Monday, May 30, 2016

Insights and Metaphors for Retrogrades

If there’s not one retrograde lately, there’s a handful. The current trio is Mars, Saturn and Pluto. (Mercury’s most recent retro ended on May 22.) During the course of 2016, six planets are, have been or will be retrograde. I love the recap on Astrology King by Jamie Partridge with pictures, short names for each Retro, and their dates. You can click for in-depth analysis of each cycle, as well.

Two metaphors keep coming to mind as my friends and I have coped with this combined energy, an energy that seems to push us two steps backwards before the next step forward. Sometimes it feels like trying to jog, knee-deep in mud.

The first metaphor is about seeds. Like plants, trees and flowers, our manifestations grow from seeds of desire and intention. In a sometimes painful parallel, you don’t see much going on at the surface for a long time. It takes literal or figurative spring before sprouts break through the top of the soil and there’s any evidence that the seeds, desires or intentions are beginning to manifest. Once you get a green glimmer, you can visualize the sprouts turning into plants, flowers, trees, projects, a new or improved relationship--or change of habit. It’s when you’re looking at nothing for long periods of time that gets old. Enormous faith in the cycles of life is required to keep from driving yourself crazy with how long our intentions can sometimes take to “cook.” We have to believe what we’ve sown will sprout in its own time. If it doesn’t, the seed may be a dud. Maybe we have to rethink whether it’s still the right plant for us or if we need to replant it—perfect activities for Mercury and Mars Retrograde. (The next Mercury Retrograde is August 30 – September 22.)

“Consider that in astrology Aries is that spark in each of us that gets our engines running. But like the Hare in Aesop's fable, "The Tortoise and the Hare", Aries loves the race but can be easily distracted, Aries is not about winning or the prize, it's about starting. And that's why we need Taurus. Taurus, like the Tortoise, lacks the spark at the beginning, but has endurance and always keeps his eyes on the prize.”

~ Patricia Lanz,

The second metaphor is the Tortoise and Hare fable. I wondered if anyone had seen the astrological implications that I saw in it. When I searched, I found the wonderful article cited above by Patricia Lanz. She’s a favorite Astro-writer of mine, and I encourage you to read it and get to know her, if you don’t already. Western culture is very Aries, even if you don’t have a single planet in the sign. (See God is Not an Aries.) Manifestation, however, takes time. In the long-run, it’s the Tortoise who wins—not the Hare. Though as Patricia points out, you need that shot of Aries to get started. No one understands that better than me with Taurus Rising. If I don’t get that cup of leaded, I’ll never get going and spend the entire day in a fog. Coffee stokes my Aries fire.

What does this mean as we all slog through thick energy that feels like it’s pulling us backwards?

Retrogrades are a time to hone your faith in the process of life. The repetition and surety of cycles is what astrology is all about. They are also times to re-examine about how we fit into that process.

Growing up Catholic in the 1950s provided me incredible training for life, even though some of the things the nuns taught back then seem ridiculous to me in 2016. (Example: Only Catholics go to Heaven. Apparently they had Donald Trump’s idea before his time of an unscalable wall for souls of other faiths.) What I learned that isn’t the least bit ridiculous is about having faith itself—especially to have faith in the cycles of life. The Catholic calendar is full of repetitive feasts and celebrations, just the like the trusty sky patterns that bring us the equinoxes and solstices and everything in-between. You can count on every Lent, Easter, Pentecost, All Soul’s Day, Advent and Christmas coming at or around the same time every year. Isn’t it interesting that so much faith depends on ritual? Repetitive acts at intervals in a never ending cycle. These observances graduate to the level of spirituality by celebrating their higher meaning without ceasing.

The religious feasts ask us to re-examine our faith and forward movement, and retrogrades do the same. They pop up, now, at a time of such tremendous change planet-wide; it’s good to consider where you’re going and why, instead of just rushing to get there, like the Aries Hare. Like the Hare, we get distracted and Retro Times give us an opportunity to “course correct,” if needed. The current Retros ask us to examine how we act (Mars), how we structure, organize or learn by experience (Saturn) and what we have to let go of or transform completely (Pluto).

The wisdom of saging, my word for cool aging, is learning to go with the flow of life. This is my favorite popular expression: It is what it is. The more we accept what is, the happier we are. This doesn’t mean we don’t stand up for injustices or try to right what doesn’t work, but knowing what we can’t change is in the Serenity Prayer for a reason. We can’t change the stars or the cycles of life. There is a word for those who buck the cosmic tide, disaster (against the stars).

Accepting that Retrograde Times aren’t exactly conducive to quick forward movement will help you win the “race” by taking small, faith-filled steps that accumulate to meet your goal. Your metaphorical garden will be gorgeous, too. Let chipping away at “getting there” it be your ritual.


Photo Credit: © fiore26 –

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Poem © 2016 by Joyce Mason

My mom's Aries Moon:
Fierce, protective
rib-crunching hugs
teamed with Venus in Scorpio,
a magnetic undertow of smother love.

I see mirrored in my cat’s eyes:
fiery love and fear of loss,
hot temper,
the craving and no-thank-you’s,
the Eternal Mother’s Day
of intense nurturing
big as all outdoors--
my heart strings wrapped
around the universe
defending the realm.


Photo Credit:  Lunar Echoes © agsandrew -