Sunday, April 29, 2012

Radical Retrospective: The 200th Post!


 © 2012 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved



I started The Radical Virgo blog in 2009, thanks to a huge cosmic hint contained in the enthusiasm of an avid reader. He was inspired by my article that first appeared in The Mountain Astrologer in 1990, The Radical Virgo. "The Radical Virgo," the article, also has been posted online for years on the wonderful Australian archive, A Place in Space. It continued to get positive feedback nearly 20 years later. (People have referred to me as “The Radical Virgo” ever since I first wrote it.) This blog was an experiment, and it seemed logical to name it after the article that catalyzed its creation, especially since it was also my astrological nickname.

On the cusp of launching my new astrology site, I was no stranger to blogging. I had been posting for three years on my baby boomer turned spirited living blog, Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights. I absolutely loved Hot/Cool, despite the fact that it took me awhile to find its footing and right direction. Alas, I never did find but a fraction of its potential audience.

This was not the case, at all, with The Radical Virgo. Out of the gate, I had four to five times the pageviews and visitors in just weeks, compared to three years of hard work on Hot/Cool. This was my first hint that the experiment of The Radical Virgo was a success and that this blog was meant to be.

On this anniversary of the 200th post on The Radical Virgo, I marvel at what we’ve created here together in both community and body of knowledge. I didn’t know I had it in me. My topics and frequency of blogging have varied over this trio of years, but not as much as I thought till I looked back. There are usually a minimum four posts per month, and in the past, up to twice as many. My habit of considering bits of astrology in depth, usually seasoned with humor, still prevails. Even when I’m less available to blog, as I am currently, the whole adventure of blogging continues to be like eating potato chips for me. I can’t have just one. The crisp, salty taste just keeps me coming back for more. Every time I think I’ve run out of things to say, that maniacal muse in the back of my head starts laughing my head off—and I’m writing down some other inspiration. These often occur at the beauty salon under the hair dryer, a bit from one of my Auntie Joyce posts that is autobiographical and oddly true. (I go to a salon that has almost all Virgo hairdressers. How could a Venus-ruled Virgo not write in such an atmosphere?)

I always think these milestones are a great time to look at a few fun stats and factoids about what we’re doing here. Let’s start with the 10 Top Posts of All Time as of this 200th post:


The Radical Hit Parade, 2009 – 2012

  1. Chiron Quiz: How Strong is Your Chiron? (Aug 17, 2010, 101 comments/ 5,666 Pageviews

  1. Chiron in Pisces: Integration and Integrity (Apr 16, 2010, 14 comments/ 2,734 Pageviews)

  2. Emotional Maturity: The Secondary Progressed Moon ... (Apr 18, 2011, 5 comments/ 1,051 Pageviews
  3. Humor: Quotes for the Signs #2 (Jul 6, 2009, 2 comments/ 715 Pageviews)
  4. The Chiron Resonance Quiz: What’s Your Chi-Res Sco... (Sep 17, 2010, 20 comments/ 697 Pageviews
  5. Ten Ways to Celebrate Mars Retrograde (Jan 23, 2012, 14 comments / 654 Pageviews)
  6. Quotes for the Signs #7 (Feb 25, 2011, 2 comments/ 650 Pageviews)
  7. Neptune in Pisces: Sharing Our Visions for Astrology (Mar 5, 2012, 2 comments/ 615 Pageviews)
  8. Saturn in Libra: "Form" Your Love Life, Chart Your... (Mar 4, 2010, 8 comments/ 531 Pageviews)
   10. Moonwalk: Sagittarius (Dec 3, 2010, 6 C/ 427 PV)  

Several things stand out for me in this line-up. Despite my being a Chiron specialist and writing a lot about Chiron, only three of the Top 10 are articles about Chiron. I’m glad you find my two-cents worth on other topics worth reading, too. One of these hits belongs to my colleague, a beautiful human being both inside and out, Mandi Lockley of the UK. Visit her on Astroair Astrology to get more of her excellent articles like #3, above, “Emotional Maturity: The Secondary Progressed Moon Cycle.”

I’m still chuckling about #10. Of all the Moonwalks we’ve taken around the zodiac—and we’ve done them all!—Sagittarius turns out to be the most popular. I’m laughing because two of the loves of my life, including my first husband, had Sag Moon. I found them both delightful and exasperating! Apparently, I’m the not the only one who wants to know more about what makes these guys and gals tick.

I’ll always wonder, of all the Quotes for the Signs, what makes #2 and #7 stand out in the crowd?

Click chart to enlarge


The Radical Virgo on the RV Blog’s Chart

The Radical Virgo launched at one of the best times to begin something new, the Spring Equinox. With all the emphasis on Aquarius and Pisces and the 10th and 11th Houses, RV was meant to be a group effort where unique ideas converge. Aries Sun makes it trailblazing and adventurous. The blog shares my personal degree of Taurus Rising on purpose, an obvious way to help me remain indentified with it. Ironically, there isn’t a single planet in Virgo in the chart of the Radical Virgo Blog; however, the radical part is more than covered by the stellium in Aquarius.

Who Are You?

The ringtone on my phone is from the original CSI, its theme song by The Who, Who Are You? (Who? Who?) This is a musical pun for me, every time the phone rings. But I digress. Here’s a bit about who you are, my Radical Readers:

·       The vast majority of readers come from the USA. Top states are California, New York, Ohio, Florida and Washington in order.

·       The next most traffic comes from the UK, Canada, India, Australia, France, and Romania.

·       You typically read an average of 1.5 pages, currently for over 2.5 minutes. Because I write longer articles, many of you will read for 5-10 minutes or more. In our fast-paced cyber world, I consider your attention quite a compliment and am grateful for your time.

·       Most of you come by way of search engines (49%). Thirty-five percent are referred from other sites, and 11 percent come directly, presumably via bookmarked links. At least a quarter of you are “regulars,” who return often. Thank you!

“Best of” Sites

The Radical Virgo is in the Top 10-20, much of the time, on a number of sites that track astrology blogs. Here are a few examples.

·       Astrology Top Listed

·       Post Rank - Astrology

·       Astrology All Top


Ideas for Joining the Celebration

If you enjoy reading The Radical Virgo as much as I enjoy writing the articles at the heart of it, here are some ways you can join me in celebrating yet another marker on the round trips from Earth to Sky that we make on these pages.

  1. Comment—now and as often as possible. Let me know why you like coming here or your response to a specific article. There are no direct rewards for blogging, though there are many indirect ones, a few financial (like connections for readings and book sales) and many more that are invaluable like the formation of simpatico friendships and sharing transformative ideas. Your enthusiasm is the salt on my potato chips. Keep connecting and letting me know what you like and want more of. I’ll be here, if you will! Another way this helps? Considerable traffic is driven to The Radical Virgo from the “best blog” sites. For many of them, rankings are based on interactions, including comments. Of course, most people tend to visit the higher-placed blogs.

  2. Visit or Revisit Some of the Top 10. The Top 10 are hardly the only articles on The Radical Virgo—only five percent of them. You can download the Annotated Article Index by topic of the first three years and easily see what’s been written so far in 2012 by way of the Blog Archive toward the bottom of the sidebar.

  3. Sign Up for the Cardinal Quarterly Newsletter, if you haven’t already. You get special offers on readings, book sales, and exclusive information that is not posted but shared only with those of you willing to make our communications a two-way street. See the top of the sidebar.

  4. Tell Your Friends about The Radical Virgo. Blogs keep alive and thrive by your endorsements. Forward this or the link to any post to folks you think would appreciate our Radical romps. I’d love it if you’d post the RV link on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest pages.

  5. Like “Joyce Mason – The Radical Virgo” on Facebook. You can also Friend me on my personal page.

  6. Follow Me on Twitter. You’ll get links to my blog posts, inspirational quotes, and a lot more in a lot less space.

  7. Follow Me on Pinterest. If you haven’t discovered or yet indulged in this newest, graphic-driven way of social networking, as my heroine Auntie Mame would say, I can show you worlds!

  8. Contribute an article.  If you like to write, I’m always open to guest articles, especially now that I need to lower my number of posts to make room for book projects. Email me to discuss your proposal.


Last but most important: Where ever you are when you read this, send warm thoughts to The Radical Virgo, the blog and the blogger—and toast us in your mind! I often feel your warm thoughts in the ethers and sense your vibrations in the cybersphere. Sometimes, I can almost hear your heartbeats. I love those notes that often come in response to one of the newsletters—or any other time.

Jupiter smiles on me. This has been one of the most rewarding projects of my life. Thanks for your part in making it so.

~~~

Photo Credit: 200 © Christian Pedant | Fotolia.com




Saturday, April 21, 2012

UAC 2012: The United Astrology Conference


© 2012 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved




Despite the fact that the acronym for this gathering is pronounced YOU-Whack, I doubt Tony Soprano or anyone in his “family” will be attending. Nope,  the “You-Whack” name aside, I don’t think these conference goers will suddenly develop any tendencies to make people disappear—permanently. The thousands of astrology lovers descending on New Orleans are unlikely to be the least bit menacing, especially at a “do” dedicated to Venus! I’m enchanted with the idea that the astrological community can help rebuild New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by bringing our business and enthusiasm and starry-eyed gaze toward the future to this very special city. My husband and I are big fans of the HBO show, Treme, and I’ve gotten a new appreciation for The Big Easy since watching this program. (Season 3 is in production. Rumor has it,  it’ll air in fall.) I’ve been to New Orleans so many times in my living room, though only once previously in person a long time ago. I expect to feel right at home when I get there.

If you’ve never been to a UAC, it’s the huge international astrology convention held every four years, sponsored by the world’s biggest astrological organizations: National Council for Geocosmic Research (NCGR), Association for Astrological Networking (AFAN), International Society for Astrological Research (ISAR), and Organization of Professional Astrologers (OPA), among others.

Joyce at UAC '95 in Monterey, CA.
I haven’t attended a UAC since 1995 when it was held not far from home for me in Monterey, CA. My UAC “fast” has been largely because of a hiatus I took from practicing astrology in any kind of public way for most of the 2000s, while I made adjustments in my personal life—going from very single to very married and completing a three-decade long career in my day job as a civil servant, where I worked in waste prevention and recycling programs. (I wish I were still this young and still had that gaudy, blingy purple sweater. Better yet, that it still fit.)

Now, I’m back—and back to going UAC, a wacka do!

It occurred to me there were several things I wanted to share with my readers about UAC. Especially if you’ve never been to one, you might appreciate some feedback from Been There, Done That. It’s not too late to sign up, and if this post inspires you, we come to my first point:

If you’ll be at UAC, please look for me and say hello. I love to meet my readers. Want to make a point of it? E-mail me to swap cell phone numbers, and we can plan to converge, if at all possible.

Tips for Not Getting Whacked Out at UAC

Going to a UAC is unlike anything you’ve ever done before—unless you’ve ever been to another UAC. Especially if you are sensitive to energies like I am, you’ll need to prepare yourself or live in a daze of overwhelm the entire time you’re there. I considered asking Auntie Joyce to step in to add some of her acerbic wit to this advice column, but I think I’ll save her for afterwards, when I’m sure I’ll have some very funny stories she can help me tell.

  1. Be well rested going in. There will be so much swirling Uranian energy, so many cool people to see and talk to, books and gismos to see at the trade show, and such an exciting city to explore: you’ll bust a corpuscle or pop a gasket if you’re not centered and physically ready for the assault to your senses. This is the Niagra Falls of astrological highs and you’ll be in a place that will remind you, unfortunately, of the potentially devastating effects of too much wind and water element combined. Take care of yourself, and don’t burn the candle at both ends before you jump on that plane to New Orleans—or into your car, if you live close enough to drive there.

  2. Scope out a retreat.  If you can afford your own room, that’s ideal. If you can’t, figure out when you can zig and zag with your roomie to get some private time. Find a beautiful corner or place around the corner—a coffee shop or serene rest stop—and be willing to go there when you’re drunk on too much astrology.

  3. Don’t try to “do it all.” Have I ever learned this one the hard way! Today I started looking at the specific lectures in 15 tracks. In Track 1 alone, there were six lectures I’d love to hear. Obviously, I can’t be six places at the same time. If you know how to do that, this is your golden opportunity. You could make a fortune at this conference selling your secret at the Trade Show. The talks are taped and you can buy CDs of anything you can’t live without. As tempting as it is, if learning is your main reason to be at UAC, you’re going to have to be very disciplined on the choices you make or your head will spin and all your money will fall out of your pockets at the tape booth.

  4. Think comedy and camaraderie. Sure, there’s a lot of serious business that can get done at a conference like this, but it is also for fun and for many of us, a vacation. The one thing you can get at UAC that you can’t get otherwise is face time. You can hear people’s lectures on CD or over the Internet or take a class from them online, but you can’t interact with some of the best astrologers and fans of astrology, en masse, like you can at UAC. You can’t have a drink or a meal with them. (OK, you can, but it’s not the same when you’re sipping your martini behind two separate computers in different parts of the country or wold.) You may be lucky enough to live in the same city with some of these folks and see them on a regular basis, but rarely will you have the chance to have access to so many of them at the same gathering. In my humble opinion, this is the most non-transferable benefit of a UAC. I am gearing my time there with this in mind. I also wouldn’t think of missing Michael Lutin’s comedy extravaganza, OMG! The Mayans Were Right! It’s described as a post-apocalyptic time travel musical evening. However, I think I’ll skip the bowling night, despite promises of Cajun food and a hot band at a local club. It’s the bowling part that doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not sure I’ve ever bowled in the double digits. Just call me Gutter Belle. (We'll be in the South, right?)

  5. Bask in the afterglow. In addition to learning, schmoozing, playing and honoring astrology’s best, there will be an afterglow that’s similar to the high of great sex. You can float on the buzz for a long time. You can keep UAC alive in your mind and heart by following up and connecting with those many people you met or re-encountered at the conference. Friend them on Facebook, email them, or call them and tell them how much you loved spending time with them—whatever works for you. Also, you don’t have to break your personal bank and buy all the CDs you want at the conference. They’ll be for sale online for years to come. You can “go back” by buying a few batches here and there. It will be like reliving the conference. Of course, since you’ll bring your cell phone, you can take lots of pictures.

  6. Plan recovery time.  Don’t jump back into your daily routine right after the conference. Give yourself at least a few days to re-enter. You’ll have so much to assimilate, especially if there’s any jetlag thrown in. You’ll need the energetic equivalent of what I call Info Seltzer to deal with your astro-indigestion. If you can’t integrate what you saw, said and heard, it won’t be useful and you won’t feel so hot. Be gentle with yourself. You’ve just had quite an affair!

  7. Loved it? Plan for UAC 2016. Download your feelings about your experience in your journal. What would you do the same? Differently? Why not start planning right after 2012’s extravaganza for the next adventure in 2016. It’ll be a lot easier to afford if you set aside just a bit of cash every month for four years. (Just $25/month will give you $1200 on the cusp of the next UAC.)

Lastly, I’d love to hear your UAC experiences from previous years or your feedback about this year’s conference, if you attend. Got other tips for the rest of us getting ready for the big event? I’d love to hear them.

I am so looking forward to connecting with as many of you as possible. The astrological community has always been international, but it’s never been closer than it has become in the last decade as our tools for virtual contact have allowed us to build beautiful, meaningful relationships from head and heart without ever having met each other in body.

Imagine that … and hugging, too!

~~~
Photo Credit: Tree Hug - © Tommy Schultz - Fotolia.com
Happy Earth Day from The Radical Virgo! While we’re on the subject, if you need to hug a tree or your favorite planet or otherwise be inspired for this annual celebration on April 22, catch these past Earth Day posts.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Radical Departure: What’s Next for "The Crystal Ball"



© 2012 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved


This is one of my occasional posts on the status of my humorous mystery, The Crystal Ball. Thanks for your support as I dig deeper into one of my favorite genres of writing!


March 31 has come and long gone. It's the latest date day by which I should have heard the news, if I happened to be the lucky winner of the St. Martin’s First Crime Novel Contest. Although I haven’t yet seen the winner posted online, I assume it’s not me for lack of a call or letter. I’m less disappointed that I thought I'd be. Now it’s time to move onto Plan B. Transiting Jupiter entered my 1st House on the same day—March 31—and I’m even more optimistic than usual about the book’s potential. I don’t equate not winning to “the book isn’t good.” Contests have to find the book that best fits the publishing criteria of the sponsoring publisher. I’ve had very positive feedback from early readers about The Crystal Ball, including comparisons of my writing style to that of Janet Evanovich. (I love her hilarious mysteries and consider that quite a compliment.) Best of all, I like how it turned out, and as you can imagine, The Radical Virgo can be a Radical Nitpicker when it comes to getting it just right. (If you knew what I go through sometimes, just to get the “perfect” art or photo for one of these posts, you’d be rolling your eyes as much as reading with them!)

It was good to take a breather from the project between submission of the book to the contest in November 2011 till now. It was one of many major projects that contributed to massive overdo last year. The cumulative busy tizzy left me in deep recovery all winter. Meanwhile, I’ve been gleaning wisdom from one of my favorite local authors. She tells me the only people making money as authors these days are the already famous, who nabbed a traditional publisher and steady contract long ago, and those who are self-publishing. That’s what a Virgo likes, a practical analysis. I’ve given away so much of my writing, willingly I might add, it’s time to help support the family for all my time and effort. Especially as we get older—even the pets!—our care and keeping gets costlier. Given that, I think I’ll be self-publishing. Being both author and publisher is labor intensive, but it yields the highest percentage of profits and in many ways, the highest satisfaction. Someone even told me recently that big publishers are now searching Amazon to find new authors who self-publish and make good sales. The book industry really has been turned on its ear by print on demand, e-readers, and the other cool tools of the Information Age. It's a whole new ballgame.

Here’s my newest blurb on the book:

The Crystal Ball

Opposites attract with such chemistry, they’re San Francisco’s latest earthquake. Astrologer Micki Michaels and Curt Stern are odder as a couple than Bones and Booth, except she’s the bleeding heart. He’s still the FBI agent, but retired and loving it--if she’d just let him. Micki and Curt find themselves keeping masqueraders from turning up dead at a futuristic, New Year’s Eve costume party. It’s the silver anniversary celebration of the longevity association she heads. Some nutcase wants the secret of immortality. He has no doubt crashed the party as one of the masked characters. How will they figure out who he is, protect family and friends, and keep this party the love-in craved by the Immortalists on Planet Earth Association? Wacky costumes, solutions and surprises. You’ll laugh way past Auld Lang Syne.

My favorite Vedic astrologer, Dennis Harness, told me long ago that I have a good signature for self-publishing in my Jyotish chart. I’ve decided I need to believe him, believe in my own positive self-publishing history, and believe in myself. Isn’t it one of life’s great astrological ironies that Virgo, a sign strong in the charts of many writers, is also one with the challenge of self-doubt?

I had this huge aha recently that Jupiter in the 1st House combines the keywords House of Self and the Planet of Publishing = Self-Publishing. Now is, apparently, my time. So what am I waiting for, except for a new method to stare down the fear of the unknown?

It’s not like I don’t have experience self-publishing. I’ve been doing it since the 1990s, starting with Chironicles. I do it now on this blog and with my e-books. However, I’ve not yet done a paperback or print book, which simply adds another format to my repertoire.

So, here’s my plan. Since it has continued to sell well in PDF and e-reader versions, I’m going to adapt Chiron and Wholeness: A Primer into a paperback version so there will be a third format and purchasing option. In the process of converting that short primer, I should learn everything I need to know about how to self-publish The Crystal Ball. One of the things I’ve learned, thanks to you, is that PDF and e-reader versions are a good place to start. Then if sales warrant, moving to paperback makes sense, so people have choices that fit their various preferences.

If Saturn is good to me (we have a great relationship, overall), I hope to have my novel available by autumn. I could use all the cheerleading I can get … and if anyone has advice from any personal publishing experiences, I’m taking notes!

Thanks for being there for me and with me on my path of the pen,
Joyce

PS – I guess it’s more the path of the keyboard in modern times. I have never been so grateful that I took typing as a teenager in summer school—or for my fast flying, nimble fingers, which have gotten quite a workout ever since.

~~~

 Photo Credit: © P├ętrouche - Fotolia.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Planet of the Month


 A Practice for Becoming More Intimate
with Your Astrological Energies

© 2012 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved



At NCGR-Sacramento Area, we started a new tradition this year. We have instituted the Planet of the Month. The star of our solar system at each meeting is the planetary ruler of the Sun. Since we normally meet on the last Sunday, it’s the ruler of the Sun sign that has recently changed. For instance, in late March (Aries) it was Mars. In late April (Taurus) is will be Venus.

Michael J. Fox
© Thomas Atilla Lewis, Wikipedia
We’ve created a ritual from our decision to focus on one planet each month. We go around the room and introduce or reintroduce ourselves —one minute max— by how that planet plays out in our charts including sign, house and major aspects. We also give a brief blurb on how we experience the energy. For example, if one of my favorite actors, Michael J. Fox, who has an awesome sense of humor about his Parkinson’s Disease, were introducing himself, he might say: I have Mars in Leo conjunct Uranus, exactly on the Descendant. It’s also sextile Sun. Others get an opportunity to see me in the limelight, trying to control my tremors while staying upbeat about how life has thrown me this curveball.  

It occurred to me recently that this ritual is something you could do on your own, at your astrology group, or with a few friends who are into astrology. One of the perennial challenges of studying astrology is TMI—too much information. It’s hard to understand the entire code in the horoscope unless you approach it like the proverbial joke, how do you eat an elephant? (One bite at a time.)

This practice is a good follow-up to the last post on Your Astrological Blind Spot. In doing this exercise by planet, I’m becoming reacquainted with aspects that I have tended to gloss over. What happens in the group situation: You learn about the range of how this planetary energy can express itself. This can give both hope and cautionary tales, depending on how others are using the Planet of the Month’s energies. The big bonus for us, too, is that we are getting to know each other better, allowing us to form a strong constellation as a star tribe. That better knowing of Self and Other is one of the best outcomes of this simple exercise.

Ideas for Working with Planet of the Month


  1. Set a reminder in your computer or calendar whenever the Sun moves into the next sign. If you use an astrological calendar, it’s already there, but you’ll still need the tweak on your personal calendar, if your life is as busy as most modern people’s.

  2. Set aside 15-20 minutes within a day of this reminder to explore the Planet of the Month. Check your chart and especially, if you have astrological software that has Reports, check the reports for your natal chart to see if you’re missing any aspects you have not been focusing on, major or minor.

  3. Keep a journal in your computer, by hand, or by digital recording—whatever method works best for you. Pretend you’re introducing or reintroducing yourself to others via this planet, if doing it solo. If doing it in a group, it feels more natural! Introducing yourself, even to yourself, gets you out of the inner focus to invite in the objective view of others, even if they aren’t there! (This is like Gestalt therapy, where you change roles or chairs, moving from the client persona to an invisible observer/ friend.) This practice puts you in a different frame of mind to see yourself in a new light.

  4. The most important part of this exercise isn’t just the aspects you uncover but how you feel about how they work in your life. Each aspect is going to have pluses and minuses. Explore them and write or talk about them. What emotions do you uncover? Blocks or easy pathways?

  5. Even if the planet in question is not Mars, what actions does this exercise suggest you might take for a better relationship with the Planet of the Month? One person recently showed how she found a way to surrender to one of the most natural expressions of her Mars, one she was able to perceive as a positive.


By the end of a year, you’ll have an amazing delineation of your chart. Next year, we’ll probably do Sign of the Month, and possibly in the future, Aspect of the Month. In three years, you could start all over and probably still be in constant rediscovery—and notice that your feelings about the Planet of the Month have changed as you’ve lived and learned.

And for the planets that are difficult to digest and remain challenging, pass the Alka Seltzer or other tummy trouble remedy. Remember, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither can elephants and horoscopes be swallowed in a year—or maybe even a lifetime.

Bon app├ętit!


~~~

 
Photo Credit: Elephant Zodiac © spectr - Fotolia.com