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classic Twilight Zone episode tells the story of seemingly benign aliens who have come to earth and pledged their help to mankind. Indeed, one of their seminal texts is entitled “To Serve Man.” Imagine the dismayed surprise of the humanoids who, having clasped these aliens to their bosoms, belatedly discover that the book is not a paean to intergalactic relations, as they’d imagined–but a cookbook!

It’s a clever twist on not just the word, but the concept of service, which in astrology is most often associated with Virgo. The sign of work, of diligent care on behalf of others, nevertheless has a rather nasty reputation–not entirely undeserved–for its hypercritical shadow side. Interestingly, the slang expression “you’ve been served” is a taunt that declares you’ve been called out and shown up. And certainly, if you get on a Virgo’s bad side you may feel as though you’ve “been served”–or, in the case of those crafty aliens, as though you’re about to be served up!

But Virgo also symbolizes the very noble impulse toward usefulness. It represents the hundreds of people who impact your daily life. No matter how menial the task, another’s approach to his work can have a profound influence on the quality of your day. The barista who serves up your morning coffee can set the day’s tone with a smile and a little joke or can seemingly go out of his way to piss you off. A mechanic who’s having a bad day might forget an important step in servicing your car’s brakes–and that could influence the rest of your life.

I’ll bet it’s easier for you to think of half a dozen people who’ve recently given you poor service than it is to name even half as many who’ve offered help with a smile. Why does it seem so many people are unhappy in their work? Apart from things like sustenance wages and job insecurity, I think it’s mainly for two reasons.

No matter how menial the task, another’s approach to his work can have a profound influence on the quality of your day.

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irst, it’s because their work doesn’t connect them to the spiritual underpinnings of their lives. The difference between pitching in to wash dishes after a charity pancake breakfast, and washing dishes at a minimum wage job, is that one feels like a contribution to society and the other usually doesn’t. No one likes to feel as though she’s wasting her life. I would argue that no task is demeaning if you’re doing it for a meaningful cause. Any task done over and over, day in and day out can get boring. But washing dishes for my family every day, while it can get dull, never feels demeaning, because it’s a contribution I’m making to my home.

But the other reason for disgruntled workers is a little more subtle. One of the most important transits of this year brings together Jupiter in Sagittarius and Neptune in Pisces, a powerful combination that excites the imagination toward big dreams for a new and more inspiring world. But while dreaming of a beautiful world is all well and good, someone has to be willing to roll up their sleeves and make the dreams a reality. Behind every great achievement is some diligent helper wearing sensible shoes and a headset, supervising logistics from the wings. Where would we be without good, patient, Virgo-like souls with a knack for untangling messes, who can get the printer to work and troubleshoot the problem with the wireless network?

Unfortunately, while every family, every workplace, and every cause needs such people, they often don’t appreciate them. All too often, the tendency is to take them for granted, to notice them only when something has gone wrong, and to ignore their sensible warnings about system backups until the computer has crashed and taken with it all of our artwork. We think we can get away with it, because they are such nice people, so helpful, so patient. We splash around in the waters of creativity and big, important undertakings, secure in the knowledge that if we get in over our heads, some kindly lifeguard type will rescue us. And generally, they do. That’s how they’re built.

Unfortunately, while every family, every workplace, and every cause needs good, patient, Virgo-like souls, they often don’t appreciate them.

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ntil one day, they’ve had about enough. The long-suffering grade school Room Mother receives an early morning phone call from a More Important Parent with no time to bake cookies; surely Long-Suffering Room Mother can do it for her! The overworked IT guy, feverishly attending to the needs of thirty staff members and sixty temperamental machines, gets an impromptu visit from his supervisor, who needs help–urgently!–with her personal email account. The long-suffering astrologer, whose wages barely place him above the national poverty line, gets yet another epic email from someone detailing every problem in her life and insisting the astrologer read her chart for free, because hers is such a worthy and exceptional cause.

And suddenly, the Virgo volcano erupts. Like all earth signs, Virgo has a long fuse… which makes its eventual meltdowns all the more impressive and kind of scary. And because Virgo is ruled by Mercury, he or she can carve you up with an estimable blend of withering sarcasm and impressive vocabulary choices.

And then, of course, it’s Virgo– the unappreciated, overworked, underpaid gaffer on the set of everybody else’s big-budget motion picture–who is the bad guy. And if you’ve ever done a favor that went unacknowledged or picked up the slack for someone who took advantage of your kindness, that “Virgo” has been you. Is it any wonder so few of us are willing to go the extra mile to help another person?

Like all earth signs, Virgo has a long fuse… which makes its eventual meltdowns all the more impressive and kind of scary.

At this Full Moon in Virgo, by all means indulge the desire to dream big, idealistic dreams. These are the visions that move us forward as a civilization. But remember that the millions of people who perform society’s less glamorous tasks, who work hard to develop valuable skills, and who patiently midwife our dreams with push-brooms, wrenches, an editing pencil, and computer code, deserve our appreciation and respect.

So, take a Virgo to lunch. Thank your kid’s teachers. And if an alien tries to coax you into a large, simmering pot of water, just say no.

©2010-2019 April Elliott Kent
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The post Virgo Full Moon: To Serve Man appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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Ill-fitting conjunctions, startling oppositions, & shouty squares Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone. Click them to see the date and time where you are.
Tight shoes

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s the week begins, the Sun enters Pisces (Feb. 18, 3:04 pm) on the same day Venus makes a conjunction to Saturn (2:52 am) and Mercury conjoins Neptune (10:36 pm). Venus in Capricorn sometimes believes there is a formula to love that, if followed exactly, will yield the desired results; in a conjunction to its planetary ruler, Saturn, that formula is, “Work hard, sacrifice, and grit your teeth through the hard bits.” Sometimes, this results in something like forcing a foot into an uncomfortable new shoe; yes, you might be able to stretch out the shoe, but you might also end up with bunions.

I just celebrated my 26th Valentine’s Day with the same man. No one makes it through a quarter century of marriage without appreciating the qualities of Saturn. But Saturn can’t do it alone. I think of us have seem people push themselves into a tight-fitting shoe for years, enduring relationship like prison, until one day something snaps; and then the shoe goes flying off, and the relationship breaks, scary and hard, like a femur.

The Sun’s month-long dip into Piscean waters is a season to celebrate the other side of the relationship equation: flexibility, empathy, and kindness. In this context, working on a relationship might look less like barbells, and more like the gentle yielding to another’s shape and tempo. Mercury conjoining Neptune reminds us to communicate with empathy, intuition – and sometimes, forgiveness.

Wheat from the chaff

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he Full Moon is inherently relationship-oriented. The Sun and Moon stand in opposition, observing each other completely and without impediment. But what we see in others is as much a reflection of ourselves as the reality of who they are.

The Full Moon’s sign describes something in ourselves that we’re initially seeking – and then, sometimes, alarmed to find – in others. This Full Moon (Feb. 19, 7:54 am) pits the forgiving Sun in Pisces against the discerning Moon in Virgo; and on the same day, Mercury makes a sextile to aspect to no-nonsense Saturn (Feb. 19, 6:39 pm). On the heels of yesterday’s Pisces/Neptune gentleness, the Full Moon shows us what it looks like when we don’t soften our stance. Criticism of others, or theirs toward us, should make us wonder: Why do we feel the need to hold ourselves apart from each other in this way?

Mind you, there are times we need to protect ourselves. Not everyone has our best interests at heart. Some people are an energy drain, demanding too much attention and deference at our expense. Virgo helps us see that. And the more adept we are at separating from the wheat from the chaff, the more safely and fully we can surrender to the tenderness that Pisces requires.

Cranky, shouty, itchy

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quares are cranky, shouty, itchy aspects; like mom or dad making us get up to go to school, or the alarm clock shrilling at us that it’s time to go to work, squares make us do what we don’t necessarily feel like doing.

On the other hand, as I’ve often said, if you have to deal with squares, squares involving Jupiter are the way to go. My mom, who had Jupiter rising in her birth chart, was the most effervescently positive person I’ve ever known. Even as she prodded me to do something that was the molecular opposite of what I wanted to do, she could eventually get me to laugh about it – or at least make me forget that I didn’t want to do it in the first place. Add the motivation of a square to the effervescence of Jupiter, and that’s an itch that’s kind of fun to scratch.

Mercury’s square to Jupiter (February 22, 12:39 pm) is a fleeting aspect, just one quick day – but that can sometimes be enough to change your whole mindset and to motivate you in the direction of your dreams. Mercury is in Pisces now, which is ruled by Jupiter; it’s a pretty upbeat Mercury placement as it is – but combine it with Jupiter, and it’s downright giddy. If you’re looking for a good day to brainstorm, this is it. And if you’ve been hold yourself back from showing the world that you’re smart and creative, this is the kind of planetary alarm clock that will wake you up and make you speak up.

© 2019 April Elliott Kent

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The post Highlights Feb. 18-24, 2019 appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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Moving slow & getting carried away Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone. Click them to see the date and time where you are.
Bullish

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First Quarter Moon brings an energetic mandate to forge ahead and transcend your comfort zone.

(That snort you just heard was from Taurus, hating that entire sentence.)

The First Quarter Moon in Taurus (Feb. 12, 2:26 pm) has the propulsive quality of a bull launched out of a chute and into a bullfighting ring. One minute the bull is loitering peacefully, munching on some grass, and the next minute a guy in a gaudy suit is shaking a red cape at him. The bull can be forgiven for getting a little bit carried away and a tad imprecise about where his horns land.

But before he can get carried away, he’s got to get moving in the first place. It’s winter Up Over, and cold, and many of us are moving slowly. It’s hibernation time. Forcing our slow-moving, bullish selves out into the world takes considerable energy and extra work, and a bit of courage as well. Being a bit patient with ourselves will make it easier to be gentler with others—and to avoid goring innocent bystanders. (Consider this an advance drill for Mars entering Taurus on Valentine’s Day; more on that later.)

“Now that he had accepted the slowness of himself, he took pleasure in the distance he covered.”
― Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

An electric car

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f I were to create a set of Sabian Symbols for planetary aspects, the conjunction of Mars and Uranus (Feb. 12, 10:20 pm) would be, An electric car. And as the conjunction forms at the last degree of Aries, this is specifically a red electric car, eerily quiet and very, very fast. It’s exhilarating to cruise along a winding highway at top speed, but the faster you go, the more dangerous it gets. What happens if you hit a pothole, or a jackrabbit runs in from of your car and you instinctively swerve to avoid hitting it? Catastrophe is always near when you’re moving at high speed.

But that’s Saturn talking, I suppose. When impatient Mars comes together with unpredictable Uranus in Aries, it’s not really our job to be cautious or to look ahead to what could go wrong. Rather, we’re meant to play Butch and Sundance, poised at the edge of a crevasse with a posse in hot pursuit, and to hold our breath and jump. At least with both planets headed for Taurus, we’ll land on solid ground – which, depending on how fast we’re moving, could lead either to stability or a rude awakening.

Sundance, refusing to jump off a cliff: “I can’t swim!”

Butch (laughs hard): “Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya!”

Feats of strength

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ars spends Valentine’s Day moving from Aries, his home sign, to Taurus (Feb. 14, 2:51 am), where he must work a lot harder to perform his feats of strength. Here, an irresistible force meets an immovable object, and all the Mars in Aries momentum of the past couple of months (since Dec. 31, 2018) hits a proverbial brick wall.

Mars in Taurus is not without its strengths, though. It’s sexy, for one thing. (Happy Valentine’s Day.) And if you’ve been trying to accomplish something that requires patience and persistence, you’ll find it much easier with Mars in Taurus than you did while Mars was in impulsive, fast-moving Aries. It’s easier to manage your temper, too, though anger does tend to back up while Mars is in Taurus, only to explode later on at an inopportune moment. The key is to manage your anger, not to extinguish it.

“I’m in no hurry: the sun and the moon aren’t, either.
Nobody goes faster than the legs they have.
If where I want to go is far away, I’m not there in an instant.”
― Alberto Caeiro

Preexisting conditions

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ebruary 17 brings two important sextile aspects – between Venus and Neptune, and between the Sun and Uranus. Sextiles, which naturally form between planets in signs with complementary qualities, indicate cooperation and fresh opportunities. When Venus and Neptune are sexile (Feb. 17, 0:44 am), the opportunity exists to let new relationships develop; and since Venus symbolizes money, there may be an opening for artistic ventures to prosper.

As odd couple Sun and Uranus are sextile (Feb. 17, 11:55 pm), try standing apart from your own and societal expectations in order to be more fully yourself. Personal identity is challenged in an exciting way when these two planets meet; there’s the sense that you know exactly who you are, and the growing awareness that you’ll have to surrender those preexisting ideas of yourself if you want to become something more.

“Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”
― C. JoyBell C.

© 2019 April Elliott Kent
Ready to get personal? Learn about my personal readings and other offerings in my online store.

The post Highlights Feb. 11-17, 2018 appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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rowing up as part of a big, loud, extended family, I spent a lot of time alone in my bedroom, reading, writing, or playing my guitar. I savored my privacy and the relative quiet of my little sanctuary.

But what made it possible for me to enjoy my time alone was knowing that just outside my bedroom door, there were laughing, loving people. It was comforting to know that whenever I wanted to, I could join the party.

As an adult, this is what I still love about my family – and about my friends, too. They leave me alone when I need solitude, but when I’m ready for socializing, I’m always welcome. With them, I always feel that there’s a place where I belong – and that makes me happy.

Astrologers say that friendship is ruled by Aquarius, but friends come in a variety of packages. Aquarius’ particular brand of friendship is not the close, intimate, occasionally dramatic bond between “best friends;” those relationships are part of Libra’s purview, along with marriage, business partners, and “frenemies.”

Aquarius-style friendships generally sidestep the high emotional stakes of those relationships. They are the mesh tank tops of relationships – loosely-knit alliances that keep us covered but let us breathe. They are the connections that let us feel like a part of society without losing our independence.

Aquarius is a sociable sign, but a freedom-loving one as well; and in your birth chart it prescribes plenty of breathing room. Astrologers often describe Aquarians as erratic and a little wild; these qualities are a good fit with Uranus, Aquarius’ ruling planet. But Aquarius’ traditional ruler is anything-but-crazy Saturn, and when someone with Aquarius strong in their chart suddenly drops out of sight one day, there’s nothing crazy about it. Aquarius needs air and space, and when they feel closed in by too many demands on their time and emotions, they’ll run as far away as they need to.

The Aquarian’s Key to Happiness

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n the house in your chart where Aquarius lives, you can only be really happy when you’re able to enjoy other people in your own time and on your own terms. Here, you need to find the right balance between the chaos of sociability and the delicious, cool, certainty of solitude.

While the Sun is in Aquarius (each year between about January 22 and February 18), it shines a spotlight on the importance of happy, casual social connections based on shared interests. Under the glare of this spotlight you may notice, perhaps, where you’ve neglected the social pacts that keep these impersonal but vital relationships healthy. Keep your distance for too long and the connections and goodwill wither away – not from rancor or bitterness, but from a simple lack of nourishment and sunlight.

Social media often give us the feeling that we’re nurturing our social connections. Group action and collective participation certainly can and do happen in our online lives, and we have more ways than ever to keep in touch with our friends. But are those interactions as satisfying as the in-person gatherings that seemed more common even a decade ago? Maybe not. As ethnographer Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, said, “I think there are ways in which we’re constantly communicating and yet not making enough good connections.”

Have you been too long away from the little groups that fill your life with a sense of belonging? Missed too many weeks at church, perhaps, or too many neighborhood block parties? Passed up too many coffee breaks with your usual group of work friends?

How long can you neglect ties like these before they break? It varies from person to person, from group to group, but you know. You know when you begin to feel a lack of balance in your life, a paucity of happy, uncomplicated places where you can simply show up, be yourself, and have the sense that you belong there.

The good news is, these are amazingly resilient and forgiving relationships, and to reestablish them is so easy: All you have to do is show up. At this New Moon in Aquarius, it may be time to recommit to doing just that. It might mean tearing yourself away from a relaxing evening at home, following the world on Facebook. But that’s a pretty small price to pay for membership in a club that, as Aquarius knows, is vital to your happiness: the big, loud, extended family of the human race.

© 2013-2019 April Elliott Kent

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The post Aquarius New Moon: Connections appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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Prosperous pigs, broken eggs, and echolocation Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone. Click them to see the date and time where you are.
The true nature of success

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his week’s New Moon in Aquarius (Feb. 4, 1:03 pm) also ushers in the Chinese year of the Earth Pig, a sign that is associated with wealth (the piggy bank is not a coincidence). Fittingly, the Sun and Moon at this New Moon are in close and auspicious aspect to Jupiter, the planet or wealth and good fortune, and on the Sabian Symbol, A big-business man at his desk.

If you’re a career-oriented person, you probably sat down with your calendars and planners around January 1 to sketch out your goals, resolutions, and objectives for 2019. But by all rights, this New Moon is when your personal fiscal year should really begin.

But let’s back up for just one second. Because pursuing earthly success is fine, but it must be balanced against matters of less tangible value, such as a happy home life and strong emotional relationships. The Moon’s South Node – the point of release, what we’re meant to be letting go –  is moving through Capricorn, the sign of big business, this year; in April, it will pass over difficult Pluto and Saturn. So taking care of business is important, but guard against becoming a workaholic obsessed with the bottom line. The true nature of success, this year, is the ability to care for our loved ones and to create a warm sense of community with those who share our passions and pursuits.

Bearing all of that in mind, the Sun’s exact sextile aspect to Jupiter (Feb. 7, 4:32 pm) is one of the year’s better moments to take a little bit of a risk and try something new. Good fortune is in the vicinity today, but only really useful to those who recognize it and reach out to grab it as it goes by. If you’re celebrating a birthday this week, you have this influence in your chart all year long; this could be a particularly uplifting year, particularly if you wish to travel more or further your education, both of which are favored by Jupiter.

Omelets

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he Crescent Moon (Feb. 8, 4:26 pm) begins in Aries, and the combination of the Moon (and Mars) in Aries with the Sun in Aquarius is a formidable one. Aquarius has a strong sense of what it wants and what is important, and Aries will stop at nothing to get it; this is true of the Crescent phase, generally, when it’s easy to get obsessed with new ideas. Mars and Uranus are approaching a conjunction, though, which will be exact next week. Two such impulsive, restless planets in a sign that is not known for its restraint can get a lot done, but have been known to break more than a few eggs on the way to making that omelet. Count to ten before saying or writing something that could start a fight, and leave plenty of time to get from place to place, because being in a hurry makes accidents more likely.

Mars squares the Lunar Nodes the next day (Feb. 9, 0:08 am). The North Node in Cancer and South Node in Capricorn describe a fundamental quandary that I touched on earlier: how can we achieve all we want in worldly terms without neglecting or otherwise harming our close emotional bonds? Mars triggers this issue all this week, but particularly on Feb. 9. If you’re moving fast but without a lot of consciousness, the result could be broken bonds and hurt feelings. But perhaps you’ve been sitting on the fence for awhile, afraid to take decisive action that will bring your work and home lives into better balance and integration – stepping down from a high-powered job, for an example – and this week, that conflict comes to a head.

Wavelengths

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ercury enters Pisces (Feb. 10, 2:50 am) this week, a sign where it must work a little harder to get its point across. The work of Mercury is rational, quantitative, clear; in Pisces, it can be like a radio being forced to transmit its signal under water. Normally, this would signal a few weeks of have to be creatively adaptive in your communication style. But Mercury will be in Pisces a pretty long time, because it will retrograde at the end of the sign on March 5 and won’t enter Aries until April 17. So this points to something a little more substantial that needs to be addressed in how we’re perceiving the truth of the world and communicating with each other about it.

The solution lies in finding a means of communication that is better suited than a radio to underwater communication. Whales use echolocation, for instance, finding their way around through reflected sound. The key to Mercury in Pisces is looking for a way to get onto other people’s wavelengths rather than insisting that they get onto yours. Having trouble communicating with your partner? Put together a mix tape for them! Having problems finishing a piece of writing for work? Grab a sheet of paper and plot it out in a series of drawings. Not all communication happens with words, and this week we begin the shift toward more creative, imaginative, and empathetic ways of understanding one another.

© 2019 April Elliott Kent
Learn about my personal readings and other
offerings in my online store.

The post Highlights for Feb. 4-10, 2019 appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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After the purge Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone. Click them to see the date and time where you are.
A fleet and eager Mercury

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ercury is moving particularly fast as the week begins, en route to a superior conjunction with the Sun (Jan. 29, 6:51 pm). This is the part of Mercury’s cycle, post-retrograde, when perceptions catch up with the life we’re actually living. The feeling of racing to catch up—as in a dream of running, running, and never getting anywhere—subsides for awhile. We’re moving forward. We’re putting together information and concepts and producing little “news segments” from them, eager to share our insights with the world. Mercury will now race past the Sun, eager and curious as a child running ahead of its parents; when it retrogrades again (March 5), the child will return with messages from the not-too-distant future for our examination and incorporation.

A bridge

On Jan. 31 (6:15 am), Saturn and Neptune meet in the first of three sextile aspects they’ll make to each other over the course of 2019 (the other two dates are June 18 and November 8). Astrologically, these two wouldn’t seem, at first glance, to have much in common. Saturn symbolizes boundaries, limits, and structures, while Neptune symbolizes the ways in which all things are connected, as fish in an invisible sea. Neptune rules the imagination, while Saturn concerns himself of making the most of the here and now.

But this year, they are connected by a sextile aspect, signaling an opportunity for the two to cooperate and learn from one another. To the Romans, Saturn was the god of agriculture and bounty, and Neptune the fresh waters used for irrigation. And the power of Neptune’s waters is guided and made useful by Saturn’s boundaries, in everything from fish ponds to levees. The challenge, this year, is to harness the power of each planet in a way that complements and enriches the other. Let Saturn bridge the gap between Neptune’s dreams and reality, and let Neptune’s imagination bring an added layer of meaning to Saturn’s reality.

An explosion

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ack in late April, Mars and Pluto came together in a conjunction, beginning a new two-year cycle of action, battle, and desire (Mars) interacting with power and control (Pluto). Mars and Pluto are a bit too much alike for anyone’s good, and when they come together by aspect the result is likely to be anger, explosions (emotional and literal), and even violence.

Now, Mars and Pluto have reached the first square, or crisis point, in their cycle (Feb. 1, 7:20 pm). Passion that’s been tightly controlled since last spring is now ready to burst forth and find its target. If you have planets close to 21 deg. of the cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn), this aspect brings a test of your ability to harness your energy and direct it toward a positive purpose that benefits the collective, not just yourself.

After the purge

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enus has had fun in Sagittarius (since Jan. 7), Marie Kondo-ing itself into a decluttering frenzy and freeing itself of boxes and bags of unwanted clothing, books, and brick-a-brack. Venus in this freewheeling sign has focused on gaining perspective and appreciating individual freedom, and evaluating relationships, money, and possessions in this light. It’s been relatively easy, especially as Venus trines Uranus (Feb. 2, 3:40 pm), to let go of whatever doesn’t “spark joy” in your life.  But it might be a good idea to pile those bags of unwanted treasures on the back porch for a day or two; Venus is about to change signs, and what we want, what we crave, what’s in fashion, and yes, what sparks joy subtly shifts when Venus changes signs each month or so.

As Venus leaves the wide open, bohemian spaces of Sagittarius, where it’s craved more space and less attachment to things and to people, it enters the much more conventional sign of Capricorn (Feb. 3, 2:29 pm). Here, the gypsy dons on a nicely cut suit. The hobo rents a room. The free spirit of the family surprises everyone by marrying a nice investment banker and wearing sweater sets. And having gotten rid of loads of stuff that doesn’t really suit us, we now hanker after quality – a luxury car, proper jewelry, well-made shoes.

If you’ve spent the past few weeks cleaning your closets – and if you can resist the siren call of luxury consumer items – Venus’ foray through Capricorn is excellent for organizing what is left after the purge. Capricorn has a great sense of organization and finds it quite satisfying to categorize, alphabetize, fold, and generally put things in their proper places.

An interesting door

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ust before last Christmas, Mercury made a conjunction with Jupiter; now, the two make a quick sextile aspect (Feb. 3, 1:54 pm). Opportunity is the keyword for the sextile, and here is an opportunity to take your knowledge, ideas, and information to the next level. Think of going from lower divisional work in college to upper divisional work in your major, where you begin to do research and grapple with more complex ideas.

Mind you, you don’t have to do this, and that’s the other side of the sextile. Unlike a square, which creates an unbearable itch that must be scratched, a sextile says, “Here’s the door – you may walk through or not, as it suits you.” So, challenge yourself a little. Think bigger for yourself. Pick up a challenging book, learn something new. Find an interesting door and walk through it.

© 2019 April Elliott Kent
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The post Highlights for Jan. 28 – Feb. 3, 2019 appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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Chocolate bunnies, the element of surprise, and a hug from Big Daddy Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone. Click them to see the date and time where you are.

If you’re on my mailing list, you know that I’ve been battling a truly rotten flu for the past week. As it is, I’m writing this week’s column through a haze of lingering congestion and fatigue, so please be kind if anything doesn’t quite make sense (hallucinations!) or is not as fully fleshed out as you’ve come to expect (fatigue!) – April

Shoving back

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here’s a particular sort of person who responds to being pushed against the wall by shoving right back. The harder they’re pushed, the harder they shove. They may be outweighed, outranked, or outgunned by an opponent, but they will die in the #@$%! street before they will surrender. The only enemy that can bring them down is their own frustration, a sense of existential impotence. They are pitiless with themselves, and they are not going to give you a lot of sympathy for your shortcomings, either. But if you are willing to fight hard for something, then hand them a sword, because they’ll have your back.

Not all such people were born with Mars square Saturn, but those who were generally fit the profile. And while the planet of war and the planet of boundaries and limits are square by transit (Jan. 21, 3:16 am) most of us will probably feel that somewhere in our lives, a show-down is imminent this week, generally with someone in a position of authority or who is otherwise in a position to make life hard for us. (Look to the houses of your chart with 13.46 Aries/Capricorn in them to locate the battlefield. If you have trouble with this, here’s a blog post to help.) It’s likely a battle that’s been brewing since early April 2018 (when Mars and Saturn met in a conjunction), so go ahead and fight – Mars ends the week in a fortunate position, suggesting a positive outcome.

“You will never be entirely comfortable. This is the truth behind the champion – he is always fighting something. To do otherwise is to settle.” ― Julien Smith, The Flinch

Chocolate bunnies

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enus has a roughly one-year cycle around the Sun, so normally it conjoins Jupiter at least one each year; 2018 was an exception, because of Venus’ long retrograde period. Now, these two crazy lovebirds are back together again in a big, swooning conjunction (Jan. 22, 4:26 am). The two “benefic” planets coming together is a pretty fortunate transit, especially if it’s connecting with something in your birthchart (just look for planets between about 13 and 19 degrees). If you want to ask for something, now’s the time to do it; there are no guarantees you’ll get it, but there’s a better than usual chance. The Sabian symbol for the conjunction degree is “An Easter Service” – so give thanks for any unexpected blessings this week, and enjoy all the extra chocolate bunnies in your Easter basket.

“Sometimes, to have a little good luck is the most brilliant plan.” – Ben, Crimes and Misdemeanors

Zaaaapppp!

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anuary 23 is definitely shaping up to be Mercury’s day; it even falls on Wednesday, the day of the week traditionally associated with the winged messenger. On this day Mercury squares Uranus (3:13 am) and that night, enters Aquarius (9:50 pm). Both conjure images of lightning, fireworks, and generally things with little lightning bolts and wavy lines emanating from in comic books. Here’s a fun exercise; on this date, everytime you see or hear anything startling or unexpected, insert mental comic book conversation balloons that say thinks like, “Sizzle!!” and “Zaaaappp!” and “Yikes!” Uranus loves the element of surprise, and Mercury likes messing with people; you get the two together and it’s apt to manifest in really noticeable, somewhat entertaining, but also potentially vexing ways. It is a little bit like a mini-Mercury retrograde, with devices misbehaving or failing altogether, car batteries going flat, and people saying the damndest things in public. Prepare in advance as best you can, and in the end, try to have a little fun with it.

“When the unexpected meets with the unprepared, over there we find the greatest astonishments!”
― Mehmet Murat ildan

Big Daddy to the rescue

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upiter is definitely in the Santa Claus business this week, as we saw earlier with Venus; on January 25 (9:53 am), he receives a trine from Mars. Do we *want* Mars’ warlike qualities – so recently frustrated by Saturn – given free reign, good fortune, and a warm hug from Big Daddy Jupiter? I mean, maybe not.

But if you’re just a nice, normal, run-of-the-mill person without sociopathic, warmongering tendencies, this day will simply put a soothing balm on Monday’s scraped knee. Things you couldn’t get done earlier in the week, authority figures who interfered or were tough with you, self-critical meltdowns, all give way today to a sense that there has been a turn in the tide and that you are floating now in a more positive direction. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security – there are rough waters ahead in the beginning of February. But for now, perhaps we’ve all earned a little bit of a rest.

“Hard work should be rewarded by good food.”
― Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth

© 2018 April Elliott Kent
To learn more about this year’s eclipses and your birth chart,
order my exclusive eclipse report, Followed by a Moonshadow.
Includes three years of eclipses and 40+ pages –
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The post Highlights for Jan. 21-27, 2019 appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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he desire for self-expression is pretty high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You have to have an awful lot going right in your life before it occurs to you to want more fun. That said, even a life that offers a roof over your head, food to eat, and safety from imminent peril can be flat, gray, and filled with despair, if there is nothing to feed your creative spirit and no sense that your life has meaning.

This Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse is in Leo, which is called the sign of creativity; but that doesn’t tell the full story. It evokes visions of a child’s playroom, filled with bright plastic toys, or a crafts room with construction paper and Elmer’s glue. But Leo’s desire for creativity transcends the tools we use to summon it. Leo symbolizes pursuits that open the heart and make you feel completely alive, to the extent that you don’t even question whether you’re doing it well, just whether you’re doing it exactly as you like. That can be a challenge for adults, who have responsibilities and full schedules, and who lack a child’s luxurious surfeit of empty hours for seemingly idle pursuits.

But throwing yourself into a creative passion is worth the investment of time, because the benefits spill over into every part of your life, making everything—your job, your relationships—more distinctive and satisfying.

We all have something inside us that wants to be engaged and needs to be shared and noticed. It says, “This is what it’s like to be me. This is how I see the world.” That’s Leo’s destination, and practically any road can take us there. You may enjoy quilting, or cooking, or designing video games; you may be called to play softball, mandolin, or Lady Macbeth. You might even write essays and publish them on the internet. You’ll know the right tools for you when you find you can’t stop fiddling with them long enough to make yourself get a decent night’s sleep… when they keep you awake like a big, golden, Leo Full Moon.

Remember how wonderful it felt, as a kid, to play? After school, on weekends, over long, languid summers, the kids I grew up with spent countless hours goofing off. We rode bikes, invented games with friends, formed garage bands, read books, swam at the community pool. Eventually you’d get bored, but if you were even modestly resourceful and imaginative there was always something new to try. I always felt that boredom was my creativity’s best friend.

In my memory, at least, my childhood self felt that way on a daily basis. As an adult, I can go days, maybe a week or more, without experiencing that feeling as I live my perfectly lovely life by rote. It’s far too easy to cook the same meals, take walks that cover the same territory, and watch too much Netflix as a substitute for creating stories of my own.

I think a lot of the reason people spend hours watching TV, playing video games, or reading social media feeds instead of pursuing their passions is that they feel exhausted, and these activities require nothing from them. The thought of committing more time to creative engagement can feel like one more box that needs to be checked off at the end of a long, tiring day.

This Full Moon, in the first degree of the sign, brings the last in a series of eclipses in Leo that began back in early 2017. Eclipses reflect points of change and crisis, and push us into situations that effect that change – in Leo, the crisis is around how to feel more engaged with your life. How to love, create, and inhabit it fiercely and fully. As this cycle of Leo/Aquarius eclipses comes to an end, I think we’re finally ready to change our lives to make room for more heart. I’m hearing this loud and clear from clients, and I’m feeling it myself. But the question is always, “How will I make time for it?”

Well, we always make time for what we really love. But we have to create a situation that lets creative passion find us. So try this: For one week, commit yourself to one half hour of boredom each day. Put yourself in a room with the tools of your creativity and nothing else. You don’t have to create anything—but no scrolling through social media or making telephone calls. Who knows; like a kid with too much time on her hand during summer vacation, you might decide to relieve your boredom by picking up a pen, a paintbrush, or a guitar.

We’re all busy people. But we’re so much more than that. And while it can seem daunting to carve out enough space in your life to really give yourself over to a creative pastime, in the end the tools matter very little anyway. The key is to master the tools just enough that they cease to be relevant–except as the conduit for expressing your unique, individual spirit.

© 2016-2019 April Elliott Kent
To learn more about this year’s eclipses and your birth chart,
order my exclusive eclipse report, Followed by a Moonshadow.
Includes three years of eclipses and 40+ pages –
only $35 delivered by email! Details and ordering info here »

The post Leo Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse: The Gift of Boredom appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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A true and honest plan Dates and times are given for U.S. Pacific Time zone. Click them to see the date and time where you are.
Freedom from desire

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have this theory that everything and everyone has someone who is designed to love them. Just look at the things that people collect: thimbles, matchbooks, refrigerator magnets. There are folks who love cars, quilts, cats, guitars, Fiesta ware, old vinyl albums, flamingos, mushrooms, and circus posters. I watched a great documentary about a typewriter shop in Berkeley, and marveled at the loving artisans who so love typewriters that when a parts manufacturer went out of business, they began fashioning replacements by hand.

Venus is the planetary ruler of two signs, Taurus and Libra, so it has dominion over money and relationships. But they’re united by a single principle: pleasure. Venus describes those things that give us pleasure, the things we are designed to love.

As it transits, Venus might lead you to fairly transient whims of desire. For instance, it enters Sagittarius this week (Jan. 7, 3:19 am), and for the next month or so Sagittarius things will probably look pretty good to us. We’ll want to look at books or hang out in World Market or haunt discount travel websites. Anything that’s novel, foreign, different, or that opens up a different world of ideas is ruled by Sagittarius.

But transiting Venus’ sign can also describe our attitude toward money, relationships, or physical possessions. Above all, Sagittarius values freedom. Venus in this sign is interested in money mostly as a way of securing more freedom, and it’s generally not much interested in possessions. So if part of your plan for the new year involves cleaning out your closets and streamlining your financial obligations, you are absolutely on the right track.

“Even the most beautiful scenery is no longer assured of our love after we have lived in it for three months, and some distant coast attracts our avarice: possessions are generally diminished by possession.” ― Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Performance evaluation

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he Sun, like Venus, takes about a year to make its planetary rounds. Once each year it meets up with each planet by conjunction, rather like a boss giving managers their performance evaluations. Like most of us, I imagine the Sun kind of dreads sitting down with Pluto (Jan. 11, 3:36 am). The problem is that Pluto wants to turn the tables and start evaluating the Sun, and the boss didn’t get to be the boss by sitting around taking lip from his outer planets. So it’s a tense couple of days when the two sit down together. What it means for us, their earthly representatives, is a couple of days (let’s say the 10th and 11th) when we’re apt to be pretty merciless in our self-assessments. I mean, that’s fine as far as it goes; it’s important to set high standards for oneself, to delve deep and rip out habits, tendencies, and attitudes that are unworthy of us. But don’t get carried away with the self-flagellation. Take a good look at yourself, then stow it away in your mental archives.

Then, as Mercury makes a conjunction with Saturn (Jan. 13, 5:31 am), you’ll be set to draft a fresh plan for the year ahead. Mercury and Saturn in Capricorn enjoy making lists, plans, and strategies, and they’re good at it. So pull out your calendars and planners and all those delicious little colored markers, and outline your plan for the coming year. Now that you know what’s working and what isn’t, what’s essential to you and what can be done without, your plan will be based on what’s true and honest about you, and on your real passions.

“Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. ”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay

What it means

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lso on the 13th (at 12:58 pm), Jupiter and Neptune form the first of three exact squares they’ll make throughout this year. Jupiter represents what we believe, what we feel that we know; but Neptune symbolizes our faith in those things we can’t be certain of. What they have in common, at least, is the idea that there does exist, somewhere, an answer to the question, “What does it all mean?” But while Jupiter believes it knows the answer, Neptune knows it never will.

Likewise, those of us with Jupiter strong in our charts by sign, close to an angle, or connected to the Sun or Moon are usually pretty sure about the world, ourselves, and what’s right and wrong. But the Neptunians among us are not so sure. Jupiterians tend to be pretty happy, but they run the risk of becoming complacent and intellectually arrogant. Neptune’s children are fluid, empathetic, but uncertain. If Neptune is involved in a lot of difficult aspects in the birth chart, we often find lots of self-doubt and nameless fears.

This series of three conjunctions (the other two are June 16 and September 21) pits the two gods against each other. Ideally, the result of their conflict will be more open-mindedness for Jupiter, and more confidence and certainty for Neptune. Jupiter must learn from Neptune’s example of humility, and Neptune will look to Jupiter for help in facing our fears – so we can eventually free ourselves of them.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ― Marie Curie

© 2019 April Elliott Kent

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The post Highlights for Jan. 6-13, 2019 appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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People who say “Yes” are such a joy. Invite them to tag along on a trip to the grocery store, attend a party, go see a movie, and the answer is always a cheerful “Yes!” As a dyed-in-the-wool “no” person, I’m deeply impressed by this life-affirming attitude.

Jupiter, the solar system’s “Yes” man, is in Sagittarius this year, making him a “Hell yes!” man. This morning, listening to a couple of podcasters discuss Shonda Rhimes’ delightful memoir The Year of Yes inspired me to embrace Jupiter’s message more fully this year. But then I remembered Danny Wallace’s 2006 memoir Yes Man, which documented the author’s vow to say yes to absolutely everything for one year, which he had occasion to regret.

Which brings us to this New Moon/Solar Eclipse (Jan. 5, 2019, 5:28 pm Pacific), featuring the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Saturn, and Pluto all clustered together in Capricorn. Like a crabby Greek chorus, half the solar system is shouting out a resounding “NO!”

Is that any way to greet the new year?

This first Solar Eclipse of the year insists, in no uncertain terms, that we let go of NO.

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mean, it’s the way I greet many new years—but don’t go by me. In this case, the New Moon/Eclipse point and Pluto are very close to the Moon’s South Node, which suggests that in fact, hopping on team YES—or at least, team “Maybe”—is the right idea this year.

The lunar nodes mark the points where the Moon’s orbit around the earth overlaps with the earth’s orbit around the Sun, like a couple of intersecting cosmic hoola hoops. Their 18-year cycle through the zodiac takes them in a backward trajectory, changing to a new pair of signs about every 18 months. Astrologers view the South Node as symbolizing everything from a karmic release valve to the very bowels of hell. In my opinion, as the South Node moves through a sign of the zodiac we’re challenged to incorporate its teachings without overstaying our welcome. We can always draw from its wisdom, but at some point we have to leave the nest and fly.

This year’s assignment is to pry our fingers away from Capricorn/Saturn/Pluto safety blankets such as boundaries, limitations, fear, externalized authority, and the need to feel in control. This first Solar Eclipse of the year insists, in no uncertain terms, that we let go of NO.

As the South Node moves through a sign of the zodiac we’re challenged to incorporate its teachings without overstaying our welcome. We can always draw from its wisdom, but at some point we have to leave the nest and fly.

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ut this is the scary, unknowable beginning of a process that will unfold over the next year and a half. So let’s begin by appreciating what those boundaries, limitations, and lessons about authority and power brought us during the past nine years, since Pluto was conjoined the Moon’s North Node.

The North Node symbolizes the brass ring that leads us toward our wildest dreams—but if the Lord of the Rings taught us anything, it’s that the quest for a ring requires courage. Nine years ago, we set out to author the next chapter of our own story and draw a realistically ambitious blueprint of the future. On the way, we embarked on a quest, confronted our scariest inner demons, made connections with allies, remade our daily lives, and threw ourselves into a personal creative vision.

And now, it’s nine years and 180 degrees later. Look back to July 2009 and January 2011, when eclipses near the same point as this one (15 deg. Capricorn) formed at the Moon’s North Node. What we reached for then became our life rafts, cobbled together with ingenuity and resourcefulness. That little craft has served us well, but if we want to move forward, we have to let it go and trust that there’s a bigger ship waiting for us to climb aboard.

As the Lunar Nodes moved into Cancer and Capricorn (Nov. 6, 2018), they immediately formed an itchy aspect to Uranus, the planet of change. Lately, as I wash the dishes, give the cat her shots, do my work, that old life raft is feeling very claustrophobic. I’ve realized many goals in the past nine years, but I’m noticing too much repetition and habitual grouchiness in my daily life. I’m practically aching for a big, happy, life-affirming YES!

YES can become as much of a habit as NO, and there are times when NO is the better response.

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aybe you are, too. But here’s the caveat: Jupiter, happy in his own sign, is hollering an indiscriminate YES to everything and everybody. But remember, the Lunar Nodes move backward—and the South Node that’s now in Capricorn will reach Sagittarius in about a year and a half. YES can become as much of a habit as NO, and there are times when NO is the better response. This year may be dedicated to releasing our dependence on NO, but the time to embrace it will follow soon enough.

And so it goes. In the end, life is cyclical, and there’s no single, appropriate, binary response to life. The Lunar Nodes tick through the zodiac in pairs of opposing signs, reminding us that balance is the optimal goal. So if you tend to say NO too much, try saying YES more this year. If your indiscriminate use of YES keeps getting you in over your head, throw a little bit of NO into the mix.

You’re ready for a bigger ship, a broader horizon; just watch your step in beginning, so you don’t fall overboard. Maybe just for a little while, come in out of the cold, where you’ve been rowing hard, all alone, for a long time. Sit by the fire with loved ones and rest a little bit. You’ve come a long way, and now is the time to figure out the next chapter of your story—to figure out when to say “yes,” when to say “no,” and when it’s best to just say “maybe.”

©2019 April Elliott Kent
To help you prepare for 2019…

The post Capricorn Solar Eclipse: The Year of Maybe appeared first on Big Sky Astrology with April Kent.

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