Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Planet Are You From?

Back to Basics Series - Planets

© 2009 by Joyce Mason

One of my favorite mindless things to do on
Facebook is to take one silly quiz after another. I’ve learned from What Inanimate Object Are You? that I am a spatula. From What Famous Painting Are You? I’ve discovered that I’m Kahlo’s Las Dos Fridas. (Apparently, I let my dark side come out in my responses to that one.) In a quiz called What Planet Are You From? I’ve learned that I hail from the Pleiades. (I figure that’s why I always loved pliés in ballet and still do them as stretches, because I am Plié-idian.)

Bad puns aside, this last quiz suggested a way to approach the next leg of my journey around the astrological basics. If we review the planets in our solar system and their astrological meanings seeking the “prize” of resonance or affinity, we’ll uncover important information about our astrology charts in the process. The planets that sound good to us are probably ones we want to emphasize—either for now or in the long-term of our lives. Those we would not care to visit on vacation when space travel becomes commonplace—they are probably our trouble spots that need healing attention. After all, the ultimate goal is to integrate all the astrological archetypes represented by the planets and the other features of our charts. Peace in Earth (our bodies are considered to be made of the earth element) is having our internal universe operating like a finely tuned clock with all its moving parts acting in accord with one another. Peace on Earth results from the divine domino effect of individuals who have made peace with their astrological, metaphorical planets in order to make peace on the physical planet itself. Peace is an inside job; that’s where it starts.

Back to Basics

This is my second topic area in a series of articles taking a new look at the astrological basics. We started in the
High Signs articles with the twelve signs of the zodiac, looking for their optimal expression and discovered that each sign represents a phase of individuation that parallels plant growth. My goal for these adventures is to make the basics user-friendly to beginners, while uncovering new insights for people who have spoken the language of astrology for a long time. I believe the deepest astrological ahas come from exploring and re-exploring the basic building blocks of this rich, symbolic language. Those building blocks are the signs, planets, houses, and aspects or geometric angles that planets form to each other in the sky at the moment of birth or any event for which we’re casting a horoscope.

Like all writers who speak my native tongue, I share information, ideas, and create stories with the same 26 letters of the English alphabet. There are 12 astrological signs and 10-11 “planets” typically described in astrology. (Planet actually means wanderer and suffices as a generic term for all the sky objects that move in orbits.) We do astrology from the perspective of the Earth, so we don’t usually work with the home ground, but we do count the Sun and Moon, even though they are not technically planets. (The Sun is a star and the Moon is a satellite of Earth). The Sun and Moon have an indisputable close relationship to us as Earth’s most visible “lights.” I also use the centaur planet Chiron and still count Pluto, as most astrologers do, regardless of its demotion by astronomers from planetary status. There are more than these 11 if you include additional bodies such as the other centaurs or asteroids. Next, there are 12 houses, and 5 major aspects and 6 minor aspects. This adds up to at least 46 “letters” of the astrological alphabet. As you can see, that makes astrology, on the sheer basis of “language bits,” more complex than English. There are more potential combinations, and they come with rich associations in mythology, universal stories that were tapped in naming the planets and signs.

Yet, when we grok the basics down to our toes, the language nearly speaks itself—almost a starry version of speaking in tongues. We know it so well, it channels through us, just like children who learn language by ear and experience. I share this observation, especially with beginners, so you won’t be overwhelmed or discouraged. Immersion in the basics leads to fluency.

Pack Your Bags for the Rocket Ride

Without getting ahead of myself (houses will be covered in a separate article), it’s important to mention that each planet is associated with a sign and house. With the signs already covered, I’ll introduce these trios or triplets that have affinity to each other in this middle article.

Here’s a quick reference chart to take with you on the rest of our tour around the basics. If you’re a beginner, think of it as a Berlitz pocket conversation guidebook translating astrologese to English for our trip to the stars. The sooner you recognize each trinity, the quicker you’ll catch the way these parts of astrological speech work together. It’s like learning the multiplication tables. Don’t worry about the why for now; it’ll become clearer later on.

Astrological Affinities

Aries –
Mars – House 1
Taurus – Venus – House 2
Gemini – Mercury – House 3
Cancer – Moon – House 4
Leo – Sun – House 5
Virgo – Mercury/Chiron* – House 6
Libra – Venus – House 7
Scorpio – Pluto – House 8
Sagittarius – Jupiter – House 9
Capricorn – Saturn – House 10
Aquarius – Uranus – House 11
Pisces – Neptune – House 12

*(While there remains some controversy over Chiron’s rulership, I associate Chiron with the
Virgo to Sagittarius sector of the zodiac. Since The Chiron Sector begins with Virgo, I also feel there is merit to using Chiron along with Mercury as a co-pilot in navigating Virgo and the 6th, even to consider Chiron its modern ruler, if we have a need to use the concept of rulership consistently.)


As we tour the solar system in order starting with the Sun to the farthest reaches beyond it, remember to make mental or actual notes on which planets sound like nice places to visit. Disregard details like a climate that would boil, bake, fry, or freeze you, if you could breathe the air long enough to stay more than a minute. This is a metaphorical tour. Anyone can afford it, and it requires no astronaut training.

Sun - It’s the center of our piece of cosmic real estate. All the other planets in our solar system revolve around it. This life-giver stands from an astrological perspective for will, self-awareness, personal power, self-expression, and the drive to make a difference. It governs the child phase of life and creativity itself. The Sun is associated with professions such as teacher, artist, actor and other entertainers. It is a symbol of the masculine principle, father, the ego and leaders. The Sun governs yearly cycles. As an energy, it is concentrated and focalized. Its primary association in the human body is the heart.

Moon - The Sun’s complement, the Moon reflects rather than shines. It governs moods, emotions, sensations, perceptions, and change. Its realm includes feelings, instincts, gut reactions, sensitivity, and protectiveness. The Moon is associated with the feminine principle, mothering, food, digestion, hunger, comfort, and the family. It particularly rules the mother-child relationship and all bonds that nurture. Comforts and habits are its domain, along with the home. The Moon governs monthly cycles. In the human body, its primary associations are the breasts, digestion, and the lymphatic system. As you can imagine, all professions that involve nurture from caretaking to food industries “come from this planet.”

Mercury - A quick moving planet that rules communications, thought, and clever ideas, Mercury governs our brains and nervous systems. On its downside, a Gemini friend (Mercury ruled) once complained how he “beats himself up with his brain.” Too much thinking, like too much accumulation of mercury in the fish we eat, can have negative, even fatal consequences (mercury poisoning). Mercury’s realms are thought, logic, research, and analysis. You might like to live on our metaphorical Mercury if you like facts, news, writing, and learning—and communications devices. If an extraterrestrial landed on Earth from Mercury, he might have numerous cell phones, PDAs, computers and other gadgetry hanging off a tool belt on his spacesuit—or the Planet Mercury equivalent of those gismos. Writers and communicators are associated with Mercury, inventors and those who conduct commerce. Other affiliations: short trips, work, and dexterity. The dead giveaway to a Mercurial person is their love of trivia. They are fact collectors who bore easily. Once boredom sets in, it’s time to find more facts or something else new to entertain and engage them!

Venus - Is there anyone out there who (honestly) wouldn’t want to visit the planet of beauty, love, and harmony? The atmosphere of Venus resonates charm, comfort, romance, and refinements. It’s a place where art, music and luxury thrive. The planet associated with partnership, relationship, and marriage, its realms are cooperation, consideration, balance, fairness, and that most illusive thing of all—happiness. Named for the goddess of love and beauty, Venus is affiliated with our veins and the female sex organs. Like the Moon, Venus represents the feminine. The downside of this planet is an over-the-top love of luxuries, money, and a tendency toward indulgence and not taking things seriously. Diplomats and lovers are Venusian. (Aren’t they one in the same?) Peace, pleasure, and serenity are what people from this planet strive for. You might come from this planet if you have a hard time being alone and simply must be in a relationship at all times, for better or for worse. (Hmm, I detect a vague similarity to certain vows …)

Mars - The complement to Venus (
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus), this planet is all about action, desire, impulse and drive—even force of strength. What a mixed bag of masculine energy—courage, decisiveness, competition, energy, and adventure, alongside anger, aggression, violence, the military, explosions, and sharp objects. Mars is male sexuality, and in addition to the male sex organ, Mars rules muscles. Athletes—especially the most beefy (muscular) ones—are from Mars. The atmosphere of Mars contains impatience, ego and a tendency toward selfishness, but the extroverted swashbucklers who inhabit it are go-getters in the spirit of the yang half of yin/yang. Mars energy is outer and accomplishes things in the world. Can’t sit around waiting! People from Mars make good police officers, athletes, and pioneers of every type. Since there isn’t much unmapped physical terrain left on earth, people from Mars find uncharted territories in whatever field interests them and apply their creativity and get-‘er-done excitement to the challenge. Men from Mars aren’t green in the sense of inexperience; rather, they are likely to be innovative leaders.

Jupiter – Unless you’re a complete stick-in-the-mud, I can’t image that you wouldn’t enjoy a stop on the planet associated with enthusiasm, luck, good fortune, optimism, upbeat attitudes, benevolence, outgoing nature, and goodwill. People who come from this planet tend to love travel, especially long journeys. (They love everything foreign.) On their serious side—the one it’s hard at times to imagine these fun-loving folks have—they are passionate about law, religion, and philosophy. They are likely to argue with you on these subjects until their jaws are sore. They tell the truth, often bluntly, and believe staunchly in their convictions. They thrive on higher education. They are also jovial types who love to play games, sports, and are generous, often to a fault. Santa Claus comes from Jupiter, where I suspect the mythical North Pole is really located. Since the job of Santa is already taken, some other professions people from this planet often gravitate toward are spiritual teacher, minister, professor, and teacher. In our bodies, Jupiter is associated with the arteries and liver. Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system, a place where exaggeration and things larger-than-life pervade the atmosphere.

Saturn – A planet many people tend to spurn for its reputation of discipline, self-sacrifice, and responsibility, making friends with Saturn yields a treasure trove of qualities that make life work on Earth. Among its blessings are wisdom, practicality, earthiness, ambition, structure, dependability, and incredible organizational skills. On the downside, there is guilt, fear, pessimism, sadness, and even a tendency toward depression. The darker side of Saturn often comes from difficult father or authority figures in childhood, whether they were within the nuclear family or larger circles of belonging such as government or organized religion. Saturn is Father Time, associated with aging and all things to do with clocks and efficiency. The atmosphere of Saturn contains caution, self-control, and can sometimes dip into too much seriousness, conservatism, and tradition for no other reason than “it has always been done this way.” Saturn rules corporate executives and anyone that tops a hierarchy, as well as politicians. It’s associated in the body with knees, bones, and teeth because Saturn’s best quality is providing structure. If you can imagine a human being without a backbone (hello, jellyfish!), imagine a life without structure. It’s obvious why travel to the resort areas of this planet is a must for successful living.

Chiron – Chiron houses a heroes’ school where teaching, mentoring, and bringing out the best in people is the purpose of the place. Here, you can learn how to give your gifts in order to make all of society tick. There is that one thing only you can do best. On Chiron, you learn how to develop it and contribute it. Most associated with mythical Chiron’s incurable wound, after whom this comet/planetoid (centaur) is named, there is a paradox to discover. In your wounding lies the key to your healing, and it is up to you to learn to make lemonade out of life’s lemons. Chiron’s function is wholemaking and learning to weave together the fragments of ourselves into a not-so-crazy quilt. Chiron teaches the healing in humor, how to overcome sexual shame, and how to get unstuck from chronic wounds. People from Chiron may have an actual physical handicap. Note that word has “handy” in it, reflecting the hidden gift in learning to make lemonade from wounds that can’t be healed on the physical level. Although its atmosphere is the merging of all opposites—light/dark, higher/lower self, opposing astrological energies—one of its specialties is merging anima and animus, male and female. Here women learn to embrace their recessive male characteristics; men learn to integrate their recessive female traits. Issues often up for healing on Chiron are abandonment and a sense of not fitting in. Chironic occupations are hands-on healers, including the practice of medicine—especially herbalism and complementary (“alternative”) medicine— astrologers, and teachers. In the body, Chiron is associated with the hands, thighs, and the corpus collosum of the brain, the bridge between the right and left hemispheres.

Uranus - Call it Planet Free Spirit! Uranus is a place of the unexpected, breakthroughs, and sudden change. It is the opposite archetype from Saturn, which desperately wants things to remain the same. It is known for brainstorms, innovation, originality, and uniqueness. If necessity is the mother of invention, her child is Uranus, known for its revolutionary genius. Inventors, astrologers and reformers come from this planet. Here, insights, intuition, and experiments thrive. The natives are tolerant, independent, and seekers of truth. Science, technology, electricity, and communications are the industries. Often highly unusual in appearance or ideas, Uranians are the visionaries who light the fires of change, without which humanity would stagnate. In the human body, Uranus is associated with the ankles and capillaries.

Neptune - This dreamy place is the destination for inspiration, ideals, intuition, emotions, visions, hunches, and ESP. It’s not just another planet; it’s otherworldly all together. The natives ooze sympathy, compassion, sensitivity, and universal love. While mystics may be meditating on every street corner, you are likely to find plenty of substances abusers and lovers of mind-altering drugs hanging around with them—or they might be one in the same. On the fun side, Neptune is associated with movies and delicious escapism. On the downside, there are illusions, impracticality, confusion, self-pity, neuroses and other mental health challenges. People from Neptune gravitate to careers in psychology, treatment of alcohol or drug abuse, music, poetry, and other arts that translate deep personal and collective feelings—beautifully.

Pluto – Pluto is not for the feint of heart! This distant planet is the tiniest of all the wanderers in our solar system, but as anyone who has studied astrology will tell you, it packs a wallop. It is the planet of deep transformation, permanent change, death and rebirth, and endings and beginnings. On Pluto, you’ll discover your personal relationship to world events. You will meet the inner you, and if you don’t like what you see, “arrangements” will be made for you to transform yourself. If you don’t go willingly, you’ll be introduced to Darth Vader—or Tony Soprano. Pluto demands surrender. Its realm is power. Some of its associations include insurance, taxes, recycling, sexuality, group consciousness and cultural change, energy release, psychic powers, kundalini, and will. Its downside is fanaticism, compulsions, obsessions and power abuse. Pluto’s inhabitants span the very wealthy to the criminal element. One of the most archetypal Plutonian occupations is spy, but like Neptunians, these natives make great psychiatrists or anyone who does deep in-depth transformation with people. In the body, Pluto is associated with the sex organs and bowels. It may be dangerous territory, but everyone wants some of the goodies in this paragraph, especially personal power—the one thing, when achieved in a healthy way, that makes existence on any planet not only bearable but also rich.

See Your Travel Agent!

To wrap up this tour, I hope you have made your notes and are ready to dig into your astrology chart to learn more about the planets that sounded both good and terrible to you. If you’re an astrologer or seasoned astrology student, discuss your experience with colleagues or friends and enjoy the new insights about your reaction to the planets. Another idea: You can meditate on the exercise, then journal about it. Read the surprises you uncover. No doubt, those affinities or repulsions are telling you something about your chart. Some of it will be news.

If you’re a newbie to astrology or a relative newcomer and want help, astrologers are your travel agents on this space odyssey. Contact me if you need suggestions on where to find someone to work with you. And, by the way, I’ve started recently to do a limited number of astrology readings each month after a long hiatus. If you think I might be the one for you,
e-mail me. Let’s explore the possibility and maybe even the heavens together!


Photo Credit: AROUND THE SUN ©

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Chiron’s Keyword Corner: Puns

© 1993- 2009 by Joyce Mason

Puns or plays on words: Some people consider them the lowest form of humor—others, the highest.

The mere fact that people react to puns from one extreme to the other suggests they’re Chironic, for
wholeness (Chiron’s key-most word) is achieved by integrating opposites. Practitioners of paronomasia, another word for punning, get ample opportunity to do that, while their audiences react to their “routines” with anything from amusement to anguish.

In Lily Tomlin’s one-woman show, The Search for
Intelligent Life in the Universe,
her character, Trudy the Bag Lady, keeps her perspective by doing “awe-robics” daily.

Why else are puns Chironic? Because they combine many concepts associated with the centaur/comet:

~ They are a bridge between Uranus and Saturn. Especially when spontaneous, puns are lightning bolts of wit, striking and upsetting the meaning of otherwise orderly sentences. They are clear acts of rebellion in the well-kept world of “straight” communication. They usually disarm “serious types” and lighten them up, bridging the gap between heavies and those of a lighter variety. (For a brilliant discussion of Chiron and humor, read Chiron and Humour: Wounded Clowns That Heal Us by Mimi Christ.)

~ The word pun comes from the Italian term punctiglio, meaning a fine point. When a comedian, professional or otherwise, is a really good punster, he or she might elicit a response such as “you just slay me!” The pun’s piercing source word reminds me of Chiron’s wounding by a stray arrow. But even the most pointed pun isn’t lethal—it lingers like Chiron’s wound (“a real groaner").

~ Puns bring a different perspective and a maverick refusal to keep within the bounds of the Queen’s English (or the Commoner’s Everyday American). Like Chiron in its erratic orbit, puns are often somewhat unpredictable. And like those who just don’t “get” puns, Chiron goes over some people’s heads (no pun intended).

~ Puns span “the Chiron Sector” from Virgo to Sagittarius. Very Virgoan, the compulsion to create them comes from loving words. One of my favorite comedians is Virgo Lily Tomlin. In Lily’s one-woman show, her character, Trudy the Bag Lady, keeps her perspective by doing “awe-robics” daily. Puns keep people off-balance (Libra). They transform (Scorpio) through laughter (often on Scorpionic subjects, especially sex), and they often exaggerate certain words or syllables (Sagittarius). What’s more, people who like them tend to “puntificate!” If you’re into anagrams, you’ll note that the adjective Chironic contains the word ironic, which puns often are.

At least I think so, but if it turns out that my theory has a few wrinkles in it, just let me know so I can Chiron them out!

Then maybe I can take a stab at becoming Comedian of the Centaury. Unfortunately, I suspect that when it comes to fame, it’s not my cen’taur or even my 15 minutes.


Tim@awe with shopping list bullets by Joyce.

This article first appeared in the December 1993 edition of Chironicles.

Extra Pun: If you love puns, you’ll love this site! is the official site for the annual O. Henry Pun-Off in Austin, TX. Attending the Pun-Off at least once in my life is on my Bucket List. Next May 22? A Radical Virgo meet-up at the pun equivalent of the Pillsbury bake-off? Let me know if you’re in!
Update: I just got the O. Henry Museum's report of the last pun-offs winners. It says that the event started in 1977, the year of Chiron's discovery--more proof that puns are associated with Chiron!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

High Signs 3: Living on the Upside of the Zodiac

Sagittarius through Pisces

© 2009 by Joyce Mason

In Part 1 and Part 2 of High Signs, we covered Aries through Cancer, then Leo through Scorpio. The purpose of this three-part article series is to identify some of the most optimal ways to express each of the twelve signs in our charts and lives. A natural process of inner evolution reveals itself in the 12-stage cycle of the signs, as well as hints on how to break through core issues to resolution. Here's a recap of the key lessons of the signs previously covered and a preview of the final third of the zodiac wheel. These are the stages represented by each sign in the inner growth process:

Twelve Stages of Inner Growth

Aries -
Taurus -Rooting
Gemini – Growing conditions
Cancer – Seedling protection
Leo – First bloom
Virgo – Fullness of bloom
Libra – Sharing harvest
Scorpio – Harvest alchemy
Sagittarius – Teaching others how to garden and share seeds
Capricorn- Agriculture or profit from personal growth
Aquarius – Feeding the world, eliminating world hunger
Pisces – Return to seed or dormancy in preparation for a new cycle

Now we move onto the final third of the cycle from Sagittarius through Pisces.

Sagittarius – Bloomin’ Teachers

I think of Sag, given this series of inner growth metaphors, as the Johnny Appleseed of ideas who teaches best what he most needs to learn about growth and expansion—to an extreme. An armchair or actual world traveler who likes the fun side of life, some of Sag’s teaching techniques include bluntness, pontificating, and jokes (maybe at your expense). These gaffes are balanced by enthusiasm, generosity, and tendency to wax philosophical, if not spiritual. Unfortunately, Sag’s way of looking at the world is often “my way’s the right way and the only way.” As we know from tending the flowers in the pots on our porch, different species have different needs and growth requirements. Some shrivel in the sun; some need full exposure. Others are thirsty, while some species easily wilt from overwatering.

The Know It All can be demeaning. I have an older Sag relative who has literally taken things out of my hands to do it his way and often treats me like a small child when, actually, I have more diverse life experience than he does. Like Lucy in Peanuts, if he can’t be right, he’ll be wrong at the top of his lungs. (You have to laugh or pull your hair out.)

You can’t argue with the Sag lease on life—he really wants to teach you about learning and how to have a good time on life’s adventure. It’s the attitude and method of delivery that sometimes need adjustment, especially on more delicate flowers or fragile ferns.

While Sag loves to see the world, to collect and spread his ideas—a good thing on face value—deluging others with his conclusions is like overwatering certain plants or blasting them with full sun when they need part-shade. Sag has to learn what my first spiritual teacher taught me about any idea, “Take what feels right and toss the rest.” When Sag learns his receivers have a right and responsibility to accept or reject input, there can be a more fun flow of ideas exchanged, even in the fiery Sag heat of play arguments. After all, they are only ideas, which change constantly, if we really do that Sag thing and explore the entire world of ‘em. Sag reaches a higher plane when he learns not just to collect and judge ideas, but also to teach the joy of learning and growth for its own sake.

Sag teaches others how to garden and share seeds with the world.

Capricorn – The Business of Selling Yourself

No matter what business Capricorn is in, at some level she’s selling herself. Her bloomin’ spirit is what she has to offer—what she knows and can do for others in the world. Capricorn represents agriculture or making her inner growth her business.

Whether she sells stocks, personal growth seminars, houses, or hardware, Capricorn is the gardener or farmer who profits from her own knowledge and expertise. Her stumbling block is pouring herself too much into the product. That Saturn-ruled overwork and harshness on self that Capricorn is known for? It comes from the belief that she must infuse herself like a repetitive booster shot into every concept, product, and procedure and micro-manage the whole shebang. This can literally lead to very controlling behavior and over-fertilization, if you will. Worse, it’s not very good for the executive herself. She sets herself up for jangled nerves and other health risks by working too hard.

A major mental realignment that needs to take place to express Capricorn in a high way is to self-trust. You sell yourself by being yourself. There’s no need to put on the heavy sales pitch, make it hard, or dog every single nut, bolt, and ball bearing in the production process. Good management means knowing how to put your principles and personal growth bounty into a trickle-down effect that makes people work in a way that benefits the business and runs it in your style.

The upside of Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn, is sound structure. When the structure works, everything falls into place. No need to make work hard and worry about every little step. While we pair Capricorn with the 10th House and public life, the same applies to Capricorn’s personal life. Set your firm foundation, then be yourself. A solid relationship with Saturn is like a self-cleaning oven. Create a self-fulfilling business or home life with your organizational skills!

Sag teaches others how to garden. Capricorn profits from personal growth.

Aquarius – Feeding the World, Flashing on the Future

Innovative and community-oriented, most Aquarians don’t have the same concerns with the bottom line as Capricorns. They just want to eliminate world hunger, in both the literal and figurative sense, and other social inequities. The Aquarian’s lightning bolts of inspiration tell him how and what the problem looks like—solved.

That’s the pain and promise of the Aquarian visionary. Living as he does on the leading edge with a pulse to the future, he sees the best possible outcome. Aquarius may even have glimmers of what needs to be done to get there. What Aquarians are not so hot on? Process. Getting from Here to There, There being what they visualize as utopia.

If they seem flighty, unreliable, eccentric, opinionated, tactless or fickle at times, it’s just hard for them to be patient with people who are so out of it. Imagine living as they do, their highly mental capacities meeting the visual jolts of what I call “préja vue.” (That’s the opposite of déjà-vue, a preview of the future.) It’s so clear to them, these reformists who thrive on the freedom to be you ‘n’ me. (Think John Lennon's Moon in Aquarius reflected in and his consummate Aquarian song, “Imagine.”)

The last of the fixed signs, like all of them, Aquarius has to let go of something--the fast forward button. He can be the leaven in the loaf that brainstorms the new idea and catalyzes change. There are similarities with Aries—both dealing with the early stages of projects or movements—but Aquarius differs. Aries is in it for the adventure and newness; Aquarius is in it for the truth and vision. Unlike Aries, who can find his place in short-term projects or the beginnings of them, Aquarius is needed at all stages of the project, even though it can get boring and uncomfortable for him. The role of Aquarius is to hold the vision. In the nitty gritty of evolving from here to there or now to then, people need an ongoing infusion of visionary insight from the non-conformists who challenge tradition and awaken the complacent to the possibilities within the new. When the job is frustrating, their friends are their solace—especially other people with planets in Aquarius or similar astrological signatures.

Ironically, the original ruler of Aquarius was Saturn before the discovery of Uranus, its modern ruler. Making peace with Saturn, the ruler of time, is still part of the Aquarian challenge, even though Uranus keeps its electric pulse running through Aquarius like a cattle prod to shock him into his role of making change.

There are worlds to feed, humanity to evolve. Aquarius feeds the world with innovative discoveries and visions of a better tomorrow.

Pisces – Meditate, Don’t Medicate

I started this series with a quote by artist Corita Kent, comparing her High Cards to the concept of High Signs—creating a parallel to her thought about turning melodrama into a mellow drama for each sign’s expression. I’d like to end the 12-sign cycle with a quote by the poet, Rumi. I think it especially fits Pisces and this final stage:

With every breath, I plant the seeds of devotion. I am a farmer of the heart. ~ Rumi

In the twelve-phase inner growth process, Pisces goes back to seed or dormancy to await rebirth in Aries, when the cycle starts all over again. It is the phase “between worlds” where life and death merge into a process that slowly grows from one to the other. This phase of inner evolution involves feeling at one with the largest possible reality of which we are a part. Pisces is the cosmic soup. She is at home in a watery medium.

I had an interesting experience as I started to write about Pisces for this article. I was taking notes about the inner growth cycle, putting the astrological glyph next to each phase of the process in my hand scribbles. When I got to Pisces, I temporarily blanked on what the symbol looks like. I’ve been an astrologer for nearly 30 years! Was I having a dreaded senior moment--or was it my refusal to incorporate my Virgo Sun complement and some sort of Piscean prejudice rearing its ugly head?

Neither. Like the actor that becomes the character, I was the writer becoming the sign. Pisces often cannot define itself, draw itself, or extract its individuality out of the collective consciousness. In that Piscean moment, I “got” why Pisces has difficulty with boundaries and coming down to earth.

Yet, too much love of the otherworldly state takes a person from the return-to- seed stage to just plain seedy. As long as Pisces is still on earth, she has to live on solid ground. How do we minimize spaciness, escapist behavior, self-deception and a bunch of other “self” prefix words that actually aren’t self-honoring at all, such as self-pity and self-effacing? How do we shift emphasis from neuroses, substance abuse, and lack of realism or focus?

Here’s where the Rumi quote comes in. Devotion and heart—some sort of higher consciousness, spirituality, or humanitarianism—are crucial to this stage of the evolutionary cycle. The upside of Pisces couldn’t be better: sympathy, sensitivity, compassion, creativity, idealism, artistry, vision, acute intuition or psychic abilities, a person with the antennae to attract the most out of life who simply needs a filtering system to keep negative energies from flowing in with all that good.

My first spiritual teacher used to talk about how meditation builds up your aura, creating a strong energy field or buffer zone against any psychic attacks or just plain negative energy. A good prescription for Pisces is meditate, don’t medicate. Most of the action for this sign happens above ground in the ethers—but to walk the earth with any measure of success, Pisces needs to hit the restart button on the sky-to-earth and earth-to-sky interface on a regular basis. Devotions, such as yoga, meditation, dance, or prayers take the spiritual substance and bring it into physical form. Bliss! And grounding. It’s the Fish formula. Bliss and Grounding could be the name of the two fish swimming in opposite directions in the Pisces symbol.

As farmers of the heart, Pisces can plant the seed of the universal heart center connection in their devotional practices and by living their life as a prayer. That doesn’t mean being a goody two-shoes like their Virgo counterparts are sometimes known to act, but rather honing the talent to beam in and out of that state of cosmic channeling to bring the information down to share with other earthlings, including themselves, when they return to grounded consciousness. The methods are endless: humor, writing, play, music.

When Pisces protects its seeds from being washed out by too much watery behavior or substances, it begins to build up the energy it will need to burst into bloom in the next growth cycle. Pisces contains the energy, lessons, and experience of the entire 12-fold growth process. Pisces is all of us, and when she goes from sky to earth and back again in her devotions, she is the ever replenishing food supply in the biblical lesson of the loaves and fishes: feeding humanity with the soul nurturing needed for the next round on Earth—and, ultimately—for the final trip back to the stars.


Postscript: During World War I and II, citizens planted
victory gardens in private residences in the US, UK, Canada, and Germany. Victory gardens reduced pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. The gardens were also great morale boosters. Many gardeners felt empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by their homegrown produce. Victory gardens became a part of daily life on the home front.

Not only do we have our continued share of wars and situations on the brink of it on Earth at this time, the war between the darkest and lightest potentials of self-expression is likely to wage on as long as we incarnate.

There’s a parallel in the inner garden we’ve just finished planting and harvesting in the cycle of the zodiac. If we tend that garden, it’s a morale booster. It triggers a divine domino effect that ends world hunger on every level.

The most profound truths are often the simplest. Plant and tend your garden—for real or in your mind as a metaphor of your psycho-spiritual evolution. Since “as above, so below,” both would be perfect.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

High Signs 2: Living on the Upside of the Zodiac

Leo through Scorpio

© 2009 by Joyce Mason

Part 1 of High Signs, we covered Aries through Cancer. The purpose of this three-part article series is to identify some of the best ways to express each of the twelve signs in our charts and lives. As I explored the signs with this goal in mind, a natural process of inner evolution became obvious in the 12-stage cycle of the zodiac. I also began to notice key issues that, when resolved, unlock a higher expression of each sign.

To recap, the initial third of the zodiac wheel represents the following aspects of inner growth process:

~ Conception in Aries
~ Rooting in Taurus
~ Growing conditions in Gemini
~ Protection of seedlings in Cancer

Now we move onto the next third of the cycle from Leo through Scorpio—into the blooming, harvesting, and sharing phases of our growth process.

Leo – Don’t Just Catch the Rays; Channel Them

The sign of Leo brings the process of individuation to its exciting first bloom. “Look at me!” Leo says, as he exudes the rays of the Sun and selfhood with no Ray-Bans or sunscreen. It’s a sight to behold; a once drab and scrawny seedling has grown up. It has burst into vibrant color and first flower, reverberating the very Sun that helped make it so.

Here is both the danger and the cure. Leo must avoid believing she is the Sun itself with all its power—and around which the rest of us mere earthlings are lucky to revolve, if she deems us worthy. Creative spark is the ultimate drug, and if Leos hold onto the Sun energy with possessiveness, they become mean kings of the jungle: self-centered, proud, overbearing, bossy, intimidating, grandiose, and demanding of constant flattery (kiss my ring or whatever!).

To be the self-expressive, generous, vital, playful, childlike Lion to whom the rest of us don’t mind giving center stage much of the time, Leos have to let go. I know it’s a fixed sign. If you can resist so well, you can turn it around and resist doing what harms you. You can’t hold the Sun. You’ll get burned. And by the way, letting sunshine flow through you is like a fabulous energy-recycling loop. The more you let the sun come through you without clutching it, the more others beam back your solar energy, recharging your batteries and sense of connection to the sun in the sky. (If we could bottle the beams from all Leos in the world, there would never be an energy crisis. One of my favorite Leos always says she’s sending me “sparkles.” They truly energize!)

Leo brings the inner growth cycle to first bloom, the one that’s most impressive in contrast to the previous stages of seed, seedlings and budding. Leo assures us there’s been a whole lot of energetic shakin’ goin’ on beneath the surface, and now you can see it in living color.

Virgo – Bloomin’ Complete (Well, Almost … )

If Leo is the first bloom of the flower of inner growth, Virgo takes the bloom to fullness and the edge of harvest. Perhaps the Virgo obsession with perfection comes from an innate sense of this “last chance” before the flower is picked, the grain is harvested—choose your favorite plant allusion—and his true usefulness falls into the hands of others in the second half of the zodiac from Libra onward.

Virgo is the last chance for self-possession. (See
The Radical Virgo and Wholeness and the Inner Marriage.) If some of the Virgos you know seem a little control freakish to you at times, they are simply worried that the growing season ends and soon the harvest will be upon us. Virgo is the sign of late summer. Virgos see all they could be—and want it!

To express Virgo in a higher way, the Virgin flower has to tune back into life’s cyclical nature with a view from the mountaintop. You don’t get just one season or one lifetime to become the best you. You get seasons and lifetimes. Don’t make everyone miserable with nitpicky perfectionism, faultfinding, and slavery to jobs or service in an “off” attempt to grasp the usefulness of your Self that you fear you will lose control of, starting in Libra. Helping others is Virgo’s prescience of the next season and sign, but unless you are also blooming your Self, you will have defeated your purpose to be the best you—this time around.

Leo brings the inner growth cycle to first bloom; Virgo completes the blooming before harvest.

Libra –Beauty and the Bounty, Share But Eat Something Yourself First

At the Autumn Equinox, when the sign of Libra starts, we begin the process of sharing the wealth of the inner growth process. No man is an island, and once a person has fully bloomed the Self in Virgo, it is time to share the bounty with another in Libra.

The wheat, grain, or flowers are weighed on Libra’s scales of balance. She hopes for beauty, harmony, justice, and pleasure from her interactions, the fruits of others’ growing. If it starts with “co,” she’s “in”—cooperate, coexist, codepend.

Therein lies the rub, a sign so focused on harvesting others’ gifts, he often forgets who he is. Dependence on approval and the need to partner in all things leads to imbalance, indecisiveness (what will she think?), fawning behavior, and a rash of inconsistencies that can be maddening to the other he is trying not to alienate. Too often, he succeeds just the same. A Libra out of balance is a scary thing.

How to avoid tipping the scales? One plus one equals two. You can’t co-create without maintaining the individuality that is part of the 1+1 = 2 equation. Libra easily falls prey to the misconception that she can rest on her inner growth laurels and coast, now that two have become one. Mergers must create synergy to survive and thrive. This does not occur when Self is absorbed into Other, but rather when two selves interact and create a constant growth dynamic. I suspect the legendary Libra laziness is merely this misconception. If you love relationship as much as you claim, Libra, don’t forget to bring your Self forward—the previous lesson of Virgo. Then Us will rock in a whole new way, where pairing is a preference and vibrant, not a fix.

Inner growth cycle recap: Leo brings the inner growth cycle to first bloom; Virgo completes the blooming before harvest. Libra harvests and shares the beauty and bounty of the inner growth crop.

Scorpio – Chemistry Experiments, But Don’t Blow Up the Lab

Like Libra, Scorpio is an autumnal and “other” sign, one of deep merger and mining the mysteries of life. Scorpio doesn’t take the blooms of others just at face value. She finds out how to mix them up in her chemistry lab to create new by-products, often explosions that run the gamut of pain and pleasure. Then, she might even transmute them into gold.

Scorpio seeks to merge and meld into the other’s experience to see how it can transform them both. It is the alchemical mixing of two selves into Love Potion #9—or whatever happens to come out of the mix.

Much like Leo’s Sun fix, this is potent energy—pure power formed in dark places and so electrifying and life-creating, possessiveness and compulsiveness can take over like a bad spell. The image that comes to mind is Dr. Frankenstein raising the monster to the skies for a lightning bolt of life.

Now, not all Scorpios are mad scientists. Some don’t even obsess over people, but rather work, causes, or other power rides that get their juices flowing. Still, the science metaphor stands. Scientists must remain objective and at least somewhat detached from the outcome of their experiments or the results are biased and invalid. To insist on the outcome of the trial (you will love me or else!) is not exactly good science or good romantic chemistry. Like the other fixed signs, there is a letting go required that is the antithesis of what feels natural to a Scorpio clinging for dear life to his beloved or project.

The saying comes to mind (paraphrased), If you love someone (or something), let it go and if they really belong to/with you, they’ll come back on their own. Of course, you’ve probably heard the less than evolved Scorpionic response to that old saw:
And if they don’t come back, I’ll hunt them down, drag them back, and kill them.

You cannot own the life force. The force must flow through you and those who enter your orb of influence, similar to the Leo admonition not to hold onto the Sun. Whether it’s the Sun or the lab chemicals of love or other volatile combinations, burn happens if you clutch them. Scorpio’s realm, from high to low, is the stuff of magic and medicine—or explosive Pluto-nium. Birth, death, sexuality—Scorpio’s realms are the ultimate extreme of matters that matter most. The life force that joins you willingly creates a powerful resonance for you and everyone in your sphere. Otherwise, you’re living on the Death Star.

Scorpio is the part of the inner growth cycle where we don’t just mix the flowers of self with those of another to form a bouquet. Here we understand the pure creative potential of combining energies to form something bigger and synergistically more potent. This is the same alchemy that will turn plants into medicine or other powerful products. It benefits not just the donors, but has the potential to change everyone and everything their merger touches.

Final recap: Leo brings first bloom; Virgo completes the blooming before harvest. Libra harvests and shares the beauty and bounty of the self-development crop. Scorpio combines energies to make medicine and other potent by-products of energetic mergers.


Next week: High Signs, Part 3: Sagittarius through Pisces and conclusion of the series.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

High Signs 1: Living on the Upside of the Zodiac

Aries through Cancer

© 2009 by Joyce Mason

One of my all-time favorite artists is
Corita Kent, a former Catholic nun whose pop artwork was very “inspirational ‘60s.” She wove words and color together in a rainbow of good causes: the women’s movement, the peace movement, and the love and joy movement—the movement that’s timeless. (Here’s a short film clip that gives an animated tour in a minute and a half about the difference she made.) Corita literally made peace and love signs.

My closest connection to Corita was through her High Cards. They were some of her best poster-like art on colorful half-page postcards. I still treasure my High Cards, which are older than dirt and have accumulated their share of actual dirt from well-worn reading and display in my office for encouragement.

One of the High Cards I love best is black and white and says:

“Change your melodrama into a mellow drama.” – Corita Kent
Since The Radical Virgo advocates evolutionary astrology where each person becomes all he or she was meant to be in optimal self-expression, I thought I’d take page out of Corita’s book and offer some “high ideas” on how that would look on each of the signs of the zodiac. My article, The Radical Virgo, does that in detail for the Virgo, but how about the complete set of twelve? Each sign can choose mellow drama instead of melodrama, high sign or low sign.

Learning the potentials of the 12 prototypes is a life-long quest—a conversation we can never have too often or stop exploring in depth—because the zodiac signs are the foundation of the astrological alphabet and our sky-to-earth understanding.

Here are my thoughts on how the High Signs would look from A(ries) to P(isces). We are living organisms. It's no surprise that an inner growth cycle emerges from the zodiac that largely parallels plant growth. Most of us know the popular saying, paraphrased in several biblical passages and more recently made popular by artist
Mary Engelbreit: “Bloom where you are planted.” The seeds of our personalities are indeed sown in the signs of the zodiac. We are responsible for tending them like good gardeners for the best yield and quality of crop.

To keep this meaty but to avoid overwhelm, we’ll take this tour around the zodiac in three posts. Today, #1: Aries through Cancer. In the next two weeks, #2 – Leo through Scorpio; and finally, #3 - Sagittarius through Pisces.

Aries Firestorm – Controlled Burn and Renewal

What boundless energy! This person’s creativity is on fire. (My friend,
Pop Art Diva, has Aries Moon, and I swear that woman draws and doodles in her sleep! She is an artist whose productivity and non-stop creative flow boggle the imagination.)

Some of the most exciting qualities of this sign are self-starting, adventurous, and courageous. Aries is the spring seed energy, the Get Up and Go of Life. This Mars-ruled sign needs action! When qualities of impulsiveness, hotheadedness, need to win at all costs, and self-centeredness can be contained like a controlled burn or burned off to leave their tempered complement, Aries begins to evolve to its highest calling—conception. Aries is a think tank, not a bureaucrat. This soul does its most sacred work scattering the seeds of new life and belongs in places where he contributes to constant new beginnings. When Aries is being himself, his mantra is, be-gin. A starter more than a finisher, Aries is most at home in the exciting first stages of a business, project, or relationship. Projects that are short from conception to fruition are his forte.

Obviously, to succeed in certain areas of life, especially relationship; you can’t be just a starter. You need to be in it for the long haul. At her best, Aries finds a way to create constant renewal in all areas of life. Very appealing to Ram-mates who might dig the continuous honeymoon possibilities!

Taurus – Dirt Revels

What on earth do I mean by that? Taurus revels in the upside of the Earth element (dirt)—the beauty of nature, physicality, sensuousness, and all the resources money can buy. The Bull’s steady, persistent nature allows him or her to acquire a lot of goodies.

As a Taurus evolves, she lets go of materialistic tendencies, realizing that if you clutch dirt, you just get your hands dirty. Learning to let go of possessiveness also goes for people and relationships. I love that Earth Day occurs when the Sun is in Taurus. This holiday is a reminder to let go of concern about greenbacks and, instead, to let in the green all around us. Taurus “rising,” as in evolving, comes to terms with the psycho-spiritual aspects of abundance. He is in the constant flow of prosperity and does not need to be possessive or obsessive about security.

This Venus-ruled sign must be surrounded by beauty, especially nature. Often artistic with an eye for color, if the Aries conceives, Taurus takes root. Using steadfastness and her love of the good things in life, this sign sends out deep taproots of living abundance. Earthy, in deed!

Gemini—Making Friends with the Not So Evil Twin

How does a Gemini overcome talking too much, being scattered, distracted, restless or who has trouble following through? She takes her duality and makes it her friend. There are two Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, male and female. We often joke about Gemini’s split personality, but as Gemini evolves, she makes it a good thing. If her mental high energy causes her fuss or fidget, the other twin can put an arm around her shoulder, like a loving but firm mom, and say, “Sweetheart, you’ve got to knock it off.” This sign, more than most, has the capacity to get outside itself to observe itself. Gemini is an air sign ruled by Mercury. The trick is to make friends with both twins and a pact that they’re going to work together to channel all that airy, Mercurial energy before it blows them away like so much dandelion fluff.

I have a favorite image from an old childhood cartoon. It showed, arguing repeatedly, an angel and devil on the shoulder of the main character (who must have been a Gemini!). The angel was arguing for the high road; the devil, of course, voted for the self-serving pleasure of the moment. Gemini is facile with our greatest tool, the mind, which can be an angel of positive manifestation or the devil that takes us to hell in a hand basket, if not managed.

The Twins working as a team with Gemini’s Higher Self can take him and his mind to full expression of his charms: spontaneous, innovative, alert, energetic, and unbiased. With his intellectual and logical mind, he can grow not just in the ability to think, but also in the joy of true knowledge. He can become an authority, not just a dabbler.

Lastly, as a purveyor of possibilities, Gemini shows us all the ways the wind could blow. This is a critical next step in the psycho-spiritual growth process that parallels nature. In Aries, the creation is conceived; in Taurus, it takes root. In Gemini, we assess atmospheric growing conditions that influence how our plant will flourish.

Cancer: Feelers, Not Tentacles

The Moon-Ruled Cancer makes me think about how the much of the human body is made up of water—
55-60 %. Think of the Moon’s gravitational pull on the tides. No wonder emergency rooms overflow with physical and mental crises at the Full Moon! By definition, Cancer is more sensitive—even hypersensitive—to the forces of nature around her. How does she go from clingy, moody, self-indulgent, hoarding, and gluttonous to the high ground of receptivity, devotion, protection, positive changeability, and imaginative intuition?

The key is how she chooses to create a safe container. Whether it’s her home/nest or a the vision of a crystal bowl that holds her psyche, Cancer’s bowl or cup must contain her considerable water without spillage and leave her reflective and receptive without undue fear.

Cancers find security in being held, both literally and figuratively. That can be in her home, her psychic container, or a relationship with someone she trusts. All these things keep Cancer’s nurturing from running all over the place. Leaking the waters of Self are what leads to the clutchy, smothering behavior for which some Cancers are infamous. She wants to be held to get a hold of her feelings.

When Cancer puts attention on this key issue, she has created an incubator or greenhouse for her Self. In the psycho-spiritual growth process, we have gone from conception in Aries, to rooting in Taurus, and attention to weather and growth conditions in Gemini. Now, in Cancer, we have the flowerbed, row or container garden for seedling protection.

Next: High Signs, Part 2: Leo through Scorpio


Learn more about Sr. Corita’s work in this video by LA Curator Aaron Rose who calls her art “radical, political graffiti” and captures it in this clip from her
Passion for the Possible exhibit.

Corita Kent's birth data: 20-Nov-1918 in Ft. Dodge, IA. Time unknown.