watch a plant for 10 minutes. (Set a timer.) Ask what it can teach you about movement and stillness. Thank it for anything it tells you. Do this more than once.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20)
Question - What do you take on faith that you might not typically name as 'faith'? How might recognizing faith benefit you?
Meditation - The physics (magic) of compost.
Assignment - Write a list of what needs to die in winter, the agricultural season of death. What does death make room for? Observe perennial plants for their wisdom regarding death and renewal. (Look to Scorpios and Scorpio energy, opposite you in the zodiac, for other cues on death and renewal.)
GEMINI (May 21-June 20)
Question - How much time do you spend categorizing. How much does it serve you?
Meditation - The weather, through a day. A week. A month. A year.
Assignment - David Foster Wallace says we all worship something. Make a list of what you worship. Be honest. Another way to say it is, where do you devote time? Look at your last week, make the list from that. Read the list out loud. Notice what happens in the body.
CANCER (June 21-July 22)
Question - What would it feel like to live without defense?
Meditation - Opening out.
Assignment - Review last week, write down a time you were acting from defense. What were you defending? How did you feel? What do you notice now?
LEO (July 23-August 22)
Question - When is receiving attention nourishing, when is it draining?
Meditation - Permission to have needs.
Assignment - Write a list of needs that are not physical / survival-based. Ex. The need to talk to a friend. The need to notice plants. Add to it every day this week.
VIRGO (August 23-September 22)
Question - What does attention to detail obscure?
Meditation - The power in letting yourself give up.
Assignment - Have a conversation with someone you love about 'giving up'. Consider times when you 'gave up' and the ways this benefited you. Learn from your overwhelm, track it, attend to it, regard it as feedback which helps you learn. "Bless it with awareness and love." What does giving up make room for? Let the tide of effort recede for long enough to see what's been hiding under it.
LIBRA (September 23-October 22)
Question - When do you hesitate to act? What does this hesitation produce?
Meditation - The life force of beauty.
Assignment - Take cues from Aries friends and Aries energy (opposite you in the zodiac). Experiment with single-pointed action. Channel the trouble-maker and see what happens, while taking loving note of fears.
SCORPIO (October 23-November 21)
Question - Is there a fear or resistance to ease? What belief might this be based on?
Meditation - "All that you are seeking is also seeking you."
Assignment - Place your bare feet on the actual earth at least three times this week. Any time you feel overwhelmed, connect to the physical, the embodied, in whatever form contains the least resistance.
SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21)
Question - What do you radiate to others?
Meditation - The tide going out.
Assignment - Light a candle everyday this week. Watch the fire, know yourself as fire, resonate and beam. Connect with your own inner warmth, just like the fire at the center of the earth, endlessly warming.
CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19)
Question - How do considerations of conventional wisdom and tradition get in the way of your freedom to act?
Meditation - Transformation as a loving friend.
Assignment - Read this letter every day this week. Send it to someone. Read it out loud.
AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18)
Question - How might you benefit from giving yourself more permission for your own personal experience?
Meditation - The Gold Loving Sun.
Assignment - Go small. Notice what the sun illuminates. Watch small wildlife. Be with your feet. Practice details.
PISCES (February 19 to March 20)
Question - What contains you as a water sign?
Meditation - How roots contain and transform water.
Assignment - Roots are an embodiment of the earth principle, like Virgo, an earth sign (opposite you in the zodiac). How do plants know how much water they need? Discerning what is yours and what is another's, what to take on and what to shed, can be hard for Pisces. Take cues from Virgos and Virgo energy to practice discernment, and return anything unneeded back to the earth.