08.12.12

some mysterious fractal

August 12, 2012 is when I finally made it to Florida to start grad school. It was on a Sunday. I was supposed to leave the day before, but the movers I hired were terrible and took too long. I guess I missed my flight? I couldn’t get a hold of any friends to crash with so I had to stay at this noisy airport hotel.

I had to stay with my cousin here for a couple of weeks because my stuff was being bounced around all over the east coast. Such a disreputable moving company.

I don’t even want to rehash all of that because it was horrible and I am tired of complaining about how horrible life has been down here. I think the horror magnifies with how hopeful I was to finally find my tribe, to make a real connection with a blood family member, to escape the cold and growing disappointments of Chicago.

Well, life had other plans for me.

It’s been very transformative spiritually. Going into year six of my life down here, I feel like I’ve unloaded a lot of emotional and spiritual baggage. I feel cleansed and unencumbered. But the journey to get to this very precious place has been very expensive: on my bank account, on my credit, on my body, on whatever I would call my social life.

Has it been worth it? I’m not entirely sure yet. This is a rather 7 of Pentacles moment right now. I’m looking at what I’ve grown so far and knowing there is more work to do.

Instead of regaling you with how shitty and disappointing and heartbreaking and humiliating and scary (and I’m pretty sure this blog has detailed a lot of that, so just peruse the archives for a good gasp, cry, or sigh), I’d rather just pivot from here and say that I’m done with this period of my life–or maybe my (very warranted) emotional response to it.

I’m not like Katrina and the Waves walking on sunshine yet, but I am tired of feeling like my life is one long, painful climb, even if that is the Capricorn way. Eventually, I want to be able to rest and enjoy the views up here…

 

The prolonged money and housing instability has been interesting to navigate as someone who is a Capricorn sun and rising with a Cancer moon. My sojourn in Florida has hit me where it hurts, over and over. That’s probably due to Pluto and his heavy demolition crew obliterating my 1st house of self, where my Capricorn sun and rising reside.

Who am I without a stellar reputation? Without stable housing? Without friends to lean on? Without a reliable stream of money?

What is my home? Who is my family?

I don’t really know what the answers to those rhetorical questions are. I believe I’m making it up as I go along–as we all do. I thought I knew those answers.

I didn’t realize how much I had relied on my plucky nature to get me out of jams, and how I have always had a strong community there for me to lift me up. Even with social media, I had both strong online and offline communities, where even both worlds would begin to meld. I met my last boyfriend in an MSN chat room and then we met in IRL–he lived in the same city and went to college with people I knew from my church.

It’s hard to have these stalwarts stripped away–sometimes very violently, and sometimes very slowly. But all the same, it’s left me very vulnerable and open–well, it’s easier to hear from Spirit in this way.

Looking back over these five years, I don’t have much gratitude for this stripping process yet. Still, because I want to change my attitude towards whatever has been unfolding in my life, I took myself out to dinner downtown.

As a sidenote, I do think it’s funny how some Americans will roll up into a nice restaurant and wear soccer jerseys or whatever else seems like casual attire.

My Cancer moon needed to be fed and nurtured. It felt so good to eat the (sometimes literal) fruits of my labor (I had a peach salad and a peach cobbler). As my current housing situation is driving me a lot batty,  it was also nice to not physically be here for three hours, to breathe healthier air in a different space, to not have the draining energy of this newest, inconsiderate boarder. I could at least afford to do this for myself, to celebrate my survival in a tough, unsympathetic state. That’s an accomplishment in it of itself.

But that’s the reframe right there: survival of losses, not just the losses. It’s what I’m good at. I do like to to triumph over circumstances. It may not be that I got to keep my car or my housing or my bank account at a consistent level. I have survived those losses. It seems right now the triumph is over death, over giving up, over having my spirit decimated.

I’m in a real spiritually desperate place right now. I am desperate for real, meaningful change; desperate to have Spirit move me–both literally and figuratively–to a place where I am nurtured and can be nurtured; to a place of deep fulfillment and appreciation; to a place where I can be fully myself again. I am desperate enough to not solely look to other people to help me. I am desperate enough to shut out the world and to look within for all the treasures that were hidden underneath all of the things I’ve lost. I am desperate enough to not look to myself first and then come to the end of myself–I want to look to Spirit first where there is no beginning and no end.

I’ll be going on a retreat this weekend and I hope that my desperation will be met with opportunities and answers and practical solutions, and maybe a little more patience and strength as I keep journeying from the “here” of discontent to the “there” of “finally!”

By the way, that’s a perpetual round trip we all make, from discontent to contentment.

As the solar eclipse comes closer, I know there’s more coming my way—actually good things, things I’ve been wanting for so long, like stability, like expansion, like love in all forms. Lately, it’s been wonderful to have things to look forward to, not just things to dread.

As I grow older and closer to the midpoint of my life, I feel the pressure of limited time and there’s so much I want to do with my life than just survive. I have to trust that all that I’ve gone through here was not in vain–that there’s a purpose that’s greater than my own soul growth and spiritual development, that the ripple effect will be wider than I will ever know.

It’s really easy to forget, that even within the chaos, there’s some order—even if we don’t understand it yet, like some mysterious fractal that begins to unfold.

I have to trust that this unfolding, albeit painful, is truly both beautiful and beneficial. Otherwise, my life has been utter madness without any method or reason. I’m not talented enough to invent reasons or methodology on my own.

So here I go, with another long trust fall with the Universe. Even as I squirm and question and fret, there’s still a knowing that I am following, that nothing is ever wasted, that at least some of this wild and wacky ride will make sense, soon.

lucy, desi, lucie, desi jr.

family is more than blood SOM

I recently wrote about my own family’s astrology, which really tripped me out because of how my brother and I were the solutions of what elements my parents lack (earth and water). I randomly stumbled upon Desi Arnaz’s natal chart because he and I have similar chart patterns (bowls above the horizon). I noticed that he and my mother have the same birthday.

I had read that Lucille Ball had noted that her marriage to Desi wasn’t anywhere near as pleasant as it was portrayed on the TV show, “I Love Lucy.” And then I saw that she was a Leo. It was like my parents, but reversed–including in age (Lucy is older than Desi).

Today is Lucy’s birthday. She would have been 106 years old if she were still living. She is a Leo like my father. What’s interesting about Lucy and Desi involves their moons and ascendant/rising signs. Desi has a Cancer moon and rising. Lucy has a Capricorn moon and rising. By degrees, both of those placements are in strong opposition.

Guess what their children’s sun signs are? Lucie Arnaz has a Cancer sun, Capricorn moon (hello full moon baby, like my brother), Leo rising. Desi Arnaz, Jr. has a Capricorn sun, Pisces moon, Aquarius rising.

I looked at their north nodes, which have a lot to do with fate.

  • Lucy’s north node is in Taurus.
  • Desi’s north node is in Capricorn.
  • Lucie’s north node is in Pisces.
  • Desi Jr.’s north node is in Aquarius.

And here are some interesting connections in their charts:

  • Lucie’s midheaven is in Taurus is conjunct, but not by degree, to her mother’s north node.
  • Lucie’s north node is conjunct to her dad’s sun.
  • Desi Jr.’s south node, in Leo, is conjunct his mother’s sun.
  • Desi Jr’s Mercury in Capricorn, is conjunct his father’s north node.

I didn’t want to start looking at what all these signs may mean about their relationships to each other, or their individual personality traits–that would take a lot of time and it’s not necessarily my focus of this post. I just thought it was so random to have a famous family have the same sun signs as my family, but all in different configurations.

The north node contacts make me think that although this marriage ended in divorce, there was a lot fated for this family to be together, to learn from each other.

Additionally, quincunx relationships, or relationships with signs five signs away (the angle is 150 degrees), can feel like fate. The Obamas are a classic example of how that can work, and work beautifully (Pres. Obama being a Leo, and the First Lady as a Capricorn). But it can take work. It can be really tough. I can only imagine what a Leo woman living with a Pisces man could feel like. Maybe those lunar and ascendant oppositions weren’t harmonious. I can tell you as someone who has that Capricorn-Cancer opposition, it’s a push-pull seesaw that can give me emotional motion sickness. It doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t find some spiritual Dramamine, or a way to keep my eye on the horizon. And that goes for relationships with people, too.

I don’t want to get too heavy into the synastry (relationship astrology), but it doesn’t seem that hot between Lucy and Desi, in retrospect. I don’t personally think any relationship is doomed because of synastry. It can be a good user’s manual for a relationship, or a post-mortem of why a relationship worked–or didn’t work.

If you didn’t get any of that somewhat technical astrology jargon, here is your TL;DR: you and your family, for better and for worse, are probably bound by fate in ways that you don’t even realize. Astrology is a way to explain those connections, to make sense of the randomness of the genetic lottery that we’re all a part of. Even when I felt like I never belonged with my family, I can see how I am inextricably tied to them, and them to me. Even if it’s not the happily ever after that I’ve fruitlessly sought, I know that our astrological aspects to each other, even just our sun signs, have taught me things about loving myself (Leo), the importance of family and close friends (Cancer), and spirituality (Pisces).

Even when things end, there’s still a lot of good left.

 

 

astrology & superstition

astrology SOM

As Mercury Retrograde’s shadow period continues to loom long, I have been thinking about the collective pop culture freakout that will happen next weekend when Mercury’s retrograde transit begins in earnest. It’s a little bit annoying since it seems to be the only time that people care about astrology. But my annoyance isn’t because I’m some rabid evangelist for astrology (although my close friends may disagree). Astrology is a paradigm that seems to work for me…for now.

Mercury Retrograde nowadays can feel like a silly superstition, like not walking under a ladder or owning a black cat. Superstitions have a way of becoming the scapegoat for all that goes wrong (or even right) in a person’s life.

I wonder where I start to feel like astrology is merely more information that I can use to lead my life in a better, more informed way instead of just an excuse for why things don’t go the way I want (or vice versa).

Currently, I’m having some problems in my bathroom. The toilet isn’t filling its tank very well. Usually, a toilet’s tank takes about a minute or less to fill. It’s taking 15 minutes now. And recently, there are some pipes screeching and banging behind my toilet when no one is using it.

My computer has given me a blue screen of death twice. It’s not old.

So what’s going on? It seems like things are just falling apart all at once.

With the toilet, this house is old. I have Uranus in my 4th house, which has to do with home life. Uranus is a bit of a wild card. It’s hard to know what will happen. It’s like a scary jack-in-the-box. I’m not a fan. I had my room flood during this Uranus transit, so the pipes are brand new. But, again: this house is old. I’m also getting a new toilet seat because I bet that toilet seat has never been replaced. It’s wooden and painted. The paint is chipped and stained. The seat itself is broken underneath. The seat will be replaced and the hissing fill will get fixed soon.

As for the computer, although it’s pretty speedy, it needs more RAM mainly because Google Chrome is a greedy little application. But, I’m not purchasing any new RAM until Mercury Retrograde is really over, meaning we’ve cleared the shadow period where Mercury makes it way back to the degree where it started its seemingly wayward course.

That’s the conventional wisdom of dealing with the trickster planet’s moonwalk in the stars: don’t buy any new technology. The reasoning is that if I buy something now, it may not work correctly and I will have to return it later, wasting both my time and my money.

Is that wisdom or superstition? Are these planetary and lunar transits more like weather reports? For example, it would be foolish to go out without an umbrella in Florida, especially in rainy. I’ve done it and it’s horrible–soaked to the bone, in denim.

There are other do’s and don’ts which all have to do with travel, communication, and technology:

  • If you have to travel, prepare for delays.
  • Back up your documents (to the cloud!).
  • Re-read your emails before your send them.
  • Make sure your car is running well.
  • Think twice if an old friend or ex re-enters your life.

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to buttress all this advice. It’s good advice no matter the transit or season. It just takes extra time. But then I also think about confirmation bias and the power of suggestion. Am I just more sensitive to these transits because I know about them, or do they explain phenomena that otherwise would have made no sense otherwise?

The way I see Mercury Retrograde, as well as all retrograde transits, is that they are times for review. We are eternal beings that live in a temporal world. Things break, fail, or become ruined. There’s not much in the world that will last–even relationships; even our bodies. We need to have time to repair and to release.

Mercury Retrograde can also be an invitation to rest, to slow down. Maybe in our fast-paced modern world, that invitation is more salient now that even 100 years ago. But in our speeding around to get things done, things get overlooked.

Mercury Retrograde can be a time of review. Are we being good stewards of the things we own? Are these things owning us? Maybe these exes or former friends that come out of the woodwork are a test to see if these relationships have really ended. Have we really moved on?

Sidenote: It seems a little unfair that Mercury Retrograde happens at key times during the academic year. Right now, many families are preparing for their children to return back to school and to college. Today is the last day of a tax-free weekend in Florida, so the stores may be crammed with people buying computers and other technological gadgets (as well as clothing and shoes). Other school preparations involve just getting there (with all the things that have been bought): traveling across the state or the country. The shadow period for Mercury Retrograde won’t end until most people are back in school, around mid-September.

The next Mercury Retrograde this year will happen in early December, with the shadow period beginning in mid-November and ending in mid-January 2018. What a crummy time to travel. That’s during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It’s also a crummy time to study and possibly have your computer’s hard drive fail as you are writing a final paper. That happened to me five years ago, during the final retrograde shadow period. I had an extended warranty and was able to get it replaced for free, but it was scary and inconvenient when it happened.

So what are you to do? You can’t just sit at home and avoid everything. That’s what I believe superstition does–imprisons and limits people. I believe astrology really tries not to do that, even if it there is discussion about seemingly limiting transits, like a Mercury Retrograde. It seems like astrology tries to empower and illuminate.

I’ve come to some rueful acceptance that I can’t catch all the “good” transits in the way that I want, especially the Venusian ones. But then again, all the “bad” ones don’t catch me, either. And that’s part of the mystery, of life. There’s so much interplay between the potential of the stars, my own free will, the Universe itself, and what others’ free wills…and maybe Fate with a capital F.

So with this Mercury Retrograde coming up, and with life–do the best you can in light of that old adage: “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” This transit isn’t a black cat crossing your path. It’s just a season of a different kind of awareness. There are plenty of astrologers who can help you out, too.

 

 

sad songs really say so much

sad songs SOM

As a Cancer moon, I have been noticing lately how I’ve gotten a little addicted to sad songs. I’m not too much into the “name it and claim it” crowd, since that is a crowd I have been desperately trying to get away from. But I do believe words have power (hello? I’m a writer). I didn’t want to start some incantation of listening to sad songs.

This same predilection for possibly enjoying the sadness probably started in grad school, which was really difficult for multiple reasons. I was writing about my past, dealing with rejection, and feeling altogether misunderstood. I started watching kdramas as a way to feel emotion about someone else’s deeply emotional stories. Now, I don’t feel like I have the emotional space to watch them.

Music has been slowly making its way back into my life, although not yet in the creative sense. I was feeling a little uninspired about what’s been out there. And, as Mercury Retrograde has been showing its shadow since last Monday, I’ve been in some major nostalgia. I was remember how Belle & Sebastian meant and maybe still means a lot to my ex’s best friend. That’s still unfortunately my first memory of the Scottish band, even though I liked them way before I had met the ex and his friend.

Enough about them, though. I have been addicted to the song, “Winterbreak” by MUNA, and it was really upsetting me how much I love it, especially the chorus.

Oh, baby I think we both know
This is a love that we won’t get right
Still if you said that you wanted
I know I’ll always have one more try

I’ll say this much: there’s a situation that I feel where these lyrics may be true. But I’m not sure if I’m just in love with the song, or am also in love with the lyrics of the song that seem to sing my heart’s confusion and angst. I do know it relates to how I see my mother.

But, as Elton John sings, these songs are doing something for me.

Turn ’em on, turn ’em on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on

They reach into your room, oh oh oh
Just feel their gentle touch (gentle touch)
When all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much

My fear of conjuring up the broken heart that hasn’t yet arrived may be premature. Yet, in a sense, as I wait for answers, my heart is already broken. Whatever was to take form as I wanted it to and when I wanted to has yet to be.

There’s a little sorrow when things don’t work out when and how you want them to. It doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. It may mean that I’ve been dodging my disappointment in a way that music is not allowing me to. It’s nudging me to be a little braver with my sadness, and maybe to usher in some healing, too.

Right now, my efforts in remaining positive feel like slowly deflating balloons.

Maybe it’s OK to let them pop completely…

Sometimes, there’s a little comfort and self-protection when you think the worst has come. At least you can plan for how you feel and how to move on. It seems a lot riskier to plan for joy, to plan for sunny days, for good weather.

What if you get caught in the rain of your disappointments?

This reminds me of a beautiful quote from Stephen Colbert.

Cynicism is not wisdom. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but cynicism is a self-imposed blindness. You put the blinders on yourself to protect yourself from a world that you think might hurt you or disappoint you. Be a fool. Believe things will be good. Better to be hurt.

How can I be more foolish? How can you?

In the meantime, as we gauge whether we should bring our sunglasses or our umbrellas, here’s a playlist of the songs I’ve been obsessed with. Some of these songs may not be really sad in the traditional sense, but I hope they bring you some comfort on some blissfully sad day.

the astrology of my family

family

The other day, a friend of mine called me an astrologer. I definitely don’t feel like one. I don’t feel like I know enough, especially compared to the astrologers I know, and of them, especially the ones who have been  certified through organizations like the International Society of Astrological Research. I have helped people understand their own natal charts and the natal charts of their children, but I like having some cred.

Whatever I am, an astrologer or just a very curious person, I thought I’d take a deep dive into astrology in this post. My website name is an astrological aspect (sun opposition moon, which means that there was a full moon at the time of my birth). I keep talking about sun signs (aka the sign you look up for your horoscope) in my posts as well. I’ve been in a horribly didactic mood lately, so I might as well go all in and talk about how astrology can help you understand your family.

Today is my brother’s birthday (June 28th). He’s two and a half years younger than me and is also a full moon baby (Cancer sun, Capricorn moon). I don’t know his birth time because I really just started getting into this and my mom is quite evangelical and thinks astrology is ridiculous. So I’m not asking her.

Let’s start with my planets first.

My planets

Sun: Capricorn

Moon: Cancer

Ascendant (or Rising): Capricorn

Mercury: Sagittarius (retrograde)

Venus:  Sagittarius

Mars: Leo (retrograde)

Jupiter: Cancer (retrograde)

Saturn: Virgo (retrograde)

My generational planets are Uranus in Scorpio, Neptune in Sagittarius, and Pluto in Libra. There’s some interesting things to talk about with both Uranus, as it transits to Taurus next year (it is opposite Scorpio), and Pluto, which is squaring, or at a 90 degree angle with the current transit of Pluto in Capricorn. It’s hard to say what is going on for us Gen Xers as Pluto is going through Capricorn. But I will definitely write about how Pluto in Capricorn is affecting me, doubly, in another post.

A few pointers:

  • Your ascendant or rising sign is the zodiac sign that was rising on the eastern horizon at the time you were born.
  • If you have a rising sign that is the same as your sun sign, you were probably born early in the morning (and I was).
  • Every sign has some element to it:
    • Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
    • Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
    • Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
    • Water: Cancer, Scorpio Pisces
  • Every sign also has another kind of quality called a quadruplicity–basically, how a sign functions within a season:
    • Cardinal: Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn–they start off seasons
    • Fixed: Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius–they keep the season going
    • Mutable: Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces–they close out the seasons
  • Every zodiac sign has a luminary or planet ruling it (I use the old school rulers).
    • Sun rules Leo
    • Moon rules Cancer
    • Mercury rules Gemini and Virgo
    • Venus rules Taurus and Libra
    • Mars rules Aries and Scorpio (Pluto is the modern ruler of Scorpio)
    • Jupiter rules Sagittarius and Pisces (Neptune is the modern ruler of Pisces)
    • Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius (Uranus is the modern ruler of Aquarius)

Still with me? All these groupings will impact personality and actions. You start combining these natal planets and put them into signs, and then put them into houses, and then put them at degrees 0 through 29, then you can get a real specific sense about a particular aspect about a person (e.g. I have Jupiter in Cancer at 0, retrograde, in the 7th house).

The planets also have their own personalities and like hanging out with some signs more than others. It seems like if you know some Greek and Roman mythology, some of this will make sense already.

All this information–and I haven’t even talked about what the houses do (which are ruled by both zodiac signs and planets)–is why I don’t feel like an astrologer. It’s a really vast subject. But all these signs and planets and how they relate to each other in transit and natally–they explain things like self-expression, communication styles,  and romance preferences.

So, by looking at how natal charts can interact with each other, you can also get a sense of how people can interact with each other, for better and for worse.

Back to my chart.

My chart has most of the planets “above the horizon”, in houses 7-12 (The natal chart starts at the 9 o’clock position and goes counterclockwise). So that means a public life. I’m pretty wide open about my life, to much distraction. My north node (who I am destined to be) is in Libra, and it’s somewhat conjunct (adjacent) to Pluto in Libra.

A little primer on retrograde planets

Retrograde means that a planet will look like it is orbiting backwards from our viewpoint on planet earth. How that affects us here is that we get to review certain things that are associated with that planet. Mercury retrograde, probably the most famous one, will deal with communication and travel. I was born under one, so it’s been said that for me, I will have an easier time communicating. It honestly all depends on what sign Mercury is in at the time and what house it falls in as it transits. Some retrogrades are easier to handle than others. Mercury retrograde is commonly felt because it’s the fastest planet.

Right now, both Saturn and Pluto are retrograde, and both planets are a lot smaller. What you end up seeing are events that play out on a larger, global scale, like trends in business, politics, fashion, etc. Unless you’re a Capricorn or Capricorn rising, or have some other personal planet in Capricorn, you’re not likely to personally feel this years-long transit.

I’ve heard it said that if you have many planets in retrograde (I have four), it’s the sign of a past life as well as some deep spirituality.

Based on these planets, maybe you could call me a volcano on an island? Fiery planets, some cozy watery placements in Cancer, and some earthy placements. You can see how I compare to the rest of my family.

My brother

My brother, M,  has a chart that is clustered mainly on the left-hand side, with the 12th and 1st houses holding the majority of his planets.

Sun: Cancer

Moon: Capricorn

Ascendant: Virgo

Mercury: Cancer (retrograde)

Venus: Gemini (retrograde)

Mars: Virgo

Jupiter: Virgo

Saturn: Virgo (I have this, too)

Since we’re both in that famous Gen-Xer/Millennial gap, he and I share the outer planets (Uranus in Scorpio, Neptune in Sagittarius, Pluto in Libra–he has all of these as retrograde!). But for this, it’s not really important. Those are generational planets and those are interesting to talk about with global events and how generational beliefs. That will be more relevant for my baby boomer parents.

So what’s interesting about my brother, besides the stellium (three or more planets in one sign) that my brother has in Virgo (in his first house), is that, beyond the astrology, my brother is developmentally delayed (DD). So much of astrology is about how we view ourselves, our self-concepts. I’m not sure how my brother views himself.

The Virgo stellium–I’m not sure what to say about it with the backdrop of DD except that my brother remembers details vividly and at times, even with his DD, he’s able to integrate those details–that’s what Virgo is about. When he was little, he was able to go get something my parents were talking about in another language–they didn’t ask him to do it, he just understood. His intelligence is just different, even though it’s poorly understood.

He’s definitely a Cancer–a very nurturing person who loves to give hugs. But he is quite temperamental. He’s been through a lot–we all have as a family.

I think if he ever was in a relationship (he sort of is?), all that Virgo along with his Cancer placements would make him a very nurturing person.

As you can see, he lacks fire and I lack air. My parents have both of those, but not that much of air. I’ll talk about how that impacted us later.

His north node is in Leo, which is my father’s sun sign. It’s interesting since that’s also a sign he’s probably already progressed into.

My father

Sun: Leo

Moon: Capricorn

Ascendant: Scorpio

Mercury: Leo (retrograde)

Venus: Cancer

Mars: Gemini

Jupiter: Virgo (my brother has this planet placement)

Saturn: Cancer

The generational planets are Uranus in Gemini, Neptune in Libra, and Pluto in Leo.

My dad’s north node is in Cancer which means his south node is in Capricorn. These nodes on the moon show where we have been (south node) and where we are going (north node). Even through my father’s degenerating mental health, I think he was better able to relate to me and my brother on a soul level.

That my brother and my father have north nodes in each other sun signs–my instinct is that they definitely needed each other, at this time, for soul growth. They have the tightest bond out of us four.

So you can see that my brother and dad share a Capricorn moon–it’s within a few degrees of each other, probably conjunct. Sharing a moon with someone makes it really easy to be friends. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why they also acted more like buddies than father and son. They also share the same Jupiter in Virgo.

My dad’s Mars being in Gemini–he definitely was a multi-tasker and had his hand in so many different projects. Could this be a foreshadowing of his bipolar disorder? I have no idea. I haven’t studied psychological astrology, at least not yet.

Both my dad and my brother are primarily ruled by the luminaries, the sun (which rules Leo) and the moon (which rules Cancer), as well as a bit of Mercury (which rules Gemini and Virgo).

I myself have a little bit of everything, but Jupiter (which rules Sagittarius) seems to be my ruler. First decan Capricorns (born within the first 10 degrees) are ruled by Jupiter, too.

Across all three of our charts, there is a lot of 11th house (ruled by Aquarius, which is traditionally ruled by Saturn) and 12th house (ruled by Pisces, which is traditionally ruled by Pisces) planets. My brother and I have personal planets in the 12th house, so it’s time to talk about our mother, who I am calling a fire fish (you’ll see why).

My mother

Sun: Pisces

Moon: Sagittarius

Ascendant: Gemini

Mercury: Aquarius (retrograde)

Venus: Aries

Mars: Leo (retrograde) (I have this planet placement)

Jupiter: Sagittarius

Saturn: Leo

Being baby boomers, she shares the same generational planets with my dad: Uranus in Gemini, Neptune in Libra, and Pluto in Leo, with the latter two in retrograde.

And now you can see why I call my mother a fire fish. I can see why my dad was attracted to her. Her Venus trines (60 degrees apart) his sun. A trine means the planets share elemental signs. In this case Venus in Aries (a cardinal fire sign) trines a Leo sun (a fixed fire sign). Her Mars is weakly conjuncts his sun. It’s a fiery, passionate connection, which was for them about evangelical/charismatic Christianity.

All About My Mother

So, what are the missing elements from my mother’s chart? Earth and water! What do the rest of us have in abundance? Earth and water! She basically gave birth to and married what she was lacking, especially with my brother.

Everyone else is much more airy (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) than me, but this lack of air created a very intellectual household. My parents are both very smart and our home had a library of books all over, in almost every room. Although I may not really relate to air signs, all of my family members have personal planets in air signs.

You would think that having a mom with a Pisces with a Sag moon that she has something for everyone. Well, not really. I really think my mother is ruled by her moon (emotional expression). Sags like freedom and expansion (Jupiter, its ruler, is an expansive planet–which can be good or bad).

I’m not saying that anyone with a Sag moon can’t have a family, but my gut says, even though I don’t know her birth time, that this moon would be more about exploring her horizons, meeting a lot of people, having fun outside the home.

And that’s what she does. She is actively involved in church (Jupiter and Sag love religion!) and really loves her friends and her family of origin.

Her north node is in Taurus, and I don’t really have much to say about that, although my Chiron and M’s Chiron is in Taurus. That is interesting to look at: pain. Chiron is the wounded healer. I definitely have a painful relationship with my mother and my brother’s relationship with her isn’t that great, either. His Chiron is conjunct her north node.

There’s so much more I could talk about when it comes to my family, but my mom’s Sag moon seems to be really the heart of my own issues with her. She’s a citizen of the world, and my serious relationships were with men who were just like that (neither of them live in the United States anymore). Knowing this makes it easier for me to accept her as she is and also sheds light on who I am attracted to–just her moon alone!

Neither my Mercury or Venus are close to her moon, but they are conjunct her Jupiter. I think both of those conjunctions is why we can do small talk really well, especially about religion and spirituality (this is in Sag).

The ultimate goal for me is to understand why my family connected and disconnected in the way that it did. Astrology is a tool that helps me to do that. For example, all of us have Mercury retrograde natally. Would that leave to communication breakdowns like we had? I’m not sure. Mercury is retrograde at least three times out of the year, for a few weeks at a time. But it is interesting see that my parents have fixed signs for Mercury and my brother and I have cardinal and mutable signs, respectively.

It can get even more involved if you look at transits during key times for families, as well as looking at synastry (how two people vibe or don’t vibe together). For example, I looked at a transit chart of when I was being dumped by my first boyfriend–there was a Sun-Pluto conjunction, which can be a very explosive time. It helped me understand how and why this happened–even if I could feel it come a few days before.

Astrology can go much further than your sun sign and its particular quirks. It can help you with your partnerships, business, friendships, and children for starters.

I spoke with my Mercury in Cancer brother for a few minutes on his birthday. He didn’t have much to say. He wanted to talk more about old friends of mine than about himself. Cancer and Virgo tend to be other-oriented signs, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. But it saddened me that the closeness we had as children has now disappeared behind a wall of loss and disconnection. All I can do is show up for him when I can.

 

an ode to OK Computer

thomas hardy

In the next World War
In a jackknifed juggernaut
I am born again

–lyrics from the song, “Airbag” by Radiohead

Those are the beginning lyrics of “Airbag,” the first song on the album that changed my life, OK Computer, Radiohead’s third album. It was released on June 16, 1997 (it’s a Gemini!). The 20th anniversary re-issue, OKNOTOK, was released on June 22nd (it’s a Cancer–how nostalgic!), so a few days ago.

I thought I was going to go on and on about this album–and maybe I still will. 1997 was the first year of college for me, after waiting a year to go to college. The TL;DR version of that gap year is that my father was suffering from paranoid delusions about financial aid forms so I waited and prayed and then, miraculously, he changed his mind. It was a year marked with depression and weight loss and anger and sorrow. I somehow hadn’t heard of this album yet, though, even though I was ardently listening to alternative radio. But this is not a radio friendly album.

How I heard about OK Computer was when I went to college in Chicago. One of my fellow dormmates, Anne, a tall, kinda wild girl from D.C., loaned me the album. And this being 1997, this is the time of cassette tapes still, so I recorded the album onto a cassette. OK Computer was a part of my freshman year soundtrack.

As a musician, I wasn’t really listening to the lyrics of paranoia and alienation. But I was really relating to these themes, especially alienation, on a soul level. There was at least someone else in the world who could see that the world was kinda fucked up and wasn’t afraid to talk about it.

Speaking of kinda fucked up and alienation on a soul level–that was me, in college. Although I had some altogether sane, healthy relationships, I did have a kinda fucked up best friendship with this kid from New York–I’d venture to say it was probably my first real relationship with a guy, even though it was 99% platonic. It’s taken so many years for me to really see this relationship for what it was–I had idealized and idolized it so much, because this atheist dude had rocked my little evangelical world.

Still, we were both probably fucked up on depression and brutally took it out on each other (IMO, him more than me). But hey, I made the Dean’s List that year, all while I was sleeping my way through it (according to my first year roommate).

But OK Computer wasn’t necessarily about all of that for me, the glories and the horrors of dealing with clinical depression in college while my family was being eaten alive by my father’s bipolar disorder and subsequent incarceration. It was really about a sonic escape. It was so future-forward and prescient–the same issues and fears about technology that Yorke beautifully sings about are ones we’re currently battling right now. It was also a really good read on what was going on in our society at the time.  It’s funny, too, because the late 90s had all this hope for the future–except Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”–I’m posting the video here because it was so innovative at the time:

Maybe the Brits knew something that we Yanks didn’t?

From that album on, I was a devoted Radiohead fan. I have seen them twice in concert–once in downtown Chicago and once in Wisconsin. Both times involved me being super hot and possibly dehydrated, being outdoors, with friends, being young. Twenty years later, Radiohead is all married with kids–and I’m in some weird life holding pattern. They were in their mid-20s in the late 90s. I just feel old typing about it.

With it being Cancer season, it’s easy for me to get lost in these large, warm waves of nostalgia, which now push me on the shores of late 2000, after I was out of college because my parents couldn’t pay my tuition and I think my father was in prison at this point.

I was at this church that was probably the closest thing to a real, ideal Christian community of my own imagination–full of art, music, and people on the fringes of society (OK, in retrospect, most of these folks are middle-class white folks, but their aesthetic was mine at the time–wearing thrift store clothing and retro sneakers, listening to 7″ vinyl aka hipsterish).

And there was a boy, a guitarist and photographer, J–either a Virgo or a Libra, and I can’t remember because we didn’t stay together long enough for us for me to remember his birthday. He was a couple of years older than me, this tall, slim kid from outside of Detroit. Just like the church, he was the closest thing to the real, ideal man of my own imagination. Even though there are so many details that I can’t remember as to why I felt like he was a paragon partner, but there was telepathy, there was real feeling, there was real love, however brief and intense, and there was Radiohead.

This guy was proto-hipster, listening to so much vinyl, listening to stuff from the 70s, and he felt our musical tastes only connected on major streets, like Milwaukee and North Ave and Damen. I still liked Creed at the time, unabashedly.

We had our favorite OK Computer songs, “Let Down” (mine) and “No Surprises” (his). He dubbed so many albums for me on cassette with his almost graffiti tag-like handwriting, including a mixtape that was definitely devoted to me. I still have it somewhere…It’s how I got into Slowdive.

One evening, he came over to my apartment and we were watching the documentary based on the tour for OK Computer, Meeting People Is Easy. We sat next to each other on the couch, and I was trying to watch the TV. I don’t know how far into the documentary we got–not very, maybe like 30 minutes in, but eventually he was staring at me with his wide blue eyes, eyes that seemed to take so much of the world in…

He said something like, “I’m a little too distracted to watch this.”  If he is a Libra, then he said it that seductive, Libra way that makes it hard to resist, that made it all about me.

Incredibly flattered (shit, I’m still flattered that I can be a distraction), I gave him a sidelong look back with a smile and walked him back to my bedroom.

My memory gets hazy here, because this may have been the night he told me he loved me. Let’s pretend it is, because he wasn’t over much. I came to his place more often.

I had leftover Christmas lights from college, multi-colored ones. Those were the only ones on, and they were strewn on my desk. It left my small bedroom with a full-sized bed–my first real mattress that I had bought months earlier–awash in a warm, pinked light. We were lying on my bed and I don’t remember how love came up.

“I love you,” he said.

“I love you wholly,” I replied (yes, I was trying to one-up him, or at least be like–yeah yeah, I believe this, for real).

It had only been a week together, and then three weeks later, we broke up, on that same bed. He told me that being with me was like being on drugs. Again, I am flattered, but this is part of the reason we broke up. He didn’t think we didn’t had enough in common.

His BFF actually called me later to tell me that he thinks he was scared. I think he also wanted to affirmed that whatever had happened was real. that we weren’t on drugs. There were so many people rooting for us…

I tried to get him back once, in a letter where I only remember typing “Perfect love casts out fear.” He responded that he was “cold and locked up inside.” I wrote my first real poem after that.

“…and I am locked up right there with him…”

Shortly after our breakup, but before 9/11, weary of living in the land of  Pres. W., he left for Brazil to probably be a permanent ex-pat. A friend of mine, half-jokingly, said that he probably left the country because of me. We only got back in touch one or two other times via email some time later.

Maybe now we could be friends, but I can only imagine, after how many hims and mes that we’ve become and thrown away–would we even recognize who we are now?

I am fine to leave us in my bedroom in Logan Square, swimming in pink light and tipsy on new love: frozen in time, as first love should be.

Maybe back then, I would have used the lyrics from the last song of OK Computer, “The Tourist” when we said those defining words to each other:

Hey man, slow down, slow down
Idiot, slow down, slow down

He did try to pump the brakes, because our short love affair was two parts–two weeks of passion and two weeks of silence. But we were already lost…

Because of the rapid speed, it was a love I questioned, out loud, to an older friend, who said–hey, if you’re feeling it, then it’s real.

Either way, there are no regrets. If love is there, you take it–especially when you’re feeling so out of orbit, so out of sync. For a brief but memorable moment, he was the square hole to my square peg. And from the day I met him until the day I die, that will always mean something, because life can be so hard and lonely. For all of that, I will always be grateful: for the respite, for the adoration, for the passion, and for the music.

OK Computer definitely punctuated a large chunk of my forays into adulthood, and in love. I know it was a defining album for a band who so wanted to get away from the song, “Creep” from their first album, Pablo Honey. Radiohead allowed me to be not only oh-so-cool and in love, but also curious and a little afraid of what’s happening to humanity. For all of that, I will always be grateful.

we are in it

we are in it.

I created this image when I was feeling a little more hopeful about my life. But now, I feel just exhausted. I just wrote this post which details some of that exhaustion, and it kind of left off at some thoughts about faith.

First of all, Richard Rohr, OFM is my favorite living Christian. Maybe he’s my favorite Christian of all time. If more Christians were like him, we’d live in a much better world. I feel like the contemplative realm of Christianity is probably the best part of it. Anyway, Rohr’s writings really helped to shape my faith as a Christian, especially in his book, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer. The book beautifully details about how joy and suffering both belong in our lives.

But let me focus on this quote and be a little astrological about it. As you probably know I am a Capricorn sun and rising/ascendant. That means upon first meeting me, you’re like. “Yep, total Capricorn.” And then, as you get to know me, you’d also realize that yes, she is a Capricorn: workhorse, kinda bossy, weird sense of humor, loyal, stubborn.

Although the rest of my chart has a lot of fire and some water, with a little bit of air, I’m pretty earthy. I need to see things. I want contracts signed. I want instant communication. I want to see it, right now.

It’s a human trait, and we all share it, but faith isn’t really like that.

Also being a Capricorn, I want to just do it myself. I’ll start the conversation. I’ll shoot my shot. I’ll convince you to do x. I’ll “push the river” as it were. And all of that is about control–I’ll control my outcomes. I want to be safe. I want to feel secure. I’ll make it happen. And so much of life contains people and circumstances that we cannot control.

This isn’t to say that faith is about passivity. This river has kinetic energy. It is moving. It’s just that I am not the one moving the river. It just goes. And there is support as I am going along with the river. I am in it. I don’t have to make sure the river was turned on before I get in my canoe.

But hey, faith ain’t easy, right? No, it’s not. It’s not meant to be easy. It’s work.  It’s dedication. Sometimes, there’s the gift of faith, where we just know things will work out. It’s usually something we can hold for other people.

But most of the time, it’s a moment-by-moment experience. Sometimes, you’re just in your canoe, paddling, enjoying the scenery. Other times, you’re just trying to hold on for dear life. Right now, I have to believe that I’m even in a canoe and not just being thrown around in the rapids.

And, this has been my life, in very dramatic ways. My life story has been conquering the impossible over and over. There has been so much triumph and success–most of it hard fought. But, as I said, I’m just exhausted. And I wish I had written this post when I was traversing calmer waters, buoyed by more hope.

But the river is flowing. I am in it. We are in it. I have to trust in new ways, for bigger things, for scarier things. I have to trust in this very extensive life transformation that’s happening. I have to believe that the healing is coming, that the healing is already here and is already happening. I have to really embrace with gratitude the small, everyday joys that come my way so that I don’t become frozen in jaded ingratitude.

I have to. I have to.

I’m going to end with this song that is going to be obscure to even most white evangelical Christians, but it sums up how I feel.  I may be a tough warrior, seemingly implacable and unflappable. But deep inside this armor…

“The Warrior Is a Child” is a song I grew up with (it’s from 1984), written and sung by a woman who has created a lot of Christian worship songs that people still sing today.  This is a more modern version of the song and aptly has images depicting Joan of Arc.

May you remember that you are in the river. We are in it.