Tuesday, March 26, 2013

April: Announcing Astro-Poetry Month on The Radical Virgo

Dear Radical Readers,

Poetry has always been interspersed on The Radical Virgo because it’s my first writing genre and a life-long love. As noted in my e-book, Poems to Heal the Healer, with Chiron in Pisces, poetry is even more healing than usual. (Poetry was my therapist for many years.)

I thought you might enjoy a preview of an astrological poetry, prayer and meditation collection I’m working on, slowly but surely. You won’t see Earth to Sky as a complete volume anytime soon. Poetry can’t be pushed.  Inspirations to put my relationship with the planets into verse come whenever they feel like it. The poetry muses are terribly mutable.

Especially since it’ll be awhile, I thought I’d share some of the poems now during spring, a time many people feel life’s poetry more than any other season. I’d also like to get a feel for how you’d like this type of book. I welcome your Comments. I’ll publish one or more poems a week during April.

If you like my poetry, Poems to Heal the Healer: The 12 Chiron Signs is still available in PDF. You can purchase it on the sidebar. There’s also more poetry, most of them not on astrological subjects but often spiritual, on my poetry blog, Stitched Verse.

Meanwhile, enjoy the upcoming poetry reading on The Radical Virgo.

Every blessing,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spring Equinox: Come On, Baby, Light My Fire!

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Spring and the sign of Aries blast into our lives in a way that does justice to the expression “living out loud.” Buds burst, light sings, the sap rises in trees and we ditch our winter slump for a love affair with high energy.

If this sounds somewhat like overdoing the happy dance because you just got a Get Out of Jail Free card, there’s some mythical truth to the matter. From a symbolic standpoint, spring is more like a season’s pass from Hell. Here’s how the story goes.

Spring Mythology

Long ago in a place far away that may have never existed, but is none the less true for its core wisdom: Demeter, the goddess of crops and harvest (the asteroid Ceres in astrology), bore a daughter with Zeus, king of the gods. The daughter’s name was Persephone. One day Persephone was out gathering wild flowers when she was abducted by Hades—better known to us in his astrological persona as Pluto. Hades took Persephone to be his lover and queen in the Land of the Dead. (Not hard to see the parallels to an unevolved Scorpio and why Hades gets my nomination for patron sinner of stalkers.)

Demeter roams the land, trying to find her lost daughter.  Ultimately, she encounters Hecate, one of the original witchy women, who advises her to go to Helios, the Sun, to find out if he saw who snatched Persephone. All is revealed in the light of day, and Helios names Hades as the perpetrator.

Naturally, Demeter pleads with Zeus to do something. He is the chief god, and as incest-laden mythology would have it, Zeus is also Demeter and Hades’ brother. (Throw sibling rivalry into this soap opera.) Zeus refuses to intervene, and Demeter, righteously angry, refuses in turn to perform her duties as crop goddess. Famine threatens extinction of the human race.

The next bit of the story, typical of legends, has a couple of different versions. One is that Zeus finally intervenes and forces Hades to give up Persephone. In another, Demeter bargains for her daughter’s release. [1] (I like the latter because it empowers Demeter as the only person I know of in the myths who deals with that devil and at least cuts a compromise.)

Once reunited, Demeter asks if Persephone ate anything in the underworld. She admits to having consumed a pomegranate seed. This act links her permanently to the Land of the Dead, where she is destined to spend part of each year as Hades’ wife. During the time she’s gone, Demeter mourns and the crops go barren. Thus we have the cycle of growth, harvest, winter—and the joy of all nature welcoming Persephone back each spring.

Spring Fire

After revisiting this tale, it’s easy to understand why, in the perfection of nature, the cycle of the Sun through the zodiac begins with the first fire sign, Aries. It’s as though Persephone brings with her a little bit of hellfire without the damnation. (That comes later when she has to go back to the underworld.)

Carl Jung associated the astrological element fire with intuition. Fire is the life force rising up in us. It gives us warmth, comfort and literal fire cooks our food. [2] Man’s discovery of fire was one of the most important moments in human evolution. It changed the human course forever. Fire’s awesome power is recognized in another myth, that of Prometheus. He is punished horribly for stealing fire from the gods and is associated with the planet Uranus. As we evolve, we better harness our own inner warmth and fire to strengthen our own self-confidence and to share our ideas and creativity. It takes an initial act of rebellion to snatch some fire for ourselves and not let the jealous gods horde it --and lord it over us. After all, it’s the life force itself. It belongs to everyone, like the sun, stars and sky.


It’s the Natural New Year, the first—and in some ways the most important—of the Cardinal Turning Points. Here are some past posts with poems, ceremonies and things to ponder to kick off your New Year with some firecrackers of inspiration and meaning:

In his book, The Inner Sky, astrologer Stephen Forrest talks about the Sign of the Spring Equinox and Aries’ psychological association with the development of courage. [3] Behind every Aries Warrior is someone working on getting up the guts to do something. If the Aries you know seem more courageous than most, it’s only because they’ve been working on it since Day 1.

This is the time of year for all of us to screw up our courage and become more Aries- like—to be Life Warriors, rushing headlong into new adventures, taking risks and starting the New Year off boldly. Burst out of your winter eggshell and fly into spring like a firecracker, tail afire!

Happy Rebirthday, All!

Photo Credit: © Jürgen Fälchle - Fotolia.com


  1. Myths and Legends: The Yearly Agricultural Cycle http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/a/mythslegends_2.htm
  2. The Four Elements in Astrology by Bonnie Moss http://www.astrostar.com/Four-Elements.htm
  3. Forrest, Steven, The Inner Sky, Seven Paws Press: 2007, p. 42.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Tail of the Fish

 Pondering the Last Days of Pisces

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

In a previous article, The Winter Signs, I referred to the Sun’s sojourn in Pisces as “the dark of the Sun,” parallel to the “dark of the Moon.” This refers especially to the last days before the Sun cycle starts over. The “tail end” of this finishing period is the last week, especially the last few days of the sign. Pisces is the last sign of the zodiac the Sun passes through as winter turns into spring. This passage reminds me of the dark of the Moon where the Moon disappears from visible sight as she wanes to apparent nothingness. The New Moon is born as the Sun and Moon invisibly mate or conjoin at the same degree of the zodiac. (Call it my bawdy Jupiter-in-Scorpio sense of humor, but apparently there are celestial bodies, as well as some humans, that would rather “do it in the dark.”)

The concept of late-Pisces as the “dark of the Sun” refers to the last days of the darker half of the year. That’s the larger metaphor. By the time we get to the Tail of the Fish or the end of Pisces in the Northern latitudes, light is actually increasing till light and dark are equal at Spring Equinox. The literal dark of the Sun, when there is the least daylight, is celebrated at the pagan festival, Samhain. Astrologically, Samhain actually occurs at the midpoint of Scorpio (15°) on November 7th, which is the cross quarter between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice, as light fades and we work our way to the darkest day in the Northern Hemisphere on Winter Solstice. [1]

When the Sun is in the last days of Pisces, we are experiencing the swan song and final bow of its complete 360-degree cycle, the ending before the new beginning of the natural New Year at Spring Equinox. Like the Moon’s light appears to increase and decrease in the sky, the Sun travels through the zodiac in waxing and waning overall light of day. A figurative spotlight, dimmed during winter, now slowly increases in brightness as one year exits, stage left. Now the spotlight shines on the New Year. This moment of literal, equal light (equinox) has been building since dark was at its fullest at Winter Solstice. We’re on the cusp of the light half of the cycle, until the light begins to dim again at Autumn Equinox. The end of Pisces is the end of the darker half of the hemi-cycle.

Late Pisces: What can we do with this sacred cusp of the entire Solar cycle, this end-beginning, presented to us only once a year?

For hints, I thought I’d delve into the waters of Pisces’ mythology. While accounts vary, they merge into a single legend.

In the Greek myth, a monster named Typhon descends on Mount Olympus. He threatens the gods and goddesses, and most of them flee. As Typhon nears, the goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros (also known as Venus and Cupid in the Roman myths) are looking for an escape route.

Here come the variances: Either Aphrodite and Eros turn into two fish or two fish approach them and swim them away to safety. Another version: They turn into fish and two other fish take them to safety. The common denominator: two fish. These two fish were honored by being placed in the constellation Pisces. (Whether the Pisces pair were Aphrodite and Eros or their rescuers is left up to individual interpretation.) Most legends say the tails of the fish were tied together so they wouldn’t lose each other. [2] [3]

The punch line is that salvation comes from tying our tails together. It is attachment that saves Eros and Aphrodite, symbols of love and the heart. The last days of Pisces invite us to review our attachments and mergers and willingness to let go of that safe togetherness to individuate again, as we touch Aries, the Sign of Me and the cusp of spring. It’s easy to see why the Sun is exalted in Aries, as Aries is the beginning of the Sun’s annual transit through the zodiac. [4] When the Sun is in Aries, this expression is literal: Let’s begin at the beginning.

Tips for the Tail

1. Ponder how you’re tied to others. Can you cut loose some of these chords to grow more into who you are this spring? 

2. Give yourself some down time to restore your energetic reserves. You’ll need a new surge of energy to meet the bursting vitality of all nature, human and otherwise, that invigorating characteristic of spring.

3. Your psyche needs transition to cushion the shock of the seasonal shift from Pisces (the Sign of All and No Me) to Aries (the Sign of Aries and All Me and of venturing out on your own). These seasons are vastly different from one other. Some suggestions:
  • A - Try a musical segue. You can begin slowly shifting your musical selections from those that reflect a gentler, Piscean quality to those with a more vigorous Aries-like flavor. Example: You might listen to less New Age, Classical or soft music and start shifting to more energizing genres, such as contemporary rock or jazz, music with a dance beat that your body can’t resist moving to.
  • B - Meditate more often to raise your energy to the extroverted resonance it will need come March 19.

  • C - Do some guided imagery around the idea that you’re a seed, still under the earth, ready to sprout with one energetic push into visibility. How does this idea fit your life? You can journal about it or make notes on your recorder. Maybe a poem or song will emerge out of this exercise—or an idea for the birth of a new project on the equinox.
 4.  Your body needs transition, too—probably more than just the rest suggested in #2. Take immune support herbs or vitamins to prepare your body for Aries action. My bible on this subject is Staying Healthy with the Seasons by Elson Haas, M.D. Just as we do spring cleaning in our homes, Dr. Haas is big on a spring fast and personal cleanse. His master cleanser is a combo of lemon or lime juice, maple syrup,  and a dash of cayenne pepper in spring water. It’s the only thing that’s kept me fasting as long as three days. Besides elimination, other big themes are exercise, veggies and a big dollop of enthusiasm.

       5. Indulge the last of your positive addictions that border on too much, whether it’s too much TV, losing yourself in books, meditation or music—or extended days of passion, one of the most enjoyable examples of Neptunian merging. If you’re in sync with the seasons, you are likely to have less time for these indulgences in the months to come. Savor them in their season and be willing to let go of focusing on them for a slightly different balance come spring.  

6. As much as possible, do nothing. (For some of us, that is a state of being we’ve rarely tried.) We are called human beings, not human doings. There is no time of year where it’s more appropriate for you to “just be.”   

7. Do some “Pisces things” to celebrate the last of this season that evokes our place in the Cosmic Soup and our ease in tapping collective consciousness. Write a poem, make a drawing, paint your feelings, write a song. (See #3C for a possible stimulus.) Let yourself channel whatever muses and inspirations flow through you.

      8.  Revisit your planets in Pisces and Aries and how you relate to them. If you don’t have any planets in these signs, look at where they fall on your house cusps or add some asteroids, centaurs, fixed stars or other bodies into the mix to help you reveal anew your relationship to the Fish and Ram. You’re surely to have at least one of those in these signs. While you’re at it, imagine you’re a shape shifter morphing from a fish to a ram. What would that feel like? Bring that visceral experience into your chart interpretation. Any new insights?

9.  Revisit your relationship to your spirituality. This will be your subconscious, inner buoy as you leave the ocean of Pisces and launch into the fire of Aries, waving your sword of Self, putting these concerns more in the backseat. It’s good for them to be backseat drivers!

      10.  Do the same rituals recommended for Winter Solstice, especially if you didn’t do them then. Winter Solstice marks the cusp of the reflective season of winter. The last days of Pisces mark the end of that reflective time. Rituals to acknowledge your accomplishments, the Ceremony of Recognition, and Burning the Old things you want to get rid of in your life are still appropriate at the winter-to-spring new beginning. It’s the cusp of the New Year when all nature sings—but instead of Auld Lang Syne, the song’s Another Opening, Another Show!

The more we’re in sync with the seasons and the natural world of which we’re part, the more we hum in harmony within the web of life. Flowing well with these annual changes increases our personal flexibility. It  helps us handle better the bigger changes the outer planets bring, such as the transformational agenda of the current Uranus-Pluto square.

A blessed winter into spring!


Photo Credit: © Crystal | fotolia.com


  1. Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve: http://www.revradiotowerofsong.org/samhain2012.html 
  2. The Mythology of Pisces: http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/mythology-of-pisces.html
  3. Oddly, the cord attaching the two fish by the tails has faded from most modern renditions of the Pisces Fish. There are a couple of excellent examples of artwork in Reference 2 where the cord is shown.
  4. Why is the Sun Exalted  in Aries? http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20101212052612AAf6cdI

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Your Relationship with Astrology

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

For many of you reading this article, your relationship with astrology is a long-term love affair. Mine, so far, has been life-long, except for the brief time I was not exposed to the subject in the earliest years of my life. That was, at most, my first 10 years, give or take a little. I think I’ve known since puberty that I have Virgo Sun. (Funny how hormones always enter in, even to this affair! And, no doubt, knowing I had the sign of a Virgin helped me stay that way during the days when Catholic School converged with awakening sexual chemistry.)  My curiosity and reading about astrology piqued from that point forward. It started with how I resonated to descriptions of Virgo, especially in Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, until I began formal studies in 1981. Astrology has been part of my life in one form or another ever since. 

Like any long-term relationship, astrology needs to be nurtured and its place in your life is likely to change over time. 

Sometimes you and astrology will get along famously. Other times, your relationship will be rocky, when your brain doesn’t feel like it can grasp what the stars are trying to tell you in this technique or that. Another stage may include an Astro-fast, because all that analysis is fogging your brain. You may have times when your star watching is mostly private and possibly quite introspective; others where you crave astrological community and will thrive on the common language, world view and friendships astrology provides. You may crave to be a teacher, leader or contributor to that community, or you might be content to be a perpetual student. Some people prefer to be an occasional partaker or even a toe-in-the-water sideliner.

Before I go much further into the care and keeping of your long-term relationship with astrology, I’d like to share why I think it’s such a great partner. First, it’s fascinating and a great conversationalist. It speaks to you from the vast variety of charts you can cast. It’s always got something to say like a chatty Gemini.

Second, astrology is so multi-layered and deep. You can know it from a passing interest to inside out, from dabbler to student, to student at ever higher levels, to professional continuously reaching for more layers of understanding and sharing them. Your range of possible participation is vast, and astrology will not be upset with you if you don’t propose marriage. It’s just as happy to be studied as taught, to be with you in the getting-acquainted stages or in depth. Since astrology explores human behavior, it can be as light as it’s deep. Astrology has a great sense of humor as long as its lover has the eyes to see it and the ears to hear the cosmic jokes.

Third, because of its multi-layered and complex nature, astrology has the capacity to keep you intrigued and interested as long as you want it in your life; at whatever level you want it.
I don’t know about you, but many people would give their right arm for a lover with these qualities.

The heart of this discussion isn’t for dabblers; it’s for those who can’t live without astrology—or at least those who don’t want to. With that desire to relate to it long-term, here are some tips to bear in mind to make the relationship happy, productive and seasoned with joy.

Ten Astro-Tips for the Long-Term

  1. Reassess, periodically, where you are in your relationship with astrology. Is it comfortable? Does anything cry for change?
  2. Know that shifting the level at which you participate is not throwing out the baby with the bath water, especially when you opt for something less intense for the time being; you’re simply responding to where astrology fits into your life now.

  3.  Let astrology enhance your life rather than living for astrology—or living your life so much by astrology that you shut out other helpful perspectives. Fanaticism leads to burnout and estrangement, just like the man or woman who comes on too strong and causes you to back off or even run. If you don’t want to lose astrology; give it some space.

  4.   Don’t waste time or energy trying to sell astrology to others, especially when you’re in a more zealous stage of working with and living by it. There are plenty of people who already embrace astrology who can parlez star-talk with you. Let others see how astrology works for you and come to you with their curiosity.

  5.  It’s OK if your boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, wife or husband doesn’t give a rip about astrology. (My husband is barely curious.) All that’s important is that those who love you support you and respect your beliefs. As in #4, there are plenty of people willing to communicate about the sky-to-earth interface. Couples don’t have to do everything together—unless you both have stelliums in Libra! (I take that back. In that case you need to give doing everything together a rest more than anyone.)
  6. Vacations from astrology are healthy. Just like all relationships, it’s good to get away from each other once in a while. Absence is likely to make the heart grow fonder. (It has on my breaks from astrology.)

  7. Some of the best astrologers I know are happy being perpetual students. They know as much and more than many teachers, yet they often have no aspirations to teach or lead. While there’s nothing wrong with encouraging them to step up to share their knowledge in community, don’t push it. (I’ve certainly done that almost to the point of being that wonderful Yiddish word for pest, a noodge.)  Student may be the relationship with astrology that’s right for those individuals. I remember as a kid; I quit Scouting before I “flew up” from Brownie to Girl Scout. Yet my husband still calls me a Girl Scout for my tendency to play by the rules (in his opinion, too much) and God knows I overlearned the motto “be prepared” between Scouting and Virgoing! Not everyone has to “go higher,” or what others perceive to be a runged ladder to learning or achievement. Some people get the principles they need to know at the earlier steps. Give people the space to have whatever relationship with astrology that’s comfortable for them. Do the same for yourself.

  8.  Keep the romance in your relationship with astrology, as in any other love affair. (That may or may not mean literally finding love at astrology events!) When it comes to where and how you relate to astrology, mix it up a little, just like a variety of activities and approaches keeps love fresh between couples. There are so many ways you can court this particular lover: reading, attending classes, going to conferences, enrolling in a more formal astrology school in person or online or participating in virtual or live discussion groups. NCGR and other organizations have certification programs, if you’re really ready to “get engaged.”

  9. Find some rituals that keep your heartbeat in sync with astrology. It may be looking at your chart in a bi-wheel with transits or checking your ephemeris every morning--or reading a bit of an astrological article or book every day. I say this because close relationships revolve around rituals, which are habits, brought to a higher level of whole-i-ness. I’ve observed something that rocked my world for the big aha it gave me. I noticed the people I know whose marriages occurred under Virgo Sun often have long-term, happy relationships. What does Virgo do, probably better than any other sign? Habits. Marriage revolves around habits and rituals—the good morning kiss, sharing meals together, dividing the housekeeping duties—in my husband’s and my case (married under Virgo), saying I love you at least once a day. Taking joy in a habit raises it to ritual, the same thing we call repeated activities in a religious or spiritual context. Now going from the sublime to the ridiculous, this brings me to my final tip:
  10. Always have fun with it. Do you want to have a relationship with a sourpuss? With someone who always takes things too seriously? I know them and you know them; the people who don’t have an ounce of humor in their approach to astrology. Remember that your relationship to astrology is reflective of you, probably even more than relationships with live people. A humorless approach to this lover will make your relationship dull and dreary—and over time, tedious. If you don’t already know this quotation by the wonderful memoir writer, Anne Lamott, you might want to post it on your computer or create a bookmark with the quote to use with your astrology books: “Laughter is carbonated holiness.” Combining this idea with #9, the best habit you can bring to your relationship with astrology is a good sense of humor.

A Few Case Studies

Here are a few instances where I’ve seen some of these principles at work:
  • I’ve known astrologers who have given it up because of a new religious or spiritual path they were exploring, where the tenets of their faith considered astrology wrong. (In the cases I know of, they all came back to astrology.) 
  • An excellent astrologer friend of mine is in a phase of life where he has to focus on making a living. He’s working so hard; he has no time to follow astrology except for an awareness of the planetary positions related to his own chart. He’s a professional who hasn’t done readings in some years, because he simply has no time for it. I’m sure he’ll be back at a different level when he retires.
  • Like my friend above, I spent a number of years doing astrology primarily for myself and those closest to me for tending other areas of my life. My relationship to astrology was much more private during that time, not public. I’m entering a phase now where, because of many other priorities, I want to be more a learner than a teacher and leader. In the past, this would have made me worry that astrology and I were falling out of love. Now I know that it’s just another phase of our enduring relationship.

Off to a Good Star

Just as comedian Stephen Colbert doesn’t pronounce the “t” in either his surname or in the second word in the name of his political satire show, The Colbert Report, I hope this article gives you a good star—and start—on your periodic review of your relationship with astrology. Where are we? is a question we have to ask in our human relationships to give to and get the most from them.

Same goes for this wonderful art/science that so often guides us in optimizing our own growth and expansion of our relationships.

Photo Credit: © Denis Zaporozhtsev - Fotolia.com