Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mercury in Gemini Square Stationing Neptune in Pisces: the Grenfell Tower Fire, Unheeded Warnings, and the Impenetrability of the Money-Driven, Authoritarian Establishment

A fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14, a 24-storey public housing high rise in London, England, has killed at least 79 [edited] residents who became trapped in the building. The real number will certainly be higher, as the mainstream media and authorities are being accused of covering up the true number of casualties.

What should be understood about Grenfell Tower is that it is a low-income housing tower located in North Kensington, on the western edge of Inner London, surrounded by rich neighbourhoods. 

Grenfell Tower residents had already organized as an association called Grenfell Action Group and repeatedly raised fire safety concerns with the property management, Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO), for years before the fire. No action was taken.

In 2013, a series of terrifying power surges was experienced for weeks in the building to the extent that smoke was coming out of electrical appliances and light fixtures. Many electronics and appliances were destroyed by the surges, and the issue was never resolved to the residents' satisfaction. Ongoing complaints and calls for fire safety improvements were ignored by KCTMO.

There was a single staircase running through the entire 24-storey building, 120 apartments, with one entrance and one exit. There was no sprinkler system, fire extinguishers were outdated, stairwells were filled with garbage and old mattresses, and residents reported hearing no fire alarms to alert them to the fire.

The only instructions residents had ever received from property management was to stay in their apartments in case of a fire.

Recently, the building was given a 8.7 million pound "facelift" so the area's rich residents wouldn't have to put up with an eyesore. New paneling was put on the exterior of the tower to "prettify" the building, and it is being said that the type of paneling used contributed to the fire, spreading it along the outside of the building and ensuring that residents became trapped inside.

It has since been revealed that the flammable paneling used is actually banned in the U.S., Europe, and the U.K. The flammable version is 2 pounds cheaper per panel than the inflammable version, which saved 6,000 pounds in this particular case. 

These are the unfortunately, tragically, prophetic words from the Grenfell Action Group in a post from November 2016:

"It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders. We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster."

A list of previous blogs by the Grenfell Action Group has also been posted, outlining its multiple calls to property management to take action on safety issues, all of which fell on deaf ears.

This tragedy at Grenfell Tower is yet another horror show symbol of the Pluto in Capricorn years. Many homes, businesses, and communities have been destroyed by the gentrification steamroller, creating surface-level appeal for the ultra rich and pampered at the expense of those with less wealth and fewer resources.

In this most tragic of cases, the exterior of Grenfell Tower was made to look pretty for the area's rich residents while covering up the rot, neglect, and corruption going on within. This is a common Pluto in Capricorn theme. This rot, neglect, and corruption, this crumbling and inadequate infrastructure, are allowed to fester (beneath the beautified surface) until a devastating event happens like this fire.

Not a penny of that 8.7 million pounds was spent on a sprinkler system, proper fire alarms, fireproofing, or fire escapes. (A sprinkler system for the entire building would have cost 138,000 pounds.) None of it was put toward fixing the electrical or replacing appliances in the building, with that terrifying history of power surges and unknown damages caused.

It was a superficial change covering up chronic neglect and corruption by management and government in order to please the people who really matter - the affluent. It was a superficial change attempting to cover up an entirely corrupt power structure, which failed repeatedly on multiple levels.

It is rarely a single corrupt and reckless action that leads to a tragedy like Grenfell Tower. It's a series of corrupt and reckless actions spread over years, coming from multiple layers of illegitimate hierarchical authority. It's an entire culture of so-called authority figures dropping the ball, looking the other way, making devastating and dangerous decisions that adversely affect others. It's an entire culture of people just plain not caring about anything other than the bottom line, while being compensated handsomely for bringing down misery on others.

It's this entire culture, this entire pyramid-scheme of illegitimate power, that Pluto in Capricorn is exposing for those who wish to see:

In addition to the criminal neglect and mismanagement from KCTMO, the City of London under Mayor Boris Johnson closed three fire stations in the area, part of a broader programme of fire station closures in the city which compromised safety.

Again, there were warnings about these horrific decisions.

From Fire Brigades Union regional secretary, Paul Embery:

"Mayor Boris Johnson will have blood on his hands. It will be only a matter of time before someone dies because a fire engine did not get to them in time. You cannot close 10 fire stations and slash nearly 600 firefighter jobs without compromising public safety.

These proposed cuts are dangerous and wrong.  If they are implemented, they will undoubtedly jeopardize the safety of Londoners and firefighters alike."

The Conservative government in power at the federal level, headed by Teresa May, sat on a report for four years that said low-income tower blocks were safety hazards.

The Conservative government also voted down a recent amendment that would make it law for landlords to make their rental properties fit for human habitation. Seventy-one of the Conservative Members of Parliament who voted the amendment down are landlords themselves.

Here we see a group of low-income residents that did everything within its (too limited) power. The people organized into the Grenfell Action Group and made relentless petitions to property management over the course of years to improve fire safety.

Just as the Mercury in Gemini square to stationing Neptune in Pisces became exact (June 13), the fire broke out. Despite all the communication and prior warnings to property management (Mercury/Gemini) about fire safety problems, the building residents and the City of London itself were left with a mass victimization (Neptune/Pisces).

This was the culmination of multiple communication blockages that occurred simply because the residents' words were chronically ignored, downplayed, and not taken seriously by the people with power who were in positions to do something about it.

The words (Mercury/Gemini) of those who are powerless (Neptune/Pisces) within the current power schemes. Their words (Mercury/Gemini) being scattered and nullified, made invisible, unheard, like screaming under water (Neptune/Pisces). Difficulty in making oneself heard or understood (Mercury square Neptune) - in this case because the people in positions of authority simply do not want to hear or understand.

Under the current system, those without money and the (false) power it brings are easily shunted aside, swatted away like an annoying mosquito buzzing in one's ear...

Mercury in Gemini square Neptune in Pisces.

Words take work. They take energy. Often painstaking work and energy. So does organizing. And all that precious energy and effort was wasted by an impenetrable authoritarian establishment that does not listen, does not act, does not adapt its ways to the feedback from those directly affected by its decisions.

This type of establishment, unfortunately accepted widely as the best way of organizing ourselves, is insane, plain and simple. To take the decision-making power away from the people who are directly affected, putting it in the hands of people who don't understand and won't understand, who ultimately don't really give a damn, is insane.

Neptune and Pisces are associated with devastation, victimization, contagion, and karmic accidents/tragedies that have a broader collective root. They are associated with institutionalized living, such as this low-income tower block. And they are also associated with proliferation and dispersion, including into the collective psyche. I hope this Mercury-Neptune square indicates that the words of the residents will now proliferate and proliferate and proliferate until the public knows with no uncertainty the horrible injustice that was allowed to happen here, until those responsible are held accountable, including via criminal charges, and until the necessary changes are made to buildings around the world. This did not need to happen. It should not have happened.

We are connected around the world by blogs, media, and social media (Mercury/Gemini), and the warnings and words of the residents are now spreading far and wide (Neptune/Pisces). 

Unfortunately, it seems there will be only a government-controlled inquiry of the Grenfell Tower fire, rather than a full public inquest. This takes another layer of power away from the public and from the surviving victims and families of the dead, keeping it all tightly controlled by the Conservative government in power.

The Sun in Gemini was forming a mutable t-square at the time of the Grenfell Tower fire, opposing Saturn retrograde in Sagittarius and squaring Chiron in Pisces.

This indicates a very immediate confrontation with the truth (Sagittarius) about the establishment (Saturn). The Sun in Gemini is shining a light on the outdated (retrograde) philosophy (Sagittarius) of the authoritarian establishment (Saturn), while also showing the acute pain, misery, wounding, and victimization (Chiron in Pisces) caused by this outdated authoritarian establishment.

The Sun in Gemini is shining its light on the corrupt will of the current power structures, a will that is forced upon people who must live under dangerous rules and decisions made by illegitimate and incompetent hierarchies.

These are bodies in mutable signs in tense and difficult aspect, illustrating the lack of adaptability, lack of movement, and lack of permeability within the current, top-down authoritarian structures.

With Neptune and Chiron in Pisces involved, there is an element of the ubiquitous. These are issues that go beyond location, beyond that North Kensington neighbourhood (Gemini).

The fact of the matter is - this isn't just an unfortunate and isolated event. This can happen anywhere, any time, and it will happen, it will keep happening, until action is taken, until the rot and corruption are overturned, until the entire Capricorn-run-amok, "money rules above all" mindset is eliminated (Pluto).

We have to wholeheartedly reject a mindset the prioritizes money over human life because we know that these are not the true rules governing life on Planet Earth. These are man-made rules, rules set up to benefit the few over the many.

We are on the brink of disaster as far as low-income housing almost across the board on Planet Earth. Bedbugs, vermin, faulty wiring, faulty appliances, inadequate heating and cooling, fire hazards, toxic mould, crumbling structures, safety hazards of all varieties. Homelessness is epidemic as rents and real estate prices remain ridiculously over-priced in many areas.

It's all designed for the highest bidder, and life continues to get more and more difficult for those without means. 

One of my first stories as a journalism student in the late 1990s was about a real estate corporation, aptly named Boardwalk Equities, buying up all the low-income housing around the university, doing cheap, superficial renovations, and then jacking the rents up. This company made its fortune that way and continues to hold a monopoly (again, you can't make this stuff up) on housing in many areas where low-income people live. When oil was in "boom phase" rather than "bust phase" (where it is now), Boardwalk Equities literally doubled the rents on their bare bones apartments in Calgary, Alberta, in order to cash in.

The same situation is going on pretty well everywhere, as low-income housing is bought up by private investors and converted into cash cows. But there are few areas where this money-driven transformation is more mind-boggling than in highly-inflated London, where Grenfell Tower stood among all the over-priced abodes. Low-income housing in London, called council housing, has been gobbled up by real estate speculators and converted into high-end homes for the well-heeled, reducing the already-inadequate amount of affordable housing in the city. Over the past 20 years, the population of London has increased by 1 million people while the number of affordable housing units has dropped by one third.

We need change. We need change everywhere. We need affordable, alternative housing options for people of any income level. Land needs to be affordable and accessible for people of all income levels. Existing landlords and property management need to care as much about the safety of their tenants as they do about their own family members.

But that's not what we have.

We have the standard stranglehold of fake, phony, fiat currency with people reinforcing and benefiting from a violent, unjust, and deadly system.

The primary way to make money in this type of system is to cut corners. So this is what they do, ultimately leading to something horrific like the Grenfell Tower fire.

It doesn't matter which party is in power. The entire money scheme, the entire establishment power structure, is rotten to the core. But it's the poor and those who lack resources who are victimized most by it, not those who are truly responsible for the way things are (dys)functioning.

I don't see the solutions coming from the establishment.

The methods to improve fire safety in all low-income tower blocks were there - they just weren't utilized. The methods to make low-income housing habitable and safer for the people renting it are already there - they just aren't being enforced or utilized. 

Solutions are already there for homelessness and the lack of low-income housing - tiny homes, cob homes, Earth ships, shipping container homes. You can create a home with a 3D printer for $10,000.

The technology is there. The political will is not. And under an intentionally-stratified system of Global Government, it never will be.

We have to keep working on the vision of what could be, even when our hearts are in the dust. Because the solutions are ultimately going to come from people helping themselves and each other, from people sharing ideas and techniques, from people using the power they have to build whatever they can. There's a critical mass that has to be reached before the momentum takes over and better ways start to become more accessible and available to people across the board.




Some of my vision involves:

- an understanding that as a human society, the basics of living must be accessible and available to everyone, regardless of income level. Until this is the case, the society is a failure.
- an understanding that fiat currency and wealth do not measure the true value of a human being and that income stratification/inequality is built right into the current system
- affordable land and basic housing that is available and accessible for people of all income levels: the basics are within reach for anyone; if you'd like more than the basics, you can work towards that
- the ability to work to pay for your home and land doing things that are beneficial to others/the community from within your ability, including work that can be done by people with disabilities
- tiny home communities, cob home communities, communities built with 3D printers, converted shipping container homes, other cheap and accessible alternative building methods made widely available
- options for people who prefer a more nomadic life; decriminalization of that way of living
- safe, clean, affordable, alternative energy that is controlled by individuals for their own homes/usage
- enough land area to grow/raise one's own food, if desired, or access to food from local farms or market gardens for those who do not wish to "do it themselves"
- investment in train networks and other public transportation, making public transit networks convenient, widespread, and appealing
- communities/neighbourhoods that are designed for people's preferences: some may be walking only, some may be walking/cycling/transit only, some may be individual vehicle only, or other mixes. Some communities could be completely private, others could have more interaction.
- communities that have options for natural human interaction: common areas, common kitchens or outdoor cooking areas, marketplaces, areas for music, dancing, or games, etc., all within walking distance

What is your vision as far as building better living/housing situations for the people on this planet?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Some Sustenance From the Vault as Neptune Stands Still in the Zodiac

 Photo: Willow

As outlined in the most recent patron article, we aren't in the easiest of astrological territory at the moment. Neptune is currently standing still in Pisces within a square aspect to Mercury in Gemini. We also have wounded healer Chiron slowing to station retrograde (July 1) in late Pisces, still within that blasted square to Saturn in Sagittarius, and this extra-potent Saturn-Chiron square is being activated by the Sun, Ceres, and Mercury in Gemini.

To illustrate the themes at play, I'm re-posting an article from the Neptune Rx station in 2013.

"Neptune Stations Retrograde and the End-of-Pisces Disappointment and Futility Drop Like a Veil..." (with updated transit information): 

"Hollow-gut disappointments hang around us like stale fumes. End-of-era love relationships are a confusing, disorienting mess. The idea that our dreams are not special, that we're not special under egalitarian Aquarius, can erode us at the heart. The discrepancy between where we hoped we'd be at this point versus where we really are is staggering at times - both personally and on a broader societal or collective level.

Anyone aware of the circumstances of humanity on Planet Earth at this time will find them humbling, to say the least.

The Moon entered Pisces early this morning (June 15) and forms a conjunction to Neptune tomorrow morning at 6:10 a.m. (PDT), just after the Neptune retrograde station at 14 degrees Pisces at 4:10 a.m.

The Pisces Moon will square Mercury in Gemini tomorrow at 5:29 p.m.

From there, it squares the Sun in Gemini and Saturn Rx in Sagittarius in the early morning hours of June 17.

Some lingering depression, disappointment, disillusionment, despondency, or a sense of utter futility about carrying on from here can be expected over the next few weeks as Neptune (and then Chiron) stations and starts moving backward through the zodiac. There's an unfulfilled sadness in the air, in the collective psyche, so watch to make sure you or your loved ones don't tip too far into the psychic bleak.

The new guy wasn't who you hoped he was. The new job that seemed so interesting turned out to be more of the same. The daily grind seems increasingly dull, painful, pointless, hopeless. Reaching for the bottle, for the bong, for junk food, or for the credit card are all possibilities to dull the pain, to desensitize.

This is standard end-of-era backwash, however. More end-of-Pisces clearing. Fool me once, shame on you, Neptune. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Keep moving, keep flowing, and keep laughing at the insanity of the situations with which we are faced in this foul year of our Lord two thousand and [seventeen].

It's the sensitives, the creatives, the Piscean/Neptunians who hold the true weight of where we are right now. They're the ones holding the energy of Pisces, the energy of the spiritual whole, where every last detail matters and nothing can be conveniently amputated or ignored without problematic future repercussions. They're the ones potentially being crushed under the cruelty, the inhumanity, and the dysfunction of the current scenes. Yes, it's that serious.

But it's also funny.

Isn't it?

To be set up with these seemingly impossible clusterfuck scenarios during our lifetimes on Planet Earth?

It didn't start with us, and it doesn't end with us.

But we do have a prime and shining opportunity to direct things now.

Neptune stationing, like prominent Neptune in the natal chart, can create a sort of stoner effect on even the most sober among us. Air-headed and flaky. Forgetful. Dreamy. Wistful. Pie-in-sky. Avoiding. Self-pitying. Indulgent. La La Land-living.

Stay on track and stay focused on your own Aquarian-era ideals, despite the Neptunian fog tempting us to go down maudlin back alleys or to take diversionary, wishful-thinking detours."

Remember - we've come a long way and cleared a lot of crap since this article was written, even if it doesn't feel like it in this exact moment. The stationing themes are still there, still threatening to dunk us under, but we've advanced the scene well beyond where we were. Don't let this Neptune-Chiron-Saturn triple team convince you otherwise. We've been very productive. And it all matters.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Some Pressurized Mutable Squirreliness On the Horizon: Working to Keep All the Balls in the Air


Lettuce growing in the hedge garden

"Some Pressurized Mutable Squirreliness On the Horizon: Working to Keep All the Balls in the Air" is an article available to Willow's Web Astrology patrons.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Concentrated Consolidation and a Moment of Anticipation Ahead of New Growth

The North Node of the Moon, newly in Leo, is currently forming beautiful trine aspects to Venus and Uranus in Aries (conjunct at 27 degrees on June 3) and to Saturn Rx in Sagittarius.

This forms an energetic Grand Fire Trine formation (energetic because the North Node is a calculated astrological point, not a physical celestial body), which is extra specially gorgeous because it propels us into an absolutely magnificent set of astrological aspects that carry us through the summer of 2017. These aspects will involve multiple Grand Fire Trines with some of those morphing into air-fire kite formations with the addition of Jupiter, soon to be direct in Libra (June 9 direct station at 13 degrees).

Grand Fire Trines indicate time periods characterized by intensified creativity, artistry, inspiration, passion, excitement, enthusiasm, exuberance, fun, and movement. These formations indicate a time of general encouragement and high spirits.

The involvement of Jupiter in Libra within kite formation indicates that we are building and developing the social fabric in highly beneficial ways this summer, particularly in August and September. There is an emphasis on teamwork, mutuality, common ground, and finding ways that work for all involved.

(More on the splashy and colourful summer of 2017 can be found in this patron article, "The North Node Enters Shiny, Happy Leo, and There's Almost Too Much Goodness to Contain in One Article!")

The energetic Grand Fire Trine involving the Leo North Node opens us into a new creative chapter that picks up speed as we move through the first part of June. Consider this the first activation at the heart in a series of activations at the heart. We're channeling some very powerful joy over the next few months...

At this point, we just want to have some fun with it all, and with the North Node transiting playful Leo for the next 18 months, we can do just that.

At the same time as all this firey goodness starts to be revved up (and it's only the beginning!), we have three personal planets shifting signs, which indicates a refreshing change in themes.

Action planet Mars enters Cancer on June 4, and our desires turn decidedly homey. We want to be around familiar people and familiar settings, comfort food, and rootsy experiences. We're sticking fairly close to home. Family and people who feel like family. The soul clan. Those who stir our ancestral sense of belonging and loyalty. Those with whom we feel naturally comfortable. There will be some fierce (Mars) nostalgia (Cancer) in the ethers throughout this transit, which extends to July 20, and anything that reminds us of the past, of our family/kin/clan, or of a "simpler time" (were the times ever really all that simple?) will be attractive. Parades, summer activities, ice cream, eating fresh-picked berries in the back yard while watching the fireflies - you know, all that (North) Americana crap!

With the aggression planet in the sign of the family, there is also such thing as too much familial closeness, however, and we'll have to watch this, injecting a little space and detachment if tensions start to rise. As fierce as its devotion is, independent Mars can feel a little claustrophobic or suffocated by all that togetherness. This could especially be the case around the times of the Mars in Cancer square to Jupiter in Libra (June 24), opposition to Pluto in Capricorn (June 29), and square to Uranus in Aries (July 17). They don't call it the crusty crab for nothing, and Mars in Cancer can be particularly crusty at times, as Mars is in its fall in this sign. Not the easiest of energies to mix - the never-say-die warrior with the nurturing and caring mother. All edges and angles and battles with soft and gentle and sweet.

As the United States and Canada are both Cancer Sun nations, the war planet transiting this sign could (unfortunately) indicate particular aggression or tension within the global war machine involving one or both of these countries. As usual, the subtext involved during the celebrations of Canada Day (July 1) and U.S. Independence Day (July 4) will be thick...

On June 6, we have a very nice propulsion into new energy, new themes, and new scenarios, as Mercury and Venus both enter new signs. Phew!

You may recall that Mercury and Venus both very recently come out of their retrograde shadows at the same time. Now, they are preparing to leave the aftermath of all that rehashing and review behind them, officially planting a flag in new turf. This shift in signs should be particularly refreshing, as both Mercury and Venus will be entering signs of their domicile, home-sweet-home territory they naturally rule and operate quite well within.

Mercury will move into its domicile of Gemini on June 6, joining the Sun in the communicative sign of the twins. The transit of Mercury through grounded, earthy, and materially-oriented Taurus was certainly a nice reprieve from the "brilliance blast" of the extended Mercury-Uranus conjunction in Aries we experienced beginning in March 2017. However, the winged messenger planet is more than ready to move into less dense intellectual and verbal territory. Words are a little heavier and a little harder to generate with Mercury transiting Taurus. The gravity of Mercury in Taurus kept us focused on the material here-and-now (gardening, in my case!), but with Mercury soon entering Gemini, our words gain wings and start to fly. We can expect things to get a little busier, a little more hectic, with connections, interactions, and social circulation starting to hum. The wheels are officially greased. The slightly frenetic Gemini buzz extends to solstice when Mercury catches up to the Sun in the zodiac, forming the Sun-Mercury exterior conjunction at zero degrees Cancer on June 21 to mark the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere and the official start of winter in the southern.

Possibly the biggest relief on the horizon is Lesser Benefic Venus moving out of Aries, the sign of its detriment, and into Taurus, the sign of its domicile. Love planet Venus first entered warrior Aries way back on February 3, 2017. The Venus retrograde (March 4 to April 15) extended Venus' stay in this edgy, uncompromising, and (for Venus) not-so-comfy sign, but we can say that the Venus retrograde of 2017 is officially complete as Venus moves into Taurus June 6. Earthy and sensual Taurus is much more familiar and easily-navigated ground for Venus, and Venus get a nice, supportive dose of the sign of the bull until entering Gemini July 4. Venus in Taurus will be further comforted and supported by a nice sextile aspect to Mars in Cancer on June 9.

In the days prior to the June 6 shift in signs, we can expect some fairly concentrated "wrapping up" of previous themes.

To illustrate: in late March 2017, just as Mercury in Aries formed a square to Pluto in Capricorn, it was announced that the neo-conservative Brad Wall government in Saskatchewan was eliminating the public bus system for the entire province in order to save one tenth of one percent of the overall budget. This was a shocking and horrifying announcement for many, including me. I literally couldn't believe that a decision this ass-headed would be allowed to go forward and wrote an article about it at the time, "We Get Knocked Down, But We Get Up Again: Regressive Transportation Policy Under the Mercury-Pluto Square."

Protests have been ongoing throughout the province from late March right up to the present time. There have been protests, signs, letters to government, court challenges, media pleas, and a strong social media presence demanding that this terrible, terrible decision be reversed.

Unfortunately, so far, it has been to no avail. The Wall government is intent on destroying this essential transportation lifeline in Saskatchewan so that it can put forth its facade of being a "no deficit, belt-tightening" conservative government.

The last day of service for STC was May 31, and honestly, our hearts are very heavy.

Six brave souls refused to exit the last STC bus to Saskatoon on May 31 in protest and were arrested for their trouble. (I absolutely love these people.)

I was compelled to do a YouTube video on the subject to express my disbelief that this is actually happening, that this bus service that has run for 70+ years is actually being dismantled by one short-sighted and mean-spirited government. Brad Wall was also employed with the Conservative government of Grant Devine in the 1980s, another Saskatchewan government that was hell-bent on destroying the publicly-owned Crown Corporations in the province in favour of your standard "free" market ideology. So this has been a dream of old Braddy Boy's for a good, long while. His dream, our nightmare. (Incidentally, the Devine government was disgraced and taken down in an expense-claim scandal involving a free-for-all of spending tax payer's money...)

YouTube: The Huge and Unnecessary Loss of Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC)


Unfortunately, it appears that this really is happening - for now.

With a decision this horrible, you can be assured that the opposition and protest won't be stopping any time soon...

The video crystallizes some of the things that have gone on with this issue over the past couple months.

You may notice a similar crystallization process going on in your own lives with things that have been on your mind over the past months.

I was also compelled to do another video, this one on what I see as the destructive divisiveness of identity politics, in particular along racial lines. I was spurred to do this video after seeing a story about Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington where it was stated by an African American student that, "Whiteness is the most violent fucking system to ever breathe."

YouTube: Rejection of the Race-Based Agenda in Favour of the Common Struggle


This video, too, has a root to previous articles I've done on the subject and would be tied to both the Venus-Uranus conjunction in late Aries (identity/rights) June 3 and the Jupiter direct station in Libra June 9.

Jupiter goes direct at 13 degrees Libra on June 9, just as the Moon grows full at 18 degrees Sagittarius (conjunct Saturn retrograde). This indicates a spotlight on social dynamics and justice-related themes around that time, weaving in elements of culture, history, and truth (Sagittarius). There is a particular theme related to broadening (Jupiter) the currently established version (Saturn) of history, story, or truth (Sagittarius) to better reflect the true social realities (Libra).

So there's a fairly concentrated consolidation underway of the past few months. We're not in new territory just yet - but it's close.

Onions


Even my garden is holding form, preparing for a new burst of energy and growth. It has been exciting to watch things popping up, but the major growth is still on the horizon. The little seedlings are taking their time, readying themselves for what's ahead. And so are we.

As we move through the first part of June and close in on blessed solstice, we get a sense of the new energy that is available to us ahead of the exciting and joyful aspects we will experience between June solstice and September equinox.

Enjoy.


 Cucumbers

 Lettuce

 Bok Choy

Mr. Zucchini - he's the biggest so far, so he gets to be called Mr.  

Mr. Zucchini and friends

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mercury and Venus Simultaneously Move Into Fresh Territory

 Photos: Willow

There are a few notable astrological events occurring as we close out Taurus season that indicate a push into fresh new territory as the Sun enters chatty and changeable Gemini on May 20.

After reflecting, reviewing, and regurgitating for the past few months, this move into a new chapter is quite welcome.

Mercury and Venus leave their retrograde shadows almost simultaneously this week, just as Saturn in Sagittarius retrogrades into its second exact trine aspect to Uranus in Aries.

Love, money, and values planet Venus crosses out of the retrograde shadow at 13 degrees Aries on May 18. This officially puts Venus Retrograde 2017 (March 4 to April 15 from 13 degrees Aries to 26 degrees Pisces) in our rear view mirrors. This movement of Venus indicates a surge into fresh territory, an opening into new experiences in the realms of love, relationship, social life, money, self-esteem, aesthetic, and art. We have hopefully had more healing experiences than wounding ones coming out of the Venus direct station conjunct wounded healer Chiron in Pisces on April 15, 2017. Now, we have a chance to put our "relationship reviews" into active practise. The ghosts of relationships past are ready to be released. It's time to move on - together or on our own. Either is good, as long as we're moving in the right direction. There is a sense that we are embarking on the next social and relational chapter, putting certain people, situations, and relationship dynamics behind us while others simply change form. There is just a moment being allowed for the bittersweetness of this experience before we are propelled into action, dynamism, and forward-ho movement.

This movement will be especially observable in money matters, with self-esteem/self-worth, and in relationship realms (that always-juicy Venus domain). This heats up further as Venus in Aries activates a cardinal t-square formation, initiating new directions in relationships and social dynamics of all kinds. Venus in Aries will form an opposition to Jupiter Rx in Libra (May 19 at 13 degrees), a square to Pluto in Capricorn (May 25 at 19 degrees), and a conjunction to Uranus in Aries (June 3 at 27 degrees). We must cling to the wisdom we have gathered during the Jupiter in Libra transit about which relationship dynamics must now end and which will propel us forward into new and beneficial mutuality.

Venus in Aries will also form a lovely trine aspect to Saturn in Sagittarius on June 1 (25 degrees), indicating a solidification and shoring up of our wise new tactics in relationships and social realms.

The very same day that Venus exits the retrograde shadow, May 18, Saturn Rx in Sagittarius forms a second flowing and congenial trine aspect to Uranus in Aries. (The first occurred in December 2016; the final will occur in November 2017.) This is the force of conservatism, stability, and prudence coming into mutually supportive contact with the force of upheaval, sudden change, and the avant garde. This indicates the possibility for a nice, structured move into the future, into new ways of doing things and new ways of being, with surprisingly few frictional moments. It's just time.  

Communication and intelligence planet Mercury enters Taurus tonight (9:07 p.m. PDT) and crosses out of the retrograde shadow at 4 degrees on May 20. Mercury was retrograde April 9 to May 3 from 4 degrees Taurus to 24 degrees Aries, and we have been in an extended Mercury-Uranus conjunction since late March 2017. Words and communication have been a little too hot to handle at times. We've been in a bit of a mental burn-out zone under this lengthy conjunction, but Mercury moving into new degrees of Taurus indicates that we can now shift our mindsets to simpler and more grounded concerns, moving out of the heightened buzz and zing and zap of the electric-Uranian force field that has been so influential over our mental environments. Although transiting Mercury in Taurus indicates the possibility of some hard work and strategic planning ahead, to think about simpler and more material concerns comes as a relief after the "genius overload" of the lengthy Mercury-Uranus conjunction.

With Mercury moving into new territory May 20 and almost immediately moving out of reach of Uranus (by May 22), we can expect exchanges and connections that ground us in material reality, right where we stand. Things take on a more earthy and even laconic tone. (This is the winged messenger in the sign of the farmer, after all.) This shift can have a calming effect on our mental circuitry. As Mercury moves onto new ground, we may have conversations that were delayed previously. We may have realizations or pick up pieces of information that anchor us in a stronger way into our here-and-now reality. There is a very practical, "sorting things through" mindset at play. We may be talking money matters, farming/gardening/agriculture, values, or beauty, but whatever the topic of conversation, with Mercury in Taurus until June 6, it will be "real world"-oriented. 

The Sun enters Gemini May 20, as well (1:31 p.m.), and we're ready for new ideas, new thoughts, new conversations, and new connections - as long as they're grounded and earthy (dispositor Mercury in Taurus), rather than flighty and pie-in-the-sky.

Overall, the period between May 18 and 20 has some strong momentum that propels us into new mindsets and new relational dynamics. A page is turning, and things are moving forward in a nice, grounded sort of way. (As grounded as it gets in this foul year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen, anyway...)

Keep your eyes on what's ahead, and allow any concluding events from the Mercury and Venus retrogrades to unfold according to their own natural timing.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Full Moon in Scorpio Catalyzes Deep Emotional Movement

The Full Moon at 20 degrees Scorpio on May 10 (2:42 p.m. PDT) pushes us to a point of emotional catharsis and purge, illuminating dark and neglected corners within the inner landscape. 

There's movement here, potentially uncomfortable, within these inner landscapes. It may be movement that has been a long time coming, movement that can no longer be held back. Things are being pushed to an internal catalytic point. Emotional earth is being turned over, and there will be no going back once we come into the full awareness being gifted to us (sometimes painfully) under this Full Moon. 

Wherever Scorpio lives in your birth chart - that's the area where this awareness is being gifted to you.

This Full Moon may coincide with events that validate your feelings and intuition at a deep level.

Secrets may be exposed, and the use of shared resources (particularly family resources) may be a theme.

Scorpio is a sign symbolized by both the scorpion and the eagle. It knows the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of this Earth experience. It also knows these experiences cannot be separated. They are yin and yang, day and night, earth and sky. They're all part and parcel.

Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment under the Scorpio Full Moon.

A large number of leopard sharks are currently washing up dead along the San Francisco Bay, part of the ongoing collapse of the Pacific Ocean ecosystem following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. The sharks are dying from a hemorrhaging brain infection - hemorrhaging is a common side effect of poisoning from radioactivity, as are compromised immune systems which allow for increased infections.

Because this particular die-off  is occurring in a highly-populated area (San Francisco) and the animals involved are large and dramatic (sharks), it is receiving a little bit of media attention, though with the Mars in Gemini-Neptune in Pisces square, the real cause will most likely remain foggy and obscured within media channels...

We have also had an unusual winter in most of Canada - almost constant cloudiness and a much higher level of precipitation than usual in many areas. On the rare sunny days, you will almost certainly see what has now become a familiar sight - planes spraying chemtrails through the sky. Within minutes, the trails spread out into cloudy wisps. Within 24 hours, there is generally a thick blanket of flat, grey cloud cover, often including precipitation.

The inner discomfort under this Scorpio Full Moon is building toward a release from old and crystallized emotional burdens ready now to be liberated. Don't push it down. Don't push it away. Sink down into the discomfort and read what it's trying to tell you. You already know. Just let it come to the surface as the Moon's rays grow bright in the night sky.

This is a Moon for examining the trade-offs we make in our lives, as well as determining if these trade-offs are still worth it to us. This is a Moon for examining the energy expenditures we make (especially of an emotional/supportive nature), determining if those remain a wise investment.

This is a Moon for illuminating and then stepping past detrimental compulsions, jealousies, patterns, and addictions. It's a Moon that will illuminate the roots of our behaviours, particularly any dysfunctional (and ultimately fruitless) ways in which we try to get our needs met. These behavioural roots may stem from childhood or from family/ancestral patterns (Moon).

This Moon will illuminate compulsiveness so that we can break its hold.

This Moon will help us to differentiate between needs and fears - a critical distinction to get clear on ahead of Jupiter entering Scorpio for a year on October 10, 2017. This includes ancestral fears hard-wired into us that may be controlling us in detrimental ways in our present moment.

Not the easiest of emotional territory - Scorpio is the sign of the Moon's detriment, after all - but ultimately rich and productive territory if we can find the courage to take action.

The Moon enters Scorpio tonight (10:00 p.m.), and things start to move and shift beneath it all. We're under the strongest effects from the Scorpio Full Moon on May 9 and 10, just as the North Node enters Leo and Mercury forms an exact conjunction to Uranus in Aries. Pressure, fullness, emotional unease.

Understand the state of uncomfortable emotional/psychological fullness that we are all being brought through via this Full Moon. Understand how "at the brink" certain people and situations are at this point, especially if they have been clinging to the security blanket of denial regarding the state of things. Understand how difficult it is to go on denying the underlying realities under the exposing rays of this Scorpio Full Moon, and understand that people will be having issues because of this. Allow room for some hard-edged emotions to surface under this Moon. Allow room for a certain level of emotional and psychological distress and disturbance to play itself out.

The ugly and the beautiful. The distressing and the sublime. With Scorpio, they are a magic dance, inextricable from each other. They weave in and out in a spellbinding display of rich and mesmerizing life. Don't shortchange yourself from this full experience. It's such a very short time we have to stay and play...

The Scorpio Moon will go void-of-course after opposing the Taurus Sun, marking the Full Moon at 20 degrees on May 10 (2:42 p.m.). The emotional percolation process is quite intense and concentrated within that void-of-course period until the Moon enters more buoyant territory in Sagittarius on May 11 (9:59 a.m.).  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Projects, Projects, Projects With the North Node on Zero Virgo Until May 9

Last year around this time, I was relocating to a new province. I planted a garden in Saskatchewan before I left but moved before I could enjoy the "veggies of my labour."

I moved to the new location halfway through June and spent the summer getting my bearings in my new locale.

I visited the local Farmers Market (and set up my own DIY table there for a few weeks) and was also happy to learn that my local grocery store carried a nice selection of foods, including organic.

Still, I missed my garden terribly! More than one might imagine. It was like an ancestral psychic panic when I thought about having no space to grow food after having a garden five years running in Saskatchewan. The trauma and vulnerability of the landless peasants, reliant on someone else's land, over which someone else has ultimate control. It runs through the blood of most of us, I'm sure.

I applied with the community garden for this year but was only able to secure one 4-foot by 8-foot bed.

Since being poisoned by Cipro, I have to eat a diet of mostly fresh vegetables (my body rejects most other foods), so this was not going to cut it considering the volume of vegetables I needed to produce.

I scoped around for more space, but the community garden was full. The local college had a little bit of space available under some landscaping fabric, but it was two bus rides and a three-quarter kilometre trek just to get to the garden spot. A little on the inconvenient/arduous side, but I went to check it out anyway because I was pretty well desperate.

I was talking about gardening one day around my apartment building, and my landlord overheard. He said he would be happy to put in a raised bed in the adjacent yard! Oh, man. Was I overjoyed.

That still left me a little short of space for things like cucumbers, zucchinis, and tomatoes, which like to spread out a whole lot. So he said I could spade up some sod along his hedge to make an extra vegetable bed. Eureka! Amazing! I found my garden space, and I could make it right in the yard of my apartment building. There's an outside water source, too, to make it even more convenient.

The first project to get to work on was the raised vegetable bed. This part was a bit more complicated and definitely required assistance from my landlord, as I had never made one before. Now that I've taken part in putting one together, I can see that it is quite simple if you have the supplies and tools required. (Thank-you to my Awesome McPossum landlord. I hope he is well-rewarded for his kindness.)

Tools/supplies needed to build a simple raised garden bed:

 Isn't it cute?

- wood (6 pieces that are 8 feet, 6 pieces that are 4 feet, of a 3-inch depth to make a 9-inch tall bed like the one shown)
- a drill
- large nails/spikes
- a hammer
- a vehicle, possibly with a trailer (to get the wood and also to pick up the soil)
- a spade (pointed shovel)
- a level
- top soil

As my landlord said, this style of raised bed is built like a log cabin. I didn't know exactly what that meant at the time, but as you can see, the ends of the wood are layered over each other in alternating positions.


Setting the first layer (foundation layer) is the trickiest because it should be level on the ground. We had to dig one end down a bit with the spade so the wood would sit in a level position. We used a level to make sure.

You basically set the first pieces of wood down on the ground as you would like them, making sure the ends are all flush, and then measure diagonally from one corner to the other corner, length ways (long side). You then measure diagonally corner-to-corner the other way, length ways. These numbers should match. If they don't, adjust the wood a bit until both diagonal measurements are the same length.

Then drill holes on the ends horizontally through the outside piece of wood into the inner piece of wood. Hammer a spike (large nail) through the hole to hold the pieces together. (You can see the spikes in the photograph.) Do this on all four ends.

From there, you place the second layer of wood on top, alternating the placement of the ends, as shown.

Drill holes again through the end pieces horizontally from the outside piece into the inner piece of wood. Hammer spikes through the holes to hold the pieces together.

On this second layer, you also drill holes vertically down through the top of the wood to hold the second layer to the bottom layer. Drill these holes on the ends (making sure to offset the spikes that have already been hammered in) and also along each piece of wood. Two holes spaced evenly along each long piece of wood should do the trick with one hole drilled in the centre of the shorter pieces. Hammer spikes through these holes vertically (up and down).

The third and final layer is basically a repeat - set it on the second layer, but alternate the position of the ends again.

Drill holes horizontally through the end pieces to hold them together and hammer the spikes through. Then drill more holes vertically on the ends and also spaced throughout the pieces of wood in a couple places. (Again, make sure to offset them from the spikes that are already in place.) Hammer spikes in vertically through these holes.

Now, you have your frame.

You can add more layers of wood if you would like a taller bed and just repeat the steps, alternating each layer's ends as you go.

There are lots of methods for building raised beds - this is just the method we used, and it turned out nicely. 

The next part of the process involves some grunt work - spading up the sod underneath your bed and removing it. You will flake off as much soil as you can from each chunk of sod with your hands to keep in your bed and then get rid of the sod however you can.

Once all the sod is removed from the area of your bed, you will dig down into the ground with your spade to aerate (loosen) the soil. Use your foot to kick the spade down into the soil and then flip the soil over, breaking it apart with your spade if necessary. I could only go one spade length (about one foot) deep or even less in some areas because the soil underneath was quite rocky. This is OK - just do your best, and the plants will find a way! According to my online research, most plant roots need 12 - 18 inches, so with the nine inches of raised bed, this will likely be sufficient.

You can fertilize this layer of soil if you like before adding top soil. I threw in a few weeks worth of vegetable scraps and crushed egg shells as direct compost, as well as a couple shovelfuls of store bought fertilizer that my landlord had.

Finally, you will add soil to your bed. This may be the tricky part, as you will need a vehicle and possibly a trailer if you can't get it delivered. Extremely luckily for me, my landlord had a vehicle, a trailer, and all the tools we needed to build the bed. (Handy!)

There are places in most areas that sell top soil, or you may be able to buy it from a local farmer.

After some delays (yep, Mercury was retrograde), my landlord picked up the soil on the day Mercury went direct, and we shoveled it into the bed.

Ready for planting!

This leads to the second vegetable bed, which was a regular bed, not a raised bed. Much simpler. This bed I could make myself with only a spade for a tool.


Standard vegetable bed (right)

The good thing about this kind of bed is that any area that is currently seeded to grass could be used, as long as the soil underneath is decent. Top soil, organic material (leaves, hay, vegetable scraps), manure, and fertilizers can be added to make better soil if it is not the greatest.

The other major advantage to this type of bed is that the cost is very low (free if you have a spade to work with). Making a raised bed is comparatively pricey. 

I made this bed between a hedge and a gravel walkway, so it is a long, skinny bed.

This one pretty much just requires grunt work. Spade up the sod, making sure to get all the grass and plant roots up in each chunk. Again, flake off as much soil as you can from the chunks of sod with your hands to keep in your bed and then get rid of the sod however you can. In this case, I stuck the pieces of sod into the bottom of the hedge where they will break down.

 Halfway done spading the regular bed

Once the sod has been removed, you will aerate the soil by digging down into it with the spade. Use your foot to kick the spade down into the soil and then flip the soil over, breaking it apart with your spade if necessary. Go down one to two feet.

I had a little extra top soil left from the raised bed, so I mixed some of that in with the already existing soil.

Now both beds are ready for planting!


 Both beds finished

I look forward to sharing photos of these garden beds this summer. Fingers crossed, everything grows nicely.

I didn't know if my Cipro-fied body would cooperate in the making of these beds, but the power of the zero-degree Virgo North Node must have helped me though! Work, projects, preparation, and health (Virgo).

As always, I would encourage anyone to try his or her hand at gardening. If you don't have access to land (for most of my city-dwelling adult life, I didn't, either), community gardens may be an option. Talk to your landlord - he or she may be surprisingly agreeable to converting lawn to garden space. Less grass to mow! And there aren't many people who don't like watching gardens grow, especially if someone else is doing the gardening work. Talk to your local town or city council - members may be agreeable to converting public land into garden space. Some of the areas that have been devoted to growing flowers, for example, could be converted into food-producing zones. Empty lots may also be prime candidates.

You can also grow an interesting array of plants indoors. Even a window box full of herbs can bring a lot of joy and satisfaction.

Dwarf planet Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres, is in Gemini (until July 10) and is forming a conjunction with Mars in Gemini at the moment, so asking about and talking about (Gemini) the growing of food (Ceres) could bring a surprising amount of movement (Mars) now. The potency of verbal/written cross-pollination is intensified by the fact that just-stationed-direct Mercury in Aries, tightly conjunct Uranus, is the dispositor (key influence) over Ceres and Mars in Gemini. The time is ripe for unexpected and critically-necessary change, particularly of a survival-based (Aries) bent, and these changes are stimulated and spurred via talking, asking questions, and making connections, especially in our local areas (Gemini/Mercury). Again, food and agriculture issues (Ceres) are hot (Mars), and making connections with others along lines of shared interest related to these subjects is indicated.

Growing food is intuitive to most people. It doesn't have to be hard or intimidating. It doesn't have to be finicky or precious. Just jump in, and you'll figure things out. I'm a big fan of the Plutonic punk gardening style. From a previous post:

"Food doesn't have to be a tiring bore, and growing things doesn't have to be an intimidating chore. We can simply shrug off that version of things and strip things down to the essentials.

The basic rules to follow here are:

It doesn't have to be done the way it has always been done!

You can do things your own way!

You can experiment, have fun, and do it the easiest way possible!

And finally...remember that all-encompassing Plutonic punk "fuck it" attitude whenever you need a little reminder!

Throw a few seeds in the dirt, and see what happens. Throw a handful of seeds in a pot in your windowsill, and see what happens. Visit a Farmer's Market just for the hell of it, and see what interests you.

Growing even a little of your own food or herbs is good for the soul. Seeing things grow that you planted is good for the soul. Being around plants and soil and air and sun is good for the soul.

One pot of basil in your windowsill can give you fresh herbs for the summer. Grow some more, and you can dry the leaves for use all year round.

Don't let the hardened, hardcore gardeners intimidate you. You can do it your way. You can learn as you go."

And remember: YouTube and online searches are a gardener's best friend. There is plenty of simple, basic, do-it-yourself information out there to help us along and also more advanced techniques and tips when we are ready for those.

My first garden was made by my dear old Dad on a road allowance with his tractor and disker. Just a small scrap of a garden with no water source. It barely rained that year, and my veggie output was minimal. But I was hooked. 

You can read about more of my adventures in gardening here

Monday, May 1, 2017

The North Node Enters Shiny, Happy Leo, and There's Almost Too Much Goodness to Contain in One Article!





 

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