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We visited the Grand Canyon with friends from New Zealand. I hadn’t been there since I was about six years old; all I could remember of that trip came from stories I’d heard often enough to be convinced they were my own memories. And there are a few yellowed Polaroids: My older brothers looking sheepish (family lore holds that my oldest brother had just dropped his sunglasses over the canyon’s edge). My mother, young and movie-star glamorous in her capris; dad, handsome and a little dangerous-looking in his Ray-bans. And I, as usual, was gazing off into the distance—as my sister liked to quip, “waiting for the mother ship to return for you.”

I had no real memories of what the place was like, but I remembered how it had made me feel. I’ve always been moved by a spectacular bit of nature. Fifty years later, I was looking forward to feeling that way again. After a long drive, a good night’s sleep, and the slow suspense of an hour-long train ride across desert scrub and through Ponderosa pines, we finally climbed the stairs to the canyon’s rim and wandered over for a better look.

Five decades is nothing in the life of this canyon, and I’m confident it hasn’t changed at all since we last saw each other. And other than using cellphones instead of Polaroid cameras, I doubt the nature of the crowds has, either. Kids arrived excited and left cross, querulous; adults got too much sun and stood in long lines for overpriced lunch. By the time the train was ready to leave, everyone was tired and a little overwhelmed.

I guess I hadn’t really changed much, either. Because while our friends wanted to dash off energetically to explore the far end of the canyon’s rim, all I wanted was to lounge against the rail, or perch on an obliging bench, and drink in this epic bit of earth.

From the outside, though, everything about my life looks different. Half the people in those photos have disappeared from my life like a faded snapshot, including my mother, who died twenty years ago last month. There’s enormous comfort, at my age, in things that don’t change, or at least change so slowly you wouldn’t notice it in your lifetime; things like a big old canyon.

Mom—born with the Sun in Taurus and Moon in Virgo—loved the earth. She took us to the Grand Canyon; along the way, we visited the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. She made sure we saw the giant redwoods, Big Sur, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Bryce Canyon; she kept us from toddling too close to the canyon’s edge.

Taurus is the sign of the abiding earth and its enduring wonders. Those born under its influence are likewise constant and dependable, but with the fatal flaw of having been made of mortal flesh instead of sedimentary rock. Knowing she would someday leave us, our mother gave her children gifts that would help bridge the aching gap between her death and ours. One was the gift of each other, sibling guardians of the in-jokes and road-trip memories. The other was an introduction to those beautiful places of earthly beauty, which we took for granted with the careless entitlement of youth.

Now we can return to any of them as grownup, orphaned pilgrims, and rest our weary hearts against them. We can stand at the canyon’s rim, or at the base of the giant redwood, or on the Pacific shore, and feel safe and strong, connected to something timeless.

Despite the otherworldly demeanor and skyward gazing that my sister ribbed me about, I was not, in fact, dropped here by aliens. My people came to the new land almost four hundred years ago. I lived on a farm, made mud pies, ate dirt, and watched the stars. I learned to love and trust the ground I walk on, to cherish it as my birthright, my true mother ship.

A few weeks ago, just a few days after the Sun entered Taurus, people all over the world, in 192 countries, celebrated Earth Day together. I don’t know most of them, and I didn’t march in any parades or attend any public events. I guess, like many people, I’d come to dismiss those observances with a slight, cynical eye-roll.

But today, on the eve of the Taurus New Moon, I feel such tenderness toward that gathering of brothers and sisters. We’re all looking for something timeless and abiding to hold onto in an age when everything on top of the earth seems to be spinning faster and faster toward chaos. And like an invisible Taurus mother, the good earth itself feels steady and stable beneath our feet—holding us up, catching us when we fall, and keeping us from wandering too close to the canyon’s edge.

© 2017 April Elliott Kent

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The post New Moon in Taurus: The Mother Ship appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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When Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of China, ascended the throne in 246 BC at the age of 13, work began on a mausoleum that would eventually protect him in the afterlife. In 1974, workers excavating a well just outside the city of Xi’an discovered the site; archeologists eventually uncovered thousands of life-sized terracotta statues, mostly depictions of soldiers lined up in formation to escort the emperor into the valley of death.

A Scorpio friend who visited China more than a year ago longed to travel to Xi’an to see the soldiers, but there wasn’t time. Soon after he returned home, however, he received a medical diagnosis that seemed grave. Faced with his imminent demise, he immediately scheduled a return trip to China to visit the statues. They proved as marvelous as he’d hoped. And though he is well for now, he has no regrets about having visited far-away China twice in one year.

At the time, my only thought was those terracotta soldiers seemed very compelling indeed, and seeing them was as good a reason as any to make such a long trip for the second time in one year. But on reflection, it’s interesting that this grand display of funerary art is what called to a Scorpio who was facing mortality. Scorpio’s opposite sign, Taurus, represents our attachment to the earth, but Scorpio symbolizes the sobering reality that we’ll leave it someday – taking nothing, not even our flesh and bones.

Everyone deals with this knowledge in his or her own way. Some ignore it, and stockpile shoes and big-screen televisions and expensive cookware that will take up space on the earth long after we’re worm food. Some obsess about diet and fitness; surely there is some magic formula that will make us live forever, or at least in perfect health until the day we drop dead at the age of 110 in the throes of passion. Some might even replicate an entire dynasty in terracotta, refuting the old adage that “you can’t take it with you when you go.”

Forever, humans passionately attached to physical life have sought to decode – and ultimately to outwit – the great mystery of death. The sign of Sagittarius represents the beliefs we form about the afterlife. But to get to Sagittarius on the horoscopic wheel, you have to first pass through Scorpio, and grapple with what it means to leave behind the beloved physicality of earthy existence. We confront this mystery when a loved one dies, or one’s childhood heroes begin to litter the obituary pages,  and certainly when a health crisis brings the whole matter a little too close to home.

It’s not just the fear of losing our lives that haunts us. More and more, it’s growing old that is the worry. I know other countries manage aging differently, some better, some worse. But in the United States an astonishing number of Americans have little or nothing saved for retirement, a word which used to evoke happy golden years of golf and RV travel but which now is becoming a euphemism for being, at last, too sick to earn money. And just yesterday, I saw a disturbing headline which reported that in Japan, older women with no family or resources are committing crimes in order to gain the relative security of a prison sentence, with its shelter and three square meals.

In many places, the societal safety net has been worn to gossamer thinness. The process of dealing with a physical body in decline – housing it, feeding it, keeping it from hurting – takes up a lot of mental and emotional real estate as one ages. These physical concerns, the realm of Taurus, leaves little energy left over for Scorpionic thoughts of what happens after we die and our place in the grand scheme of things.

So there is comfort in imagining oneself as a long-ago emperor, powerful, revered, and accomplished in this life and ushered into the next life by a terracotta army. But then, as now, life was very different for ordinary people. It’s estimated that 700,000 laborers created the emperor’s giant mausoleum over three decades; their lives were presumably short and hard and their deaths brutish, with no terracotta soldiers to usher them into eternity. And yet, did the emperor take his riches with him? Did he go to a better neighborhood of heaven?

Maybe he did, I don’t know. None of us knows. In the Taurus season, as we luxuriate in spring’s milder weather and the explosion of beauty, flowers, and new life, the Scorpio Full Moon shines its light on the great mystery, the unknowable secret of death. It’s the impermanence of life that makes it precious, so we’re missing something by turning our backs on our mortality. Better, I think, to let it inspire us to sweep life up in a passionate embrace, to leave everything on the playing field, to celebrate the soft returning sunlight and the feel of a light cardigan around our shoulders.

The Scorpio Full Moon highlights two truths: One is that, against all odds, each of us exists. And the other is that eventually, we won’t. Eventually, we’ll walk off into the unknown, alone, naked, probably a bit frightened – without a 401K, and without an army of terracotta soldiers. Until then, enjoy the gift of now, and savor the mystery of what comes later.

© 2018 April Elliott Kent

Want to know when new articles are posted? Subscribe to my mailing list – it’s free, I’ll never share your address, and you’ll get my free monthly lunar workbook, “Working with the Moon”! Details here.

The post Scorpio Full Moon: The Great Mystery appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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There’s more than a hint of madness in this New Moon in Aries, with the Sun and Moon conjoined Uranus and square Pluto. Everyone seems busy and overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion. It’s as though we’re suffering from collective adrenal exhaustion.

Each day I wonder why I’m not getting more done, but when I look at my schedule it’s clear that I’m doing plenty, even if it’s not exactly what I’d wanted to accomplish. My appointment calendar is covered with my scrawling, failing penmanship. My days are filled to brimming, even if my bank account is not.

There is some work recorded there, some meetings and appointments and deadlines. But plenty of what fills my days is not written down anywhere. Troubling phone calls about people I love. The  annual ritual—emotionally complicated—of gathering my business profit-and-loss information for our tax return. The specter of major life transitions looming just ahead in the distance.

My book is full, my life is hectic, but so much of it is just stuff that makes me want to run away. Is this what is means to have the New Moon point conjoined Uranus, and square Pluto—demoralizing pressure and longing for freedom?

We start out as wild horses, all of us, and life is the process by which we’re tamed. Some of us are civilized by gentle masters who teach us restraint without breaking our spirits. Others were brutalized by cruel circumstances that taught us to trample everything in our paths. Most of us have encountered both types of master; some days we gallop, and some days we trample.

It’s been a hard couple of years, and plenty of us are restive, nearly ready to stampede. Mars, the planetary ruler of Aries, has been transiting Capricorn, one of its strongest signs, since mid-March. But last week, it met up with Saturn, its energetic opposite and equally strong in Capricorn. It was a tough week for lots of people; it seemed that the harder one tried to give full rein to Mars’ feisty enthusiasm, the more insistently Saturn threw out a bony arm of restraint. Frankly, putting Mars in such an uncomfortable situation, and then placing the New Moon in Aries at the apex of a tremendously stressful configuration, is tantamount to a cosmic dare.

For years now, astrologers have been writing about the epic square that has unfolded between Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Capricorn. In the early days of this transit, it was more or less assumed that the world would erupt in a fiery conflagration of apocalyptic terror and suffering that would leave us slack-jawed with horror. Every day a Pearl Harbor, a 9/11.

There have been terrible moments, both collectively and personally. For many of us, though, it’s been a less showy but sustained planetary campaign of breaking us down and shaking us up. We see it on stages large and small, in our weather and in our politics, in our relationships and our careers. Some of us are having a much harder time than others, but no one is unaffected. Uranus and Pluto are both brutal masters.

Even at the best of times, the Aries season does not lend itself naturally to coping with frustration, delay, or restraint. And these are hardly the best of times. With Mars like a convict released from Saturn’s prison, the Sun and Moon conjoined Uranus and square Pluto, and Uranus in Aries getting itchy as it prepares to enter a new sign in May, this New Moon is the celestial equivalent of picking a fight with someone whom you know is particularly volatile and thin-skinned: will the result be violence, or a lesson in restraint?

Some days, it may seem that we are all minutes away from merging with the infinite. For all I know, that may even be the case. But my belief is that what is happening outside us and around us is a reflection of what is inside us: wild horses, forces of spontaneity and freedom, in direct conflict with powerful forces of control. Some of these forces must be resisted, because the alternative is a loss of joyful freedom. But sometimes, control can be our friend, helping us harness our energy and strength to accomplish more than we’d dreamed possible.

We have wild, Uranus in Aries horses within us; and with Pluto in Capricorn, society is transforming in a way that challenges the primacy of unbridled individuality. It’s for each of us to decide whether our horses need taming or setting free—and to find the gentlest way to make it happen.

© April Elliott Kent

Want to know when new articles are posted? Subscribe to my mailing list – it’s free, I’ll never share your address, and you’ll get my free monthly lunar workbook, “Working with the Moon”! Details here.

The post Aries New Moon: The Taming appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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Libra has a reputation for being nice and for putting other people first. But Libra also symbolizes comparison; to some extent, most of us gauge our relative success by looking at what others have accomplished. Even when we’re smiling on the outside, our inner Librans are keeping score and making sure the scales balance. When they don’t… no more Mr. Libra nice guy.

Some of our earliest, most shocking realizations about the world are about fairness. “It’s not fair!” squeals the 5-year-old whose older brother gets a later bedtime. “It’s not fair!” objects the teenager who is denied her own car, even though all her friends have one. “It’s not fair!” shouts the employee who has been let go in his company’s latest round of firings, even though his laziest coworker gets to keep his job.

Life isn’t fair, at least not according to our (probably limited) understanding of fairness. And it’s especially galling when you’ve played by the rules and done everything you were supposed to do, and have not been rewarded for it but in fact punished. Like young people who were pushed to attend college, sometimes incurring massive debt in the process, only to graduate and find there are no jobs for them. Or workers near retirement age who find their guaranteed pension has vanished into thin air.

For many of us keeping score at home, the scales don’t seem to balance. When our internal accounting system triggers a fairness audit, we have a range of options. We can attempt to steer the world toward greater fairness through activism and education. We can surrender to cynicism, anger, and laziness. We can turn to faith; Venus, Libra’s ruling planet, is after all exalted in Pisces, the sign of spiritual awareness. Or else we can simply ignore everything that makes us unhappy.

The chart for this Full Moon (March 31, 2018, 5:37 am Pacific / 8:37 am Eastern), with the Sun and Moon square the formidable duo of Mars and Saturn in Capricorn,  fairly screams, “State of emergency! Threat level orange! All hands on deck!” But after a couple of decades of fighting hard for a better world, I’ll admit that these days I find it much more painful to pay attention to things I feel powerless to change.

I feel for the Pluto in Libra generation (born roughly between Oct. 1971 and Aug. 1984) now reaching key astrological ages – the oldest of whom are now past, and the youngest just entering,  their “mid-life crisis” aspects (Uranus opposition, Neptune and Pluto squares, Saturn’s opposition). They’re gotten kind of a raw deal, and they know it. But along with the Saturn/Uranus/Neptune in Capricorn generation born in the mid-1980s, and the ferociously idealistic generation born with Pluto in Sagittarius and Uranus/Neptune in Aquarius that have grown up in a post-9/11 world, Team Pluto in Libra is one of our best hopes for sorting out the messes we face.

It’s always been the young people who have had to fight for justice, for more or less the same reason we send young people to fight battles on foreign soil: they’re young enough to believe they’re immortal and can’t fail. Besides, each generation defines itself by working out its own outer-planet astrological signatures at the macro-level, through railing at the government, wars, and economy that they inherited from previous generations. The Saturn/Pluto in Leo Baby Boomers dealt with the Uranus/Pluto conjunction of the 60s by pretty much blowing up society as we knew it (not necessarily a bad thing); the Uranus/Pluto in Virgo generation confronted economic peril, a drastically altered employment landscape, and philosophical extremism while Pluto was in Sagittarius.

And now we’re all reorienting ourselves in the wake of the transiting Uranus/Pluto square, and dealing with problems that are far beyond the sincerest gestures of well-meaning individuals. These are times that call for collective action, and we’re fortunate that the generation born with Pluto in Libra has a gift for collaboration that surpasses anything we’ve seen in my lifetime. Age-wise, they are next up in the world leadership batting order. It’s going to be up to them to help us remember the power, responsibility, and redemption of living as a society.

And no, that isn’t fair to them. But as much as we yearn for fairness, the best we can probably hope for is a kind of logic to the way things work out. As individuals, human beings are wildcards, but as a species we seem to move in a fairly linear way toward more or less logical conclusions. Each moment of epic societal fail has a pedigree, a family tree that you can trace to understand its origins and to identify the point at which its DNA became corrupted. But the tree also has new branches and leaves that represent new generations with fresh energy… and that is a source of hope, a promise that wounds can heal and that day will inevitably follow night. It’s not fairness, exactly, but there is a kind of symmetry to it, and balance. And at the Full Moon in Libra, that’s not such a bad consolation prize.

© 2013, 2015, 2018 by April Elliott Kent

Want to know when new articles are posted? Subscribe to my mailing list – it’s free, I’ll never share your address, and you’ll get my free monthly lunar workbook, “Working with the Moon”! Details here.

The post Libra Full Moon: It Isn’t Fair appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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One of my recurring fantasies is to renovate and live in an old church. I’m enchanted by the idea of a home with arched stained glass windows, a choir loft (perfect for a master bedroom!), wood trim and floors lovingly scrubbed for decades with Murphy’s Oil Soap… and something more, perhaps. A peacefulness; a soulfulness gained from years of prayerful contemplation that have seeped into its bones, transforming a simple structure into a sanctuary.

I was born with Pisces, the sign of the spiritual seeker, on the cusp of my 4th house (the house of home and family). Home is my sacred place. The search for peace and quiet, for a gentle place of order and contemplation, has always been my first priority in choosing—or creating—a place to call home. Although my husband and I haven’t realized our fantasy of living in a church, our little bungalow is quiet and private. Two large trees shield the front of the house, the miracle of Caller ID protects us from unwanted phone calls, and uninvited visitors will find we don’t even have a doorbell. Inside, flickering candles and contented cats lend an atmosphere of relaxation.

Visitors often tell us that our house feels especially peaceful, but it wasn’t always so. When we bought our house, the discordant energy of the previous owners seemed to linger like barnacles on the bottom of a boat. And the day we moved in, renters pulled up next door with a U-Haul truck and a pitbull whose barking kept us awake all night, every night. It’s taken an enormous amount of spiritual work over the past twenty years, negotiating with the universe through ritual—and (more tortuously) with neighbors—to create the sanctuary we enjoy today.

Wherever Pisces falls in your chart, you seek to create a sanctuary into which you can retreat from the rancor and agitation of daily life. But as anyone who has lived in a monastery can tell you, retreat and sanctuary don’t exempt us from confronting our issues! In fact, I think the areas of life symbolized in our birth charts by Pisces are sacred not just because they’re places where we can retreat and regroup, but because they describe where we meet the issues that stand between us and true inner peace.

So at this new Moon I invite you to find Pisces – the sign of the sacred – in your chart, and consider how these areas of your life serve as both your retreat and your spiritual classroom. Here are a few real-life examples to prime your imagination. (Need help finding the Pisces house in your chart? This post might help.)

  • A friend with Pisces rising, born with a curved spine, finds her sanctuary in her yoga practice, transforming her body through physical exercise.
  • An aquaintance with Pisces on the cusp of the second house finds sanctuary in his love of gardening and of collecting antiques.
  • With Pisces on the cusp of the third house, a serious, businesslike Capricorn-rising client found tranquility in writing poetry and making music with friends.
  • One client with Pisces on the fourth house lives full-time on a houseboat!
  • One woman with Pisces on the fifth house adored artwork with a sacred focus; one entire wall of her house was covered with crucifixes. With Pisces on the fifth house cusp, you may consider music, art, other creative pursuits, or time spent with pets or children as your sanctuary.
  • A co-worker with Pisces on her sixth house cusp held a well-paying position but worked in a basement office with no natural light. She transformed her prefab cubicle into a sanctuary, complete with a trickling fountain and Japanese scroll.
  • A client with Pisces on the seventh house cusp found sanctuary in a series of lovers who were artists, musicians, and spiritual seekers—and ultimately married a man who is strongly religious.
  • One friend with Pisces on the eighth house cusp was an avid devotee of Tantric yoga. The eighth house is a house of sexuality, but also of sharing and of magical practices. Pisces offers an element of spirituality to these connections.
  • A woman with Pisces on the ninth house has been known to sigh, upon entering a library or bookstore, that “books are all I know of heaven.” Come to think of it, she would probably love to buy a church and turn it into a bookstore!
  • An artist with Pisces on the tenth house cusp said she did her very best work once she rented an office above a local church.  For many, the secret to this placement is a career that reflects spiritual as well as material values.
  • A sensible Taurus rising man with Pisces on the eleventh house cusp found soothing refuge in his friendships, including his recovery cohorts, numerous artists, and at least one priest.
  • One woman with Pisces on the twelfth house cusp used to sleep as much as possible; when awake, she drank a lot. When she got sober and found love and religion, her faith became her sanctuary.
Reconnecting with your sanctuary

When the New Moon falls in Pisces, it’s vital to consecrate your personal sanctuary and reconnect with the sacred part of yourself. Cleanse your space with sage, salt, or lemon water. Build an altar, as simple or complex as you like, to serve as a spiritual “safe place” for giving thanks and asking for guidance. To invite spirituality to take root in the soil of your everyday life, institute a daily ritual such as lighting a candle, burning some incense, or ringing a bell.

The particulars of your ritual don’t much matter; what’s important is your intention to breathe clarity, compassion, and surrender into your inner sanctuary. Send empathy to troublesome neighbors, and discord will often disappear. Surrender to your curved spine and it becomes easier to work around it. Recognize the unhappy job situation that imprisons you, and you can release it to make room for a peaceful working environment.

Where is your sanctuary? Where are you called to create an oasis of peace and tranquility in the midst of life’s often harsh landscape? At this New Moon, find the Piscean sacred space in your life. Clear it physically and symbolically, anoint it with incense—and maybe a little Murphy’s Oil Soap—and transform it into your dream home.

© 2010, 2018 April Elliott Kent. All rights reserved.

Want to know when new articles are posted? Subscribe to my mailing list – it’s free, I’ll never share your address, and you’ll get my free monthly lunar workbook, “Working with the Moon”! Details here.

The post Pisces New Moon: Where is Your Sanctuary? appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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With Mars transiting Sagittarius and my first house in recent weeks, I’ve managed to antagonize a few people close to me without even trying. My intentions were good, but that’s only half the battle. How those intentions are communicated is just as important, and it’s here that I appear to have fallen down on the job.

In his book The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz explores the power of language—”the Word”—and the importance of using that power impeccably. “Impeccable,” as he points out, is from the Latin meaning “without sin.” When we use our word impeccably, we use it with integrity, congruent with our true selves. But when we use our word carelessly – dishonestly, or with the intention of doing harm – we “sin,” acting against ourselves as well as against others.

For me, Virgo is the sign that best represents this concept of impeccability in one’s word. Like Gemini, Virgo is ruled by Mercury, the messenger planet. These signs are perhaps the closest to the Word, but they embrace it in different ways and with different intention.

Gemini collects words indiscriminately, like butterflies, enjoying their colors and the shimmer of their wings in the morning light. He likes to play with language, to enjoy the feel of words in his mouth, to juggle them like an acrobat. The Word is a tool of delight to the Gemini magician.

But Virgo, an earth sign, represents the Word in tangible form. And when love takes a physical form, whether human, or, say, a piece of art, the struggle for improvement is quickly underway. Virgo’s talent lies in evaluating whether the artist’s creation reflects impeccability —that is, whether it achieves what the artist intended. In Virgo, the Leo storyteller hands her novel over to the editor, who has the power to help her shape the narrative and ideally, to bring it closer to the truth of her vision. But if this power is not used impeccably, it can result in the sin of tearing down the writer and extinguishing the creative flame.

In my own life, many people with the Sun, Moon, or Ascendant in Virgo have held me to a high standard of behavior, intention, and word. I have always striven to uphold that standard, but that’s only because I was first confident of their unconditional love. When we are criticized without a foundation of love and trust, the outcome is as likely to be destructive as it is to be constructive.

Criticism is invaluable, but on a personal level it’s almost always most effective when it’s done with tact, kindness, and the presumption of goodwill.

Many planets are moving through Pisces now, including the Sun approaching a conjunction with compassionate Neptune. All those planetary voices in Virgo’s opposite sign remind us of the importance of tempering criticism with compassion, and respecting the gray areas between black and white. Ruiz likens the Word to having the power to cast a spell on others, and it’s good magic indeed to present information to others in a way that makes them feel empowered, optimistic, and worthwhile.

I learned from a Virgo client long ago that the truth is not confined to what is hurtful, but also applies to the truly marvelous things that a person might not recognize in herself. I keep this in mind in my work as an astrologer, striving to tell my clients the best truth about themselves. I manage this pretty well in my work, but in my personal life I sometimes get sloppy and say the wrong things. I’m sure I’ll continue to make mistakes in my attempt to practice impeccability in my word.

As will you, most likely. At this Full Moon, square outspoken Mars in Sagittarius, candid, air-clearing discussions will be almost inevitable. As we engage in these conversations with the people close to us, let’s imagine that Ruiz is right, and that our words have the power to cast spells. If you convict someone of being untrustworthy, intellectually lazy, or a loser, then that is the spell you are casting. But if you let someone know that you believe them to be worthy of love and capable of great things, then maybe they will believe that, too.

© 2018 April Elliott Kent

Want to know when new articles are posted? Subscribe to my mailing list – it’s free, I’ll never share your address, and you’ll get my free monthly lunar workbook, “Working with the Moon”! Details here.

The post Virgo Full Moon: The Best Truth appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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I am not by nature a leader of men, nor a joiner of groups. Which is why it’s weird that, for the past several years, I’ve found myself in the unlikely position of President of my local astrology group. I must say that the experience has been an invaluable immersion course in the nature of groups.

I’ve nearly always found group dynamics tough going. My generally outgoing persona is a triumph of grit over profound shyness and crankiness; as a little kid, I hid under the furniture when people came over to visit. Even now, in my fifties, that old desire to hide flares up when I find myself in gatherings of more than a few people. As president of my group or as a guest speaker for another, I’m okay—the role itself bolsters me—but as a member of the rank and file, I sit there feeling myself fade like an old photograph.

Even for those who don’t share my discomfort, and even in the best of groups, there are moments when in-fighting, competition, one-upsmanship, cliquishness, and inflexibility threaten to disrupt the peace and prevent progress. One thing I’ve learned is that in group settings, the individual voice can struggle to express itself; and when an individual doesn’t feel seen or appreciated, the Sun begins to throw out angry sparks.

This New Moon is in Aquarius, the sign of groups and of collective action. But groups are networks of individuals; and unless individuals know they are appreciated, they can’t afford to immerse themselves fully in a group experience, for fear their light will be extinguished altogether. It’s no coincidence that the Sun is traditionally classified as in its detriment in Aquarius—it’s hard for the Sun’s sovereignty to express itself there.

Still, there are some things that can only be achieved by people working together, and feeling part of something like that can be truly magical. In my early twenties, toiling away as a solitary singer/songwriter, I was eventually recruited by a band to be their lead singer. I had no idea it would be so much fun to create a wall of sound with these guys, or to simply hang out with them after rehearsal, watching horror movies.

One of those bandmates was born with the Sun in Aquarius, and he was one of the most cheerful, easy-going guys I’ve ever known. No one ever had a bad word to say about him. We didn’t really stay in touch over the years, but it didn’t surprise me to learn that he became a beloved stalwart of his small community.  He devoted himself not only to his own family and a few hand-picked friends, but to a community.  With characteristic modesty and good cheer, he served the sorts of organizations that my generation mostly recalls from our parents’ involvement in them during a more civic-minded era: the Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus, the Rotary Club. No one swam more happily in the community pool than he did. And when Mike passed away last month, far too young and very suddenly, an estimated one thousand people turned out to say goodbye.

Whenever I struggle to understand Aquarius, my opposite sign, it helps me to think of it this way: The Sun is always about where we shine, and where come alive—and for a certain kind of Aquarius, that happens within community. As a Leo, I fear the eclipsing of my hard-won individuality within a group. A Leo with a stronger sense of self might worry that, like the Sun itself, it must be at the center or else the universe will careen off into chaos. The primordial Leo motto, immortalized by my double Leo cousin as teenager, is “What about me??”

But at this New Moon, as the light of the Aquarius Sun is dimmed by a partial solar eclipse, I’m thinking of Mike, to whom it would never have occurred to ask that question. I know there must be some people who take refuge in groups because they don’t want to take the risk of standing out. But then there are Aquarians who simply come alive within fraternities of shared interest, whether they gather to make music or build a community; who find their light through playing well with others.

Humans are tribal creatures, and it’s the rare few of us who can be happy with a completely solitary existence. But I think it’s unusual, too, to bloom so spectacularly within a community garden—because we’re each of us little solar systems, too, with ourselves at the center, sovereign Suns who need to shine. Solar eclipses have a way of plunging us into darkness, even if only for a few days, to understand something of what life could look like from a less heliocentric vantage point. See how it feels to let yourself wander into another orbit for a little while, to be a satellite pulled by the gravity of something larger than yourself. Does it seem dark and cold, a little frightening… or can you let yourself glide happily through the stars, Aquarius style, dancing happily by the light of other solar systems?

© 2018 April Elliott Kent

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Image from Circle-Art, Deviant Art

Chances are, your birth chart contains at least one planetary configuration so dreadful that astrologers take one look and gasp: “How do you live with that?”

And you shrug. Because it’s like having been born with blue eyes or red hair: that’s the way it’s always been for you, so you’re pretty much used to it, much the way one gets used to a throbbing arthritic joint. A hypothetically awful aspect is your cross to bear, as Sister Rita used to say. But the very aspects that inspire terror in the casual observer are, potentially, your treasure.

Planets woven together by difficult aspects are as strong as steel. They represent problems you can’t ignore, and conflicts that chew at you until you find a resolution – or at least détente. They describe your defining attributes; and each time an eclipse scores a glancing blow off these aspects (about every four and a half years), you’re given another chance to become a little bit more … you.

So not even the most unpleasant natal aspect is inherently awful. And despite the unease they inspire, neither are eclipses. Some are part of a larger and more daunting planetary picture with global implications. Personally, however, we tend to experience eclipses most strongly when they form close aspects (especially conjunctions, squares, and oppositions) to planets in our birth chart. Each time an eclipse aspects one of the planetary crosses that you bear, a narrative of change emerges – one that is repeated over and over throughout your lifetime.

Unless an eclipse triggers these high-tension natal aspects, or falls very close to the cusps of the first, fourth, seventh, or tenth houses, you are likely to experience its influence as relatively subtle, like the flutter of a leaf in a chilling breeze. But let one of your more sensitive aspects get triggered, and it’s the difference between a doctor checking your reflexes during an exam and hammering an arthritic knee.

  • Eclipse aspecting the natal Sun: If life is a movie, the Sun is the protagonist – however flawed – for whom we cheer. Each of us is born to be the hero of our own life story; but often, timidity or false modesty persuades us to hand over that role to others. When eclipses aspect your natal Sun, you are thrust into the starring role, or must fight to reclaim it. Sometimes, authority figures like parents or bosses abdicate or must be overthrown in order for you to live an authentic life.
  • Eclipses aspecting the natal Moon – From the moment we’re ripped from mom’s womb, we seek to reclaim the security and safety that we knew there. We feather our nests, stock the pantry with foods we like, and surround ourselves with people who make us feel comfortable. But when eclipses aspect the natal Moon, something – a new living situation, a change in health – may leave you feeling as exposed as a crab with her shell cracked open.
  • Eclipses aspecting Mercury: How do you define yourself? Usually, it begins with a name. Then, with your rank in the family pecking order, on the playground, in the workplace. Finally, numbers (grades in school, age, numbers on a paycheck) define you. When eclipses aspect natal Mercury, the god of definition, prepare for a change in your name, rank, or serial number – and for a change in how you define yourself. Mercury is the storyteller, so maybe it’s time to rewrite the story of your life.
  • Eclipses aspecting Venus: If only each of us were endowed with flawless confidence, great relationships, bountiful self-esteem, and oodles of cash! Eclipse aspects to Venus remind us that world will not always give us the treatment, whether kind or cruel, that we think we deserve. This awareness usually comes through financial challenges, relationship transitions, or your feelings about your attractiveness.
  • Eclipses aspecting Mars: Mars is a trained, ruthless guard dog that answers only to you. He guards you and your home, defends your reputation, and helps you get all the things that you want. When eclipses aspect natal Mars, the watch dog is stirred up and straining at his leash; get what’s yours, but don’t let anyone get hurt.
  • Eclipses aspecting Jupiter: When was the last time you had an adventure? When eclipses aspect Jupiter, you’re itching to take a chance, to feel the thrill of being completely alive. These can be times when you overreach out of sheer optimism; but they are also moments when your life jumps tracks and starts moving in a new direction.
  • Eclipses aspecting Saturn: When eclipses aspect Saturn, you may feel worn out and discouraged. Probably, you’ve outgrown your life or are playing by outdated rules. But you’ll never get anywhere by blaming others for your problems. Regardless of how things got this way, what are you going to do to make your life better?
  • Eclipses aspecting Uranus: When eclipses aspect Uranus, you may feel like a misfit – and that can hurt. Recognizing who your friends are (and aren’t), and looking for a tribe that lets you be yourself, is the challenge of these eclipses.
  • Eclipses aspecting Neptune: These eclipses compel you to examine your blind spots, question your faith, and dispute what you previously thought was indisputable. If you’ve been fooling yourself – like a wife who ignores the signs that her husband has strayed, or the man who is disillusioned by his womanizing guru – these eclipses can deliver a wakeup call.
  • Eclipses aspecting Pluto: In each of us, there is a dark side. There are feelings that are unworthy of us – rage, jealousy, fear, covetousness. They weaken us, making us slaves to our emotions and to people who are more self-possessed. When eclipses aspect Pluto, we meet that dark self and the others who embody it for us, grappling with power and the need for control.
  • Eclipses aspecting the Lunar Nodes: As children, we need the boundaries and protection of familiar settings and people; the job of our parents is to prepare us to go out into the world with a strong foundation, so we can move toward unfamiliar and rewarding challenges. That’s what’s challenged when eclipses conjoin or square the natal Lunar Nodes: it’s time to leave the comfort of the nest and claim some measure of our potential.
  • Eclipses aspecting the Ascendant: There are places – some external, some internal – that hinge us to the world, and everything else is oriented from them. That’s the role of the Ascendant. When eclipses aspect this point, we are called to change that orientation, sometimes voluntarily – a change of appearance, of name, of home, of outlook – sometimes in response to something from outside us. All the other angles of the chart, but particularly the Descendant, reverberate from these changes.
  • Eclipses aspecting the Midheaven: This is the mast on which your personal flag flies, visible from long distances, and it’s the first thing people notice about you. With any luck, it is derived from the opposite point in the chart, the IC, the dowsing rod that locates the inner fountain of family connectedness that nourishes you. When eclipses aspect this point, you may feel it’s time to pursue a calling, or move to a place, that better reflects your true self.

Combine these descriptions to better understand the sensitive points in your own chart that will be awakened by the upcoming eclipses on Jan. 31, 2018 (lunar eclipse at 11.37 Leo) and Feb. 15, 2018 (solar eclipse at 27.08 Aquarius). If a planet in your birth chart, or the Ascendant/Midheaven, falls:

  • between 7 and 15 degrees of Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, or Taurus (Jan. 31 eclipse), or
  • between 23 Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius, or Taurus; and 1 degree of Virgo, Sagittarius, Gemini, or Pisces  (Feb. 15 eclipse)

… then your reflexes will be working overtime… and that arthritic knee is going to be really, really sore.

© April Elliott Kent All rights reserved.

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Certainly, eclipses falling in your 7th house (or in aspect to natal Venus or your 7th house ruler) are signals that your relationship world is likely to be rocked by change. But all lunar eclipses, regardless of which houses they fall in, represent critical moments in evaluating relationships. At a Lunar Eclipse, the Sun and Moon are in opposition (Full Moon), an aspect that reveals us to ourselves through our personal interactions. The January 31, 2018 Lunar Eclipse at 11.37 Leo reflects the degree to which we’re able to offer our full, loving selves in relationship, joyfully and unguarded.

For those who aren’t in a romantic relationship, or are in one that isn’t going well, eclipses might well mark times of finding or ending a romance. But what if you’re in a romantic relationship or partnership and it’s going just fine? Your union may come through these eclipses intact and strong, with only a few long-delayed adjustments. If the rest of your birth chart bears this out, however – and especially if this year’s eclipses are impacting those sensitive relationship areas I mentioned above – you may well find that your happy relationship isn’t as secure as it seemed.

On the other hand, romantic partnerships are not the only relationships in our lives (just the ones we’re most likely to be obsessed about). What about the 99.999% of the relationships in our lives that don’t involve yearning looks across a crowded room or intimate physical contact? What might the upcoming lunar eclipse have to say about the ordinary human connections among family members, friends, colleagues, and casual acquaintances? Here are some thoughts:

If you are born with the Sun or Ascendant (especially within 7.37 – 15.37 degrees of the sign) in:

Aries/Libra – the relationships most likely to be impacted for you are those with friends, associates, and assorted soulmates, including: creative and political allies, your children and pets, those with whom you share love (or at least attraction) at first sight, fans of your work, and fellow members of community, fraternal, or trade organizations.

Taurus/Scorpio –  This eclipse suggests changes in your home and heart, and in your career direction. Where are you coming from – and where are you headed? Relationships especially subject to crisis and review are those between parents and children, between bosses and employees, and any relationship in which one person has more status than the other.

Gemini/Sagittarius – The relationships most likely to be impacted by these eclipses include those involving neighbors, siblings, teachers, clergy, and fascinating foreigners.

Cancer/Capricorn – Here’s where things are likely to get a little sexy, because the relationships most likely to be impacted by these eclipses are those involving your earnings, possessions, security, shared resources, and physical and/or psychological intimacy – including your therapist, your financial manager, and, yes, the person/persons who share your bed.

Virgo/Pisces – Look for charged relationships with co-workers, those in charge of your health care, service animals, spiritual advisers, hidden enemies, and those with whom you have an unequal relationship (for instance, employees, or those people whom you admire, but who don’t return your affection – or your phone calls).

Leo/Aquarius– Yours are the signs most likely to experience critical transitions in your romantic partnerships, closest friendships, and business collaborations. You may begin a new relationship, leave one that isn’t working, or make important changes in an ongoing relationship. For Leo in particular, this is an eclipse that requires you take a long look at the way you’re presenting yourself, how well you’re taking care of yourself, and how effectively you’re balancing your own needs with those of the people closest to you.

The Lunar Eclipse is at 11.37 Leo on Jan. 31, 2018 at 5:27 am PST | 8:27 am EST | 1:26 pm GMT | 0:26 am AEDT (Feb. 1)

For more thoughts about eclipses in your chart, visit my eclipse astrology page for articles and information about my exclusive eclipse report, Followed by a Moonshadow!

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When I was younger, I knew women who would only date artists or musicians – even when their creative gifts came bundled with drug use, financial irresponsibility, or infidelity. During my years singing in a band, a lot of these women would hang around after the show, waiting to meet the guitarist or the drummer, and this baffled me. Having worked with so many musicians since I was a teenager, they held no romantic mystery for me. But I also felt that many women who were obsessed with artists were really missing out on something special: the thrill, validation, and power that come from being a creator and performer. I couldn’t imagine that romantic involvement with musicians, writers, or athletes would be nearly as satisfying. Better to feed your own creative Leo lionness, I thought – to become the musician, the writer, the athlete.

But my dirty little secret was that I’d become a musician not just for the satisfaction of self-expression, but because I was a social misfit without a lot of options. Unlike the girls who hung around backstage at the clubs where my band played, who traveled in tight, homogeneously attractive groups, I didn’t fit societal ideals about femininity. And to be honest, I envied – still envy – women who “fit in.” Even now I often feel out of place at a bridal shower or girl’s night out.

There are those who do groups well—let’s call them “Aquarian”—and those who never feel right traveling in packs. Those of us with untapped Aquarius energy wander through life feeling as though we missed school on the day social networking skills were taught. Humans are social animals, and we’re hard-wired to crave the very Aquarian experience of belonging. But if fitting in means surrendering the ideas, gifts, and self-expression that are uniquely ours, our Leo selves insist that it’s too dear a price to pay.

As it turned out, not fitting in has proved to be one of my greatest blessings. I remember thinking early on that if I couldn’t fit in, I’d damn well make the best of standing out. So I gave myself over completely to music and later to writing, and in the end, a wonderful thing happened: By standing out, I somehow managed to find my place–to find love, acceptance, and friendship on my own terms.

Every now and then, the odd Uranus transit or progressed planet in Aquarius gives me a taste of what it’s like to simply, effortlessly, belong – to take enjoyment and energy from social connections. But when the transit passes and I return to the social wilderness, I don’t mind. There are creative treasures to be found there. I find myself there.

With the Sun, Venus, and the Moon’s South Node all in Aquarius at this Full Moon, collective identity and common purpose are energized and rewarded, to the extent that your Leo self may be feeling a tad undernourished. And since this Full Moon brings a Lunar Eclipse in Leo, painful memories of creative, romantic, and social hurts may be stirring. Rather than pushing these unhappy memories hastily to one side, perhaps there’s something to be learned from them.

Eclipses kick up ancient anthills and beg us to retrace our steps, to unravel the thread that connects similar moments in our lives. Look back, for instance, to 1981, 1990/91, 1998/99, 2000, 2008/2009. Where were you, what were you were doing, and what was important to you? You may remember creative breakthroughs, and how those breakthroughs were received by others; situations or relationships that brought you a gratifying sense of belonging, or painful moments when it felt you would never, ever fit in. Let the memories of both kinds of experiences be instructive during this eclipse season.

Here’s a story of learning from one of the years in this eclipse cycle. My first book was published in 2008, and it was an overwhelming, not entirely positive experience. Seeing it listed on Amazon was the stuff of naked-in-public nightmares. And the book’s reception, especially from my peers, was not entirely positive. That was hard. But here’s what I learned: Whenever I’ve done my very best work, the work that truly reflects who I am, it doesn’t remotely matter to me what anyone else thinks of it. That’s the truth. I treasure kind feedback, of course, but the other sort doesn’t even register. Because in a very real sense, making your own kind of music (as the old song goes) is its own reward.

When eclipses fall in Aquarius and Leo, we’re asked to remember what kind of fuel powers the engine of our hearts, and to seek our place in the hearts of others. If you’re feeling tired and stale, schedule some time alone for creative play. If you’ve been feeling as though you don’t belong anywhere, maybe it’s because you’re trying to fit yourself into shapes that don’t suit you. This Leo Lunar Eclipse moment is an opportunity to step back for a moment and get reacquainted with your passions—to make your own kind of musicand to trust that they will unite you with the people to whom you truly belong.

© 2009/2018 April Elliott Kent. All rights reserved.

The post Leo Lunar Eclipse: Make Your Own Kind of Music appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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