Growing up, growing old: Saturn’s Return

“My Saturn return is killing me!”

Many of my twenty-something clients book their first astrology reading with a version of this mournful cry. Invariably, it turns out they are not only not in their Saturn return, but are months or years away from its start date. I stopped being surprised by this a long time ago. The stress, anxiety and (often) attitude-created misery seem to be hallmark of the pre-Saturn return period. Throw in the progressed lunar return at age 27, and the late twenties can be really tough.

For those uninitiated to the cult of Saturn return paranoia, or new to astrological cycles, the Saturn return is the period when Saturn’s 29.5 year orbit carries the planet around to the exact degree where it was at your birth. Depending on the speed Saturn is moving and the timing of retrogrades, the first exact return can occur anywhere between ages 28 and 31.* Later returns occur around ages 59 and 88, and have their own, more mature themes. (More on these in a second.)

Saturn is the planet of maturity, responsibility, commitment and duty. Saturn is not, if you’ll excuse the arbitrary gendering, a wild and crazy guy. Saturn’s idea of a good time is treating himself to a sheet of Star Trek stamps in order to mail in an early tax return.IMG_20180901_081747_106

If Saturn is calling the shots in your birth chart (in the 1st or 10th house, lots of planets in Capricorn, conjunct the sun, etc.) you might spend, or have spent, your twenties sacrificing fun for your obligations or ambitions. Your friends might think you have it together and your parents might be endlessly proud, but all that overachievement takes its toll. Your inner world may be airless or so tense that any tiny mistake is an all-hands-on-deck catastrophe. Being a Saturn-y twentysomething can make you hard to be around – especially for yourself. Then, the Saturn return will be a breaking point, when you question what you worked so very hard for.

Marriages can fall apart, careers can be abandoned as worn-out responsibilities fail to offer opportunities to mature. As difficult as it is to let go, the Saturn return marks a chance to define your life on your own terms. Resilience takes the place of fear, helping the Saturnian perfectionist understand that true authority comes not from earning straight A’s but from what you learn from those F’s

Most people (the ‘normal’, non-Saturnians), spend their twenties either screwing around or waiting for the real grown-ups to tell them what to do.

In cultures and families where getting married and having kids at seventeen is the norm, the young parents’ life decisions are shaped by the expectations and authority of the older generations. In wealthier, more modernized settings, the twenties can be a time of experimentation. Jobs, relationships and identities are tried on and traded out, and there’s often a sense of searching for the right path, the right city, the calling that will make our lives take shape.

What all these versions of twenties-ness have in common, is that we are depending on external structures—rules, traditions, parental expectations (and sometimes financial support) or our rebellion against all of the above—to define what can and can’t be achieved, what paths will or won’t be followed.IMG_20181104_112728117 (1)

As we move through our twenties and transiting Saturn closes the distance to our natal Saturn, we feel pressure. The scolding voices in our heads, and those of friends, family, teachers, doctors, cops and all other authority figures, are chattering about the benchmarks we should be reaching and are failing to reach.

Career ambitions – and frustrations – are common, anxieties about money and debt and, for many women, the ever-present question of “so where are those babies at?” The punk rock among us and the lifestyle pleasure-seekers can find our friends dispersing, or turning unrecognizable – becoming people who only want to talk about their jobs, kids or causes. There is no one left to play with, or at any rate, no one our own age. Or the friends are there, but when they show up, it is, in a hard to put your finger way, just not the same. The impromptu dance parties, the spur-of-the-moment makeouts, the random drugs, the late-night, long-distance, soul-baring chats – all of it can feel a little empty. And in a way, the social experience is empty. Our attention has turned inward, to a quiet and private place, and the outside world has become (for the moment) distraction. Noise. Our growing is happening elsewhere. At least for now, our friends can’t keep us company.

The Saturn return is the climax of the twenties’ pressure, but also its release.

Around the 30th birthday, Saturn plods in to hand over adulthood’s reins.The return, approximately 10-months long, is a period of self-questioning and getting real with what we want in life. And what is possible for us. All our choices up to this point come up for review. We accept what we cannot change. That’s not easy but Saturn has gifted us with patience. We can sit with our questions and wait until the decisions come clear.

Sometimes this can be a pessimistic period (Saturn only drinks from half-empty glasses). Even if you’re not indecisive by nature, a heavy Saturn transit like the return can produce teeth-gritting ambivalence and a questioning of all past decisions. But by the end of the 10-month Saturn return transit, we can accept the consequences of our choices and define for ourselves what should come next. The harvest of the Saturn return work is a willingness (as much as our personalities will allow) to buckle down and get ‘er done.

It’s not so much that the pressure is off. It’s that we understand that being a grown-up is mostly a matter of crossing items off a list. Tedious, maybe, but manageable. And therefore, for most of us, a relief.

The later Saturn returns also mark stages of development.

The second Saturn return, like the first, is a time to get realistic and make some tough decisions. Typically, people go through divorces, retirements, career changes, realize their kids have grown up, deal with age-related health issues or find they have to figure out money for their old age.

Even so, the second Saturn return tends to feel like a relief, a time of necessary endings. The end of the scrambling of adulthood, and welcome entry into elder status, which often just looks like a more secure and stable sense of self.

The third Saturn return, if you live to see it, is time to look back on life, appreciate what you’ve accomplished and reckon with the places you missed the mark or came up short of your own standards.IMG_20181013_114041_089

You can have a seriously screwed up Saturn return. It’s also possible to hate Saturn’s fun-suck-y visits, no matter how old you get.

(Depending on where the other planets are in relation to your natal chart, your Saturn return could coincide with another, messier transit, like one from Uranus, Neptune, or the planet of death and transformation, Pluto. In that case, Saturn will have to share the spotlight with a more powerful transit’s fireworks show.)

Deeply compassionate and interdependent types may have trouble reckoning with the self-sufficiency and solitude Saturn requires. The Saturn return, unfortunately, is not a time when others are likely to hold you up or give back the support you’ve given. One thing that helps, if you’re process-oriented, more spiritual than material, and would rather see life as a river than a series of hurdles, is to focus on what you are learning. For watery and Neptonian people (the opposite of the Saturnian perfectionist), a great gift of the Saturn return is a chance to re-see our childhood from your parents (and parental figures’) perspective. Coming into adulthood ourselves can mean greater empathy for the limitations of our adults. It turns out being grown doesn’t mean we have it together.

Other Saturn-ruled problems, like going to prison or getting sick, may have been barely or not at all within our power to prevent. In these situations, the Saturn return can be a bitter pill, seeming to take away our youth in one blow. How we mature under such difficult conditions may be more than anything a matter of attitude and outlook. Saturn is all about personal agency. That’s tough when it seems like life hasn’t given us a choice. But in every situation in which we find ourselves, we do have choices. Maybe not the ones we want, but they are there.

Ultimately, the Saturn return is about accepting the limitations life has given you and choosing how you want to behave within them.

Claiming that limited agency, that realistic amount of choice, is what adulthood, for better or worse, is all about.

In letting go of our illusions and more extreme fantasies, we gain the comfort of having our feet on solid ground. Things may not be as magical as we had hoped but neither are they as overwhelming as we feared. Saturn says, we can handle this and, amazingly, we do. We move forward into our thirties with clearer vision and greater patience, ready to meet life where it’s at.

*Some astrologers measure a transit’s beginning as the moment the transiting planet enters a sign. Using this method, someone who is 27 might consider themselves to be experiencing their Saturn return. I do not use this method because I find it too general (a Pluto transit by this kind of calculation could last for 30 years! Yikes!) and not especially accurate (if you were born with Saturn at zero degrees Aquarius, you can bet you’ll start feeling those heavy, serious Saturn return vibes while the planet is still in late Capricorn). That’s just me. Before a 27-year-old decides he MUST be in his Saturn return, though, I strongly encourage him to learn about the progressed lunar return, a similar, but way more emo, cycle that occurs at 27, 54, etc.

All images by the author.

Find out what Saturn is trying to teach you in a Depth reading with yours truly. 

The 7th House: Your mirror self

The 7th house in astrology is often called the house of relationship, but should probably be called the house of projection.

Or, my preferred technical term, the house of ‘it’s not me, it’s you.’

The 7th house represents all kinds of one-on-one relationships. Spouses, besties, project collaborators and close parent relationships all show up here. Even your worst enemy is a 7th house partner, someone who’s teamed up with you to reflect back all the qualities of yourself you most dislike.

Look how unhappy these ducks are together.

Some astrologers read the 7th house as belonging to those key people who move through your life, like a view you’re passively watching go by. Under this way of reading the chart, astrological events in your 7th house only happen to you by virtue of your relationship to that other person. Transiting Saturn moving through your 7th house might indicate your best friend is going through a rough time and that, while that stress affects you, you have little control over whether your friend stops talking to you as a result.

That perspective ignores that these sorts of relationships are not events; they are processes that depend on our voluntary participation. We make relationships start by paying attention to the other person, and keep them going by participating. We giggle at the joke of the guy who comes into our work to buy a coke and we end up in a multi-year, gif-sharing friendship. We keep the fires of hatred burning with our neighbor by assuming she left her stinking garbage out just to ruin your day.

Your 7th house can explain why you’ve dated so many space cadets who won’t wash their dishes, or why you choose the kind of friends who ghost when crisis hits.

Look close enough at your 7th house and you may discover that the space cadet and ghoster are exaggerated parts of your own secret desire to chill and be free.

At its most troublesome, the 7th house, and its front door, the descendant, can be a fun house mirror of our shadow-selves. At its best, the 7th shows a side of ourselves we express readily and comfortably on a one-on-one level.

The descendant lies exactly opposite its more famous twin, the ascendant, or rising. (To find your descendant sign, look across a zodiac wheel from your rising sign.) Where the rising sign represents the stuff we strut, the descendant’s sign is the stuff we disown, those traits we consider alien to our natures. But we’re wrong, in the extreme. Our descendant belongs to us as much as our ascendant does. (As enough relationship experience will eventually teach us.)

Pickle, unaware of her projections, as per ushe.

A Libra rising person, for instance, feels expected to be nice. It comes naturally to him to look to other’s comfort first, and to seek out buddies to handle life’s anxious challenges. He believes the rude, self-centeredness – and bravery – of his Aries descendant have nothing to do with him. At least he believes that when he’s a teenager and young adult. But as anyone who’s been tight with a ‘nice’ guy knows, his anger has to escape somewhere. Usually, it will land on whoever’s closest.

The descendant is a pretty good description of who we’re attracted to.

That Libra rising guy will be drawn to versions of his Aries descendant: girlfriends who box, boyfriends with megaphones, ambitious types, selfish and maybe violent ones, firebrands and friends and partners who get him into trouble.

By teaming up with an opinionated, bossy Arian, rational Libra rising finds himself in situations he’d otherwise hesitate or compromise himself safely away from. Following the lead of his Arian collaborators, Libra rising leaps off cliffs, plays chicken, goes to protests and gets arrested, and is thrilled (or scared, or dismayed) to discover this new side of himself.

By hanging out with selfish jerks (the worst exaggeration of Aries energy), Libra rising is forced to fight back. Libra rising can make selfish demands, yell, and still feel like ‘the nice one’ compared to a loud and aggro partner. His 7thhouse girlfriend may the only one who notices that actually nice Libra rising can be kind of an asshole.

Relationships get easier when we recognize ourselves in the 7th house mirror’s reflection.

Once Libra rising sees his capacity for selfishness and anger– as well as his own courage and sexual interests– he won’t need partners to force him into huge fights. The guy who talks over him on their first date will seem less sexy and smart, and more like a jerk. And the guy who texts him back to see how he’s feeling will seem less like a pushover and more like potential boyfriend material.

We’re attracted to our descendant (and the qualities of planets in our 7th house) for a good reason.

We need relationships to hold up a mirror to our (full) selves. The bossy Leo rising person will always most easily be her chill, laid back Aquarian self when she’s around her best friends. It’s when those relationships get hairy that it’s helpful to understand which of the relationship’s baggage really does belong to you.

Get a peek into your 7th house in a mini Love reading with yours truly.

Jupiter into Sagittarius: Finding the hope

Since last October, the planet of faith, truth-telling and savior complexes has been traveling through Scorpio, sign of paranoia, secrets and power trips.

Aided by Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, Jupiter has pulled the veil off large-scale sex abuses, inspiring survivors to tell their stories. But planets don’t have political agendas. Those of us who have celebrated the #metoo movement and a newfound Jupiterian hope in sexual justice have also watched abusers get brazen and gain in power.

In our personal lives, Jupiter can bestow gifts, show us how to grow or expand existing problems and pains. As Jupiter has moved through the Scorpio-containing house(s) in your natal chart, you’ve ideally been: learning about where you keep unnecessary secrets; freeing yourself from shame, jealousy and possessiveness; and forgiving (by which I mean, letting the hurt someone did be their burden, not yours). Themes of the involved houses will also have come up.

Meanwhile, Scorpios have been encouraged to be bigger, louder, prouder and flaunt that Scorpionic mystique.IMG_20181104_113018_451

On November 8th, Jupiter enters Sagittarius, the sign it rules. It will stay there for a year and change.

Like any party animal on its home turf, Jupiter in Sag will pump up the volume, tapping the keg far past its neighbors’ bedtimes. We may see renewed faith and hope; the belief that we’re all in this together; energy to fight for what’s right; a bright and glow-y sense of meaning; a bond with human beings all around the world.

This is beautiful year for enjoying connection to a religious, cultural, academic or political community. It’s also time to get perspective, set your sights on a far horizon and draw inspiration for challenges ahead.

On the down side, Jupiter is not a great listener (<– understatement). In Sagittarius, the sign of always being right, it gets even harder to hear opposing opinions. It seems inevitable that this year will bring increasing political divisions and more violence in the name of political conviction.

Elsewhere in the sky, Saturn continues its march through Capricorn for a January 2020 meetup with Pluto.

Saturn, planet of rules and structures, is also at home–in the sign of hierarchies. Pluto signifies difficult transformation and pure, amoral power. When the two patriarchal archetypes meet, we’ll likely see a doubling down of existing power structures or deep and lasting structural changes that those in power try strongly to resist.

Planets in Capricorn aren’t especially subtle. It takes them to build momentum but their trajectory tends to be clear. Meaning, the conflicts of the moment aren’t going away. As many activists and thinkers have been pointing out, these conflicts, and the inequities that underlie them, are old. The planets are just letting us know it’s time to face them. And act.

Jupiter in Sagittarius, at its best, can help our species find its way forward.IMG_20181012_101134_793.jpg

To learn how this Jupiter transit will affect you personally, look for the sign of Sagittarius in your natal chart.

This is where Jupiter will be waking up your adventurous side, encouraging travel, education, teaching and publishing.

Jupiter also has to do with privilege and the resources we take for granted. In Sagittarius, it’s time to look around at what you have access to, whether it comes through bosses, institutions, friends, or funnels your way through society itself. What opportunities are out there? Which ones can you spread around and share with others? Which offer you the chance to learn? Which ones crack your heart open wider, letting in more world, more people, more light?

Not every Jupiter gift is worthwhile, but in Sagittarius you might be inclined to say yes anyway. Aim for what fills you and pass on what simply puffs up your ego. A reality check—is this sustainable? Do I have time? Is there decent evidence that it will pan out?—is a good idea too.

But Jupiter isn’t all sunshine, social justice and pots of gold.

The planet of MORE MORE MORE can awaken dissatisfaction and entitlement. We want to grow, but there isn’t space. We champ for our own freedom but trample others’. We expect rewards that aren’t realistic. We want a sense of purpose, so we jump on our soapbox. We want life to be a party, so we fill it with booze. IMG_20181010_145312_142

Being disappointed sucks. But even then, Jupiter holds out hope. Consider the multicultural parables in which a broke young man leaves home to find a hidden treasure, only to learn after a lot of bummers that the treasure was a metaphor for the good stuff right under his nose.

It’s a cliche, and, in my opinion, an annoying one, to say ‘be grateful for what you have.’ There’s a lot of pain in real life. Riches, literal and metaphorical, are unequally distributed. We can’t break free from that Saturnian reality.

But no matter what shit life throws, we can always learn. Whether or not we succeed, we can always seek connection. We can dare a little more. Crack ourselves open a tiny bit wider.

Jupiter in Sagittarius reminds us that the treasure is the journey itself. This strange, difficult, interesting, sometimes scary, sometimes joyful thing of being alive. In the end, it is the most we are given. And maybe, just maybe, it is enough.

Images by the author.

You can learn what Jupiter is awakening in your chart and map out your adventures for the coming year in an Integral reading with yours truly.

Venus retrograde 2018 – Niceness Vs. Realness

Ah, Libra season! Time of tasteful outfits and fair solutions, pleasant birthday parties and sweet friend dates. So relaxing. So sensible. So chill.

NOT. Not this year anyway.

Libra’s ruling planet, Venus, will be retrograde from Oct. 6th -Nov. 18th. In fact, we have been in the pre-shadow (fade-in) period since early September, meaning it’s already tilting balanced Libra to uncomfortable extremes. Relationships are likely to get sticky over the next couple of months and if there’s one thing that challenges Libra’s peaceful nature, it’s sticky, gooey, ugly human interactions.

Everyone and their brother wants to talk about Mercury retrograde, but Venus rx gets left in the dust! What gives?

Our Venus-neglect may have something to do with the fact that Venus doesn’t turn retrograde that often. (Also, it’s named after a goddess, and we know how they get the short end of the stick.) Only once every year and a half or so does Venus appear to drag itself backward through the starry sky.

If you follow astrology though, you probably have noticed that the rarer a transit is, the bigger its effect. So Venus rx’s relative infrequency is enough to demand our attention. On top of that,  a Venus cycle—the time between it traveling retrograde in the same sign—last for 8 whole years!

Each Venus retrograde period kicks off an 8-year process of learning about what we value, how we relate to others and how/whether we let ourselves take pleasure in our bodies.IMG_20180923_105704176.jpg

Guess what: you already love Venus. Specifically, you love your Venus.

Venus’ placement at the moment of your birth describes what you enjoy, the qualities in others that inspire your sympathy, what beauty means to you, how you relate, how you spend money and treat material possessions and what you recognize as love.

Your Venus has a lot to say about whether you’re the marrying type, if you’re an emotional free agent or if your most beloved relationships are to a circle of friends. At bottom, everything about your Venus points back to your personal values. What do you value in people? In daily life? In yourself?

Ideally, Venus smooths out life’s bumps, especially in social situations.

It reminds us to be kind—and nudges us to check our teeth for stray spinach. It says, Why fight when you can compromise? It’s the sense many of us have that two is stronger than one.

But despite being the planet of balance, Venus can get out of whack. It’s not a pretty sight.

Feminism has long recognized Venusian imbalance in the form of, say, girls being taught to smile at catcalls or to ‘be nice’ to creepy Uncle Joe. Likewise, the unhappy couple that hopes a wedding will bring them together have invested too much in Venus’ promise. Anytime we substitute making nice for a needed confrontation, commit dangerous levels of shopping therapy, act nice to score points, manipulate or ignore a difficult truth to protect our popularity, we are trading our deep Venusian happiness for a superficial Venus peace.

It would better for everyone at times like this if Venus really did run amuck. At least with a mess, we know we have to deal with the problem.

Venus Rx is the rare time when our collective Venus coping mechanisms break down.

For a month-ish (40 days, if you’re counting), relationships, money issues and fashion decisions get messy enough to inspire us to break out the sponge, the mop, the hazmat suit and do some deep and necessary beautification.

Over the next month and a half, a very messy Venus will be helping you turn frogs into princesses (or vice versa, for batrachophiles and princessphobes). Performing this magic act at home is as simple as asking yourself two questions:

1)     What does love mean to me? How do I practice love in my daily life?

2)     Do I value myself? What do I do to demonstrate this—to myself and others?

3)     Do I value my relationships? What actions can I take to support them?


Venus will start its retrograde period in intense, real and moody Scorpio (Oct. 6-31), before moving into rational Libra (Nov. 1-17).

We may all find ourselves impatient with the superficial, especially during the Venus in Scorpio weeks. Once Venus enters Libra, there’s a greater chance that we’ll want to fake it and phone it in. Both signs, though, express a craving for love and togetherness, to the point that it’s easy to lose perspective.

Self-loving alone time may be called for, especially at first, but remember you can nourish self-love around others too. If you live a very solitary life, Venus retrograde could be a time to reconnect, to offer support, schedule deep-dive friend dates, do a platonic massage trade and otherwise remind yourself that it feels good to be a human with other humans.

The general wisdom is to avoid major purchases, drastic makeovers and starting new relationships while Venus is traveling retrograde. But, as with all generalizations, these can be wrong–for you.

You might break a streak of self-isolation and meet your new best friend this month. You might decide to live year-round in your Halloween costume and be a million times happier dressed as a goblin. Who knows?

Instead of being rule-obsessed (not Venus’ thing!), notice where your motivations come from. Are you forcing yourself to go on Tindr even though you feel crappy afterwards? Are you blowing your paycheck on healing crystals because you feel anxious? When we try to ‘solve’ feelings with actions, we make bad decisions and probably won’t be happy with the long-term results.  And that’s a generalization I can stand by!

A quick and dirty way to see what this Venus Rx will awake in your chart is to look in your crystal ball (or scroll back through your email) to October-November of 2010, the beginning of our current Venus cycle.

Events that happened then may be getting processed now, and you may find yourself in a similar mood.

The early Scorpio-late Libra houses of your chart will show which parts of your life will be activated by this transit. For instance, if you have 10 degrees of Scorpio, the beginning of the retrograde, in your 6th house of work and ritual, you might find interactions with customers especially draining. Should 25 degrees Libra, the finish line of Venus’ journey, fall into your 1st house, you might decide to give yourself a professional makeover and end up frowning in the mirror at your soullessly shiny hair. (No offense to shiny hair!) The lingering question: who did you make this change for?

Fortunately, hair grows. It can even recurl itself overnight. The point isn’t to do your life Venus-perfect, it’s to stay present. If you learn something about yourself and those you love along the way, well, that’s gravy.

Images by the author.

Your Venus holds the secret to a kinder and more loving life. To find out what Venus is whispering and other, right-on-time messages from the planets, book a Depth reading with yours truly.  

Saturn, Mars & your career make headway (finally)

Happy Virgo—I mean, Labor—Day!

It is a happy astrological time indeed, for the work-lovers among us. For everyone else, the planets are primed to help us get more purpose and satisfaction from our careers.

As a Capricorn star-translator, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer a little aid toward this end. Hence, I am doing AMAZING LABOR MONTH CAREER MINI-READINGS for $20 a pop. (Apologies to all the leisure lovers for stealing the end of September from Libra. Even astrologers can’t always stay on schedule.) Deets below.IMG_20180822_152400791.jpg Your career, according to astrology

In astrology-ese, ‘career’ means something bigger and cooler than what you do to pay your bills. Really, I’m talking about vocation.

Word nerd interjection: vocation comes from the Latin vocare, meaning to call. Vocation in the natal chart, as represented by your midheaven (MC), is what the world is calling on you to contribute.

A midheaven in Scorpio person is being ‘asked’ by her life’s limitations, opportunities and even specific authority figures to contribute her Scorpionic psychological and financial acumen and her access to what society deems as taboo. MC in Scorpio fields include psychotherapy, sex and gender studies, banking, criminal investigation, funeral services and sex work. Because Scorpio represents the taboo, some Scorpio MC people get fired for knowing unpopular truths or make their money in secretive ways. (Blackmail, anyone?)

In other words, intense Scorpio makes for an intense professional life for those who have it on their midheaven. That’s true, even if you are otherwise a super chill Aquarius or pragmatic Virgo.

The Midheaven is astrology’s way of saying that who we are professionally is different from our day-to-day self. To make it on a career level, we need to pursue skills and experiences that support our public identity, even if we haven’t yet figured out who that other self is.

Mars and Saturn, our guides in the sky

Mars and Saturn are traditionally known as the ‘malefics’ aka bad guys. While these two planets do rule some unpopular things (e.g. rust, stab wounds and taxes) they are also our guides in the sky for planning and pursuing careers.

Transiting Saturn’s 29-year cycle maps out the stages of our professional goals and public success. Saturn tells us when to keep our nose to the grindstone versus when home and family should be our highest priorities. When listening to Saturn, we’re really tuning into our inner sense of right timing. We see results from our efforts and, even nicer, we can see that our complete confusion about how to make money is right on schedule.

Mars, by contrast, moves speedily, circling the natal chart in 2 years. Its short transits offer useful information about where our energy will be most effectively used during a given month.IMG_20180822_152313142.jpg

Mars and Saturn plow ahead in Capricorn

This summer saw a double-whammy Mars-Saturn retrograde, which meant, for a lot of us, constant bumps in the road. Plan-making and acting on plans was tricky during Mars’ retrograde June 26th-August 27th. New projects resisted getting off the ground and energy may have flagged exactly when it was most needed.

Saturn, which spends over a third of the year appearing to move backwards, has been retrograde since April 17th, 2018. While Saturn is retrograde, those of us experiencing major Saturn transits have found ourselves saying ‘no’, cutting back and saying goodbye to relationships, projects, passions and places that no longer fit. Saturn is the planet of hard decisions and while it’s moving retrograde, we can find the part of our lives Saturn is affecting feeling pretty barren.

On September 6th, Saturn squeaks, pivots and finally turns direct, signaling a readiness to begin building again. Through September 10th, Mars and Saturn are cohabitating in Capricorn. Both planets work well in the sign of plans and structures. Mars in Capricorn lends our actions extra patience and follow-through. Saturn in Capricorn eliminates the dysfunctional and commits to what will show results in the long run. Meanwhile, the Sun is Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept 22) is passionate about our daily rhythms and rituals, especially those of our work life.

The bottom line? With effort, this is an excellent time for job starts, changes, decisions, and committing to ambitious yet practical goals.

Super amazing labor month career readings

During the month of September, I am offering $20/20 minute career readings for new AND return clients. Get a quickie overview of your overall vocation (the fields where you’ll have the most success and satisfaction), best practices for handling money and achieving long-term goals, and precisely where you are in you are in your 29-year career cycle.

All this in 20 minutes? Good thing I talk fast!

Book your reading here.

Making lemonade from Mercury Retrograde’s lemon

*Begin manly movie trailer voice*

In a world…where bosses forget to send emails…where text messages never arrive…where computers crash for no apparant reason…and vacation plans change AT THE LAST MINUTE…it’s happening again. Mercury Retrograde: She’s Baaaack!

Some of you may be already dreading the Merc rx, others rolling your eyes, but how many of you are looking forward to it?

In my opinion: not nearly enough!

Yes, Mercury retrograde can be a pain in the butt. Yes, it can also pass unnoticed (especially if you’re someone who doesn’t sweat the small stuff, or at least is chill about running late, delayed packages, etc).

As a fast-moving inner planet, transiting Mercury’s influence on us is mild, compared to powerful slowpokes, like Saturn and Pluto. But that mild impact can be incredibly helpful if you know how to use it.

Elephant ottomans do not sweat the small stuff. They basically never check their email anyway.
Mercury direct isn’t the hero we’ve been led to believe…

Mercury rules thoughts, talk, writing and transportation, as well as the little moving parts of everyday life. When it’s traveling direct (astrologically speaking), life’s gears roll smoothly. We can multitask, remember our sister’s birthday, write down that great idea the instant we think of it and be on autopilot when trading instructions and reminders with our partners and coworkers. We hardly notice what we are doing; we don’t need to.

That sounds nice, but it can be pretty crappy.

While Mercury is direct, we assume too much, notice too little. Small neglects and resentments accumulate. We get by with website problems and car trouble, even though we may be hurting our Hyundai’s engine and losing business without knowing it. We think our way through emotional situations and erode our gut sense by ignoring it.

Thank goodness, then, that Mercury turns retrograde three times a year. From July 25th through August 17th (a bit during the weeks before and after), you can use Mercury retrograde’s mojo to fill your daily life with deeper feeling and greater presence.

Mercury rx loves weeding. As a socially acceptable form of murder, weeding is also a nice way to vent your frustration.
Mercury Retrograde, what is it good for? (Surprisingly, a lot!)
Here are a bunch of activities that work way better under Mercury Rx:
  • Listening to your intuition and getting in touch with your feelings. Your thoughts may be foggy or scattered but your body knows what’s up. Slow down enough to speak its language. What are those tight neck muscles communicating? Which people make your belly feel warm? When, in your day, do you laugh and when do you forget to breathe? Listen to the messages and when you feel calm, make decisions from them. Under Merc rx, bodily sensations and intuition are your most reliable data.
  • Revising, editing and problem-solving. The distractibility we tend to associate with Mercury rx comes from a heightened awareness of problems and flaws. We’re also more tuned in to possible solutions. Maybe your professional bio doesn’t represent your personality. Update it! Watch a youtube video and do that dishwasher fix yourself! Why bang your head in frustration trying to start a new project when the stars are so beautifully aligned for doing draft two on an old one?
  • Helping out & connecting. Under Merc rx–which brings out Mercury’s Virgo-like traits–small, productive acts can be deeply satisfying. And more so when others benefit. Strengthen a friendship by helping your bud talk through his break-up. Proofread your niece’s college applications. De-virus-ify your elderly neighbor’s computer. Teach an art workshop where there is nothing to get “right” and the only goal is to be present.

What all these activities have in common is that they rely on slowing down and being present with wherever you’re at. If you let go of some of your most urgent “shoulds”, you might even find you like Mercury better this way.

Dying to get some perspective on your crazy life in a one-on-one Depth reading? This week is your last chance…until September, that is. I’m away from the internet all of August, but I still have a few openings between now and July 31st. Book yours here.

Cancer is not your mommy, it’s more like having the dog run to yourself

Images are either by the author or by Migueltzinta Solis

 It’s July, the most outdoorsy time of year in the northern hemisphere, and season of Cancer, the sign famous for hiding out in its house. Funny, because Cancer—sign of the mother-child bond, emotions and things that grow—is actually very connected to nature. Unlike indoorsy Libra, which finds nature just a lot of work or Aquarius, which gets bored when away from its channels of information, Cancer’s issue with the outdoors isn’t the poison ivy, or the weak data signal—it’s the people. Overwhelming, demanding, difficult people who insist in gathering in the sunlight and making noise and generally distracting the Cancerian from her own important inner rhythms. (And rushing the Cancerian. There is nothing worse for Cancer than being rushed.)36564978_10213878438607382_1933694559850594304_n.jpg


I live in an old mining town that is far from anyone’s definition of pretty. The downtown buildings are low-slung, sixties functional architecture, in a malaise-inducing spectrum of brown to gray to sooty beige. We’re in the prairies, which means a subtly varied landscape (squint or you’ll miss it), prone to fire and dust.

Last summer, drought turned the wide, flat fields to tinder. In fall, the tinder caught a spark or several. Wildfires blackened the subdivisions’ borders and left the air clogged with ash. In winter, brutal chinook winds and cold temperatures stripped the last of the plant life leaving behind bare dirt and stubby grass.

There is one part of town, though, that’s undeniably gorgeous: the dog run. The dog run lies a block from my house. It is a long, circuit trail within the wild prairie of the coulees, a rolling river valley that resembles folded burlap. But pretty. Really, really pretty.

Today is the end of the Canada Day holiday weekend. Never one for holidays in general, and too new to Canada to remember what celebratory event is happening when, I keep ending up at abandoned intersections and on empty downtown streets, wondering where the town residents have gone. This morning, it was drizzly–it’s been wetter this summer–and the dog park was deserted. Pickle (a Pisces), delighted at having the place to herself, bounded neck-deep into the long, wet grass.36555238_10213878436647333_5022006809972441088_n

Pickle can be iffy around other dogs. She’s always curious about what they are up to and will charge ahead to greet them. She likes checking out a new butt and having a 30-second romp, but prefers her dog love to be the unrequited variety. If too much of her interest is returned, she comes to cling by my side, turning back only to bark out her displeasure.

In the empty dog run, though, Pickle could enjoy the best of both worlds: all the dog smells with none of the overwhelming socializing. Taking her sweet time to sniff the pee-soaked wildflowers, Pickle dawdled behind, until she was just a black and white speck on the horizon. Noticing my absence, she raced to catch up.  With ears pinned back and a dopey, dog grin, she wagged her tail and then immediately ducked away into the grass to be alone again. In the deserted dog run, Pickle was content among the bobbing purple flowers and waving grasses to think her solitary doggy thoughts and feel her solo doggy feels, and make private discoveries that, even if she became possessed of human speech, I am confident she’d have feel no inclination to explain.


One thing I’ve learned from my astrology clients is that few Cancerians consider themselves mommy types. Cancer suns often don’t see themselves as wildly emotional (Cancer moons and rising sign people seem to experience more frequent ups and downs) and object to the idea that they expect others to meet their needs.36486289_10213878426207072_6274186078236704768_n

I blame pop culture, who else. (Darn you, internet!) Pop culture likes simple explanations, and what could be simpler than dubbing Cancers either mommies or man babies? But people are complex animals (unlike my beloved dope, Pickle, who at this moment is exerting 150% of her brain power to remember where she left the ball she was chewing on a few minutes ago), and the Cancer stereotype just doesn’t jibe with the Cancer experience.


Lately, I’ve been thinking of Cancer as keepers of an inner garden; after watching Pickle amuse herself today, I think I should update that to keeper of a quiet, inner dog run. What grows in that dog run are emotions that change with the weather and shift in the breeze.

Cancer is needs- and nurturing-oriented. But those needs belong to the inner child and the nurturing, most often, is directed within. Emotional wholeness is within reach for Cancerians. Creativity and empathy are natural expressions of this emotional centeredness, as is the acceptance of one’s own messiness.


For the next few weeks, we could all stand to take a page from Pickle. Cancer season is for moseying through those tall grasses, taking time to ferret out all the interesting inner smells. The seeds dispersed by past seasons’ fires and winds have taken root and grown into our inner dog run’s lush landscape. Weeds mingle with flowers; pee is as interesting and worthwhile a scent as the rich, earthy damp of recent rain. 36492952_10213878439127395_1506950947237003264_n.jpg

*Note: this post was partly inspired by an interview I did with Refinery29’s Sara Coughlin. She wanted to know whether the “maternal” image of Cancer was correct. Some of what I told her made it into the final piece, but some didn’t. This is a bit of filling in the blanks and fleshing out the picture.

Want to get in touch with your own inner dog run? Book a Depth reading! we’ll talk about all the feelings, and how to parent yourself with more kindness (and, perhaps, better boundaries).

Ditch the FOMO, love the drama: Venus-Mars romance

IMG_20180523_053230_504.jpg This post originally appeared on Little Red Tarot.

A while back, I was talking to an adored friend about her latest round of love drama. Another long-distance romance that was fun for six months, then fizzled.

“Why can’t I have a good relationship?” she said. So of course, we looked at her chart.

When I put in her birth info, I took in the most basic astrological picture of what she’s looking for in relationships (Venus in Sag, in the 3rd house, opposite Mars in the 9th).  At a glance, that’s a description of someone who’s intensely passionate in short-term affairs (maybe a few at the same time) and then moves on.

She didn’t have a strong contact between Saturn and Venus or the moon (or Saturn in one of the love houses), which would have suggested a combined fear of and craving for deeper intimacy and connection. A Saturn presence would have shown that she might, ultimately, want a long-term relationship enough to do the work. It would also show an appreciation for the boring parts of a relationship–a relief, rather than irritation, in looking at the same face, smelling the same body every day.

My friend’s chart, on the other hand, seemed to say that short and intense romances were her pleasure and her ultimate pursuit. I was suddenly confused about why she considered that six month relationship such a failure.

“Wait,” I asked my friend, “What counts as ‘good’ relationship? Like, does it need to last for some amount of time to count as good? Are you looking for an LTR, like a life partner thing?”

My friend made a no-way face. “I just want it to last as long as we’re both having a good time.” She finally admitted that her recent relationship might have been good, but she wasn’t really sure. “I guess I’m just going through a long dry spell,” she said. “I really need to have sex.” I asked how long it had been. “Three weeks,” she said in the same tone most people use to say three hundred billion years.IMG_20180524_162310_670.jpgRomantic FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) happens to the best of us, but shows up with a vengeance to people with hard Venus-Mars aspects, challenged Leo energy, and Aquarius and 11th house south nodes. (To keep it simple, I’m only going to talk about Venus-Mars aspects.)

When Venus and Mars form a square, opposition or even a conjunction in the natal chart, they are constantly coaxing (Venus) and jostling (Mars) each other, trying to get their very different needs met at the same time.

Venus wants to bond with another soul, but Mars wants it NOW and FAST. Mars wants to get laid, but Venus needs to be in love. Venus wants the connection to be easy, but Mars wants a challenge. With the opposition especially, there’s a powerful attraction to contrasts of masculinity and femininity, a la butch-femme relationships or Hollywood romances.

These aspects are the signature of love affairs, flings and love at first sight. Cheating (or being cheated on) is an obvious way for Mars-Venus to get their needs met, since it can turn any sweet little romance into a strategic, Martian challenge. Making art and fighting for justice (and feminism) are another manifestation. Telenovelas and my most despised film (don’t @ me), Love Actually, are all exaggerations of Martian-Venusian romance, ending in the grand finale of a glorious wedding.

Sidenote: There’s a good reason romances stop before the marriage starts. Marriage – and any long-term commitment – is Saturn’s domain. Saturn (aka commitment) does not inherently have anything to do with love, not unless your personal chart makes the connection between those two areas.


Venus-Mars people (almost always) need romantic passion. Three weeks without sex or sweet love-nothings feels like a death sentence to my friend, though other ‘friends’ (ahem, not me!) have gone years without either at various points and did not die, even if they might have wanted to occasionally. Still others go lifetimes without sex or romance and don’t miss it.

Needing romantic passion is one thing. Buying into the FOMO is another.

Mars-Venus people, like anyone, can create their own hell by believing there’s another relationship story they should be living.

Whether it’s a fantasy of marriage as a 30-year first date or a more nebulous sense that your friends are somehow happier in their relationships, it’s worth taking a closer look at what actually suits you. The on-again, off-again ups and downs of a typical Venus-Mars love life might be the mad heat that keeps you toasty. The urge to measure yourself against others – to compete, Martian style, with your friends’ relationships – is an unnecessary form of self-torture.

Instead, consider the possibility that your love life might be fine as it is, in its many vivid colors, in its wild shifts from melancholy to joy, from union to separation and back again.

What are your Mars and Venus trying to tell you? Book a one-on-one Love reading with yours truly to learn what kind of human(s) make your heart swell, and the best strategies for making a love life that suits you.

Put down that sword, baby: (Queer) love on the planet Mars

This post originally appeared on Little Red Tarot.

Mars – the principle of anger and selfishness – is not an easy planet.

In classical and predictive astrology, the war-god planet is known as the lesser malefic (i.e. the villain, Saturn’s, mini-sidekick) for its association with conflict and difficult events. Outside of astrology-land, Martian behaviors, like grabbing the last piece of cake for yourself, are often considered antisocial (especially for women); kids who display strong Martian traits, like a constant need for activity or frequent use of the word NO, can end up with a long list of diagnoses and medications.

Mars isn’t bad, though.luke&amp;i hike &amp; tmdmm3 013

Human beings and our relationships need Mars to be healthy. The Martian urges to disregard instructions and go your own way, to start fights, to go faster, do more and to win, can sustain a racial justice movement, help a gender-bending kid survive elementary school, and give a sweet dreamer the nerve to make works of art that touch fellow sweet dreamers around the world.

The trouble with Mars – and with Mars, there’s always a little trouble – is knowing when to stop. And when to start.

Let’s say you’re a righteous activist battling in the streets, courtrooms, and on social media. Is it safe to put down your sword down at the dinner table? When your new crush says something that doesn’t sit right with you, do you crush them back?

Or, you’re that gender-bending kid who survived by not giving a fuck what anyone thought. Now you’re grown and want to thrive. You get that relationships require you to give a fuck (otherwise why bother?), but how can you tell when it’s safe to listen? When your sweetie says she’s kind of uncomfortable with non-monogamy, do you assume she just doesn’t get it? Do you start checking out right then? An overzealous Mars would say yes.

Here’s the thing: our relationships need Mars.

Queer culture gets this. For a lot of us homos, finding queer culture meant our first time being encouraged to embrace the Martian side of relationships: independence and saying no, following your lusty Mars turn-ons, prioritizing yourself (and/or the Fight). Anyone who’s dealt with co-dependency or disentangled themselves from a toxic relationship has probably written a thank you card to Mars. Mars shows up in small, almost unnoticeable ways too, like the correction to a lover who’s jamming on your clit like it’s a joy-button, or the decision not to hang out with your boo’s drunk, aggro co-workers, because, lesbehonest, they kinda suck.virgencarni 006Weirdly, it’s possible to overdo your Mars in big ways and neglect the essential, daily assertive gestures (like those above) that allow us to enjoy love and be fully present. To compromise, to let another person unguardedly in, requires trusting that your Mars – that beautiful instinct for self-preservation – will look out for you when you need it.

The problem with being a fighter is that a lot us learned to reach first for that bone-slicing sword. We had to. Our childhoods or families were battlefields. Or someone stole something from inside of us, and we couldn’t risk it happening again.

In the natal chart, Mars wears the evidence of that early fight in aspects to one of the outer planets (especially Pluto and Saturn) or by its house position (the 1st shows a natural fighter; in the 8th and 12th, Mars goes to extremes). Likewise, a strong Aries emphasis, or an Arian south node (SN in the 1st, in Aries or in hard aspect to Mars).

In peacetime, though, swords are kind of overkill (excuse the pun!). To create and nurture relationships that are interdependent, give yourself lots and lots and lots of practice with Mars’ peacetime toolkit.oax12 009
Here are some of the best:

Say, I want
And follow it with exactly what you actually do want: no editing, no censoring. You’re also not allowed to rationalize your desire with political analysis or reasons that you getting what you want will benefit others. Mars people who fight on behalf of causes can have serious trouble with this one, either not being able to define personal wants or ashamed of the selfishness it implies. A healthy perspective shift is redefining I want as a form of taking responsibility for yourself (which means your sweetie doesn’t have to).

I want is powerful exactly because it makes you accountable. If the other person gives you what you want, the ball is in your court; and if you’re not happy with the results, you’ll have reckon with yourself.

If you hate working out as much as I do, or if your body is as prone to injury, pain and ailment as mine, you may already be shaking your head. Mars represents anger but, importantly, it also signifies all forms of physical activity. Challenging physical exercise gives your Mars an outlet (fewer blow-ups) and has the added bonus of building Martian self-trust (yay less fear!). Pain or disability can make it harder to be consistent with a Mars routine, and you may not be able to do as much as you want – but be real with yourself about what’s a realistic limitation versus a fear-based excuse. Start small and do what you can.

Compete against yourself
Mars wants to win. When you have a strong Mars, you are your most worthy competitor. Distract your Mars from unhappy-making pursuits (like flirting hard with your BFF’s monogs sweetie), with fun and meaningful challenges. Take risks regularly, especially emotional ones. Go rock-climbing, write and star in a one-person musical, open up about something you’re ashamed of, ask questions instead of arguing when you feel defensive, launch a website for your dream business. Face a fear and make it contest. Dare yourself to try, and then try to win (according to standards you set yourself). For the prize, you receive clarity of self that makes it way easier to love another.

Book a one-on-one Depth reading with yours truly to learn the outlets for your Martian energy that suit your temperament and personal style.

All images copyright Migueltzinta Solis.

June 2018 Horoscope

IMG_20180508_103934_489Transit details for astro nerds at bottom.

Thanks to a very active Venus and Mars, relationships—romances, friendships and even close bonds with a sibling or parent—are front and center this month. Specifically, the ever-relevant question: Is that shit yours or mine?

Money management will be a special challenge all month, as the influences have us wanting to either impulse spend or hoard. Either extreme is likely triggered by fear, anger, frustration or anxiety, and seriously, do you want those ne’er-do-wells in charge of your debit card?

Art-making and the deep experiencing of art are the one “easy” area this month. And by “easy” I mean gratifying, productive and not likely to screw up your life. Watch or make movies, read or write an epic poem or two, or decoupage your kitchen walls, and give all the riled-up Martian energy a Venusian outlet.

We start the month in heady, social Gemini, and under that busy sign’s rays, we may find it difficult to leave well enough alone.

The week of June 3rd, a tangle of worst fear-sparking transits will make it easy to slide into paranoia and its personal assistant, manipulation. Communicative Mercury is caught in Neptune’s fog, causing important details to get lost in translation. Lying or getting lied to is possible here, but you’re more likely to confuse an honest misunderstanding with intentional deception.

There may well be useful gut sense-slash-intuition coming to you this week but be patient with drawing conclusions. The reality is probably a lot better (or at least less scary) than you think.

Financial terrors are also likely this week, but have you done the math to show those fears are valid? Avoiding handling the details (or trying to handle too many at once) because you’re worried only increases worry.

Best bet: A fulfilling and comforting alone time activity, preferably spiritual, psychological or artistic in nature. Especially good: music-making, meditation or going deep within to understand your fears around love.

The week of June 10th is passionate with a side of wait-you’re-doing-what-now??

If you have any planets or points in the first few degrees of Taurus, Scorpio, Leo or Aquarius, you’ll be prone to sudden 180s and dramatic new tastes in clothing, crushes, friends and sensory pleasures. All of us, regardless of our natal chart positions, will be a bit restless in our relationships, wanting a wild, new beauty to explode into our lives (whether that’s an unattainable new crush or a vivid art or business idea).

The extreme and disruptive urge to change something now! can be positively expressed just by hanging out with someone outside your usual friend type or introducing an exciting—and slightly daring—new activity (couples’ lion-taming lessons, anyone?) into a relationship that’s gotten too indoorsy of late. Or you might be due for a good fight.

A good fight is on schedule for the week of June 17th.

The sun enters moody, needs-centered Cancer just as a passionate collision of Venus and Mars occurs (June 21st). When Venus, the planet of love, cooperation and reason, makes a hard contact to Mars, the planet of lust, selfishness and action, we get the kind of blow-outs that lead to make-up sex or tearful pledges to always have each other’s backs.

The conversations that dysfunctioned two weeks ago can be had now much more effectively, as we all have access to real insight, truthfulness and sensitivity if we choose to be honest. For conflict-phobes, a reminder that Mars’ assertiveness (and the conflict it brings) helps keep Venusian love fresh and keeps our relationships awake.

Our outlooks are more compassionate, imaginative and just this week. That Mars-Venus fighting energy can be effectively directed toward protest and fighting for Venusian fairness. (Art, again, loves these transits.)

The week of June 24th, Mars turns retrograde at 9 degrees Aquarius.

If you have planets or sensitive points in the early degrees of the fixed signs (Aqua, Taurus, Leo, Scorp) or last few degrees of the cardinals (Cap, Cancer, Aries, Libra), this is the beginning of a summer-long reassessment of your recent actions. How have you handled your angers and frustrations? Have you ignored what you wanted or shoved others aside to get your way? Mars retrograde slows us down—by lowering our energy and maybe even breaking our cars or other machines we rely on to get stuff done—so we can take notice what has worked (i.e. gotten us what we truly wanted) and what has blown up in our faces. Anything new you start (especially Martian things like businesses, sexual relationships, exercise goals and fights) might run off the rails due to low energy or poor planning. It’s frustrating when that happens but the most important thing is to learn from the frustration and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Everyone else will feel the Mars retro effect most strongly during this week (and again just before the planet turns direct in late August). Feeling tired or pent-up—like you’re being forcibly slowed down or kept from your goals—is normal. Put that frustrated energy into a satisfying solo activity—ideally one you’ve been working on for a while that might need to take a new direction.

Find out where this month’s transits will hit for you, and the bigger issues they are triggering in a one-on-one Depth reading (with yours truly!).

Week of June 3rd transits
Venus opposition Pluto – 20 degrees Cancer/Capricorn
Mercury conjunct Sun – 15 degrees Gemini
Mercury square Neptune – 16 deg. Gemini/Pisces
Sun square Neptune – 16 deg. Gemini/Pisces

Week of June 10th transits
Mercury enters Cancer
Venus enters Leo
Venus square Uranus – 1 degree Leo/Taurus

Week of June 17th transits
Mercury trine Jupiter – 13 degrees Cancer/Scorpio
Mercury trine Neptune – 16 degrees Cancer/Pisces
Venus opposition Mars – 9 degrees Leo/Aquarius

Week of June 21st transits
Full Moon conjunct Saturn – 6 degrees Capricorn & Cancer; 5 degrees Capricorn
Mars stations retrograde – 9 degrees Aquarius

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