Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Decidedly Feminine Grand Fire Trine Forms For Equinox: Take Full Advantage

 Hallowe'en Preview!
Witchy Woman

Venus (love/females) in Leo, Pallas Athene (female warrior) in Sagittarius, and Uranus (revolution/shaking things up) in Aries are currently forming a gorgeous and dynamic Grand Fire Trine strongly in effect through the end of this upcoming week.

All three bodies are forming flowing, 120-degree aspects to each other from the fire signs, indicating creativity, exuberance, and inspiration as we move through equinox and into fall in the northern hemisphere. (The Sun enters Libra, marking equal hours of light and dark, on September 23.)

Venus in Leo forms an exact trine to Pallas Athene at 18 degrees Sagittarius on September 20/21 and then moves into an exact trine to Uranus at 19 degrees Aries on September 22.

Pallas Athene in Sagittarius forms an exact trine to Uranus at 19 degrees Aries on September 24.

All this indicates that the female/feminine force is leading the way in creating a future we'd actually like to live through on this planet. Join this heart-surge, and blaze your own path through.

Venus in Leo is just getting back up to full speed direct after a retrograde period from July 25 to September 6. We are officially in a new eight-year creative cycle, and things are absolutely ripe for new creations, new styles, and new ways of showing our love to the world (and to ourselves). Reach to the full depth and breadth of your heart, and express what is there. You will not be sorry.

Take some risks with your personal style, clothing, hair, make-up, or artistic pursuits this week. Try a new look that you've been contemplating for a while. We're expressing the Aquarian-era versions of ourselves now, and a little shake-up of personal style and expression proves refreshing and catalytic.  

Saturn has just re-entered Sagittarius (September 17), coming out of hell-friendly late Scorpio, and this in and of itself is reason to play a little!

With the influence of the female warrior in Sagittarius, there's some battling of patriarchal b.s. involved here. There's also some battling within ourselves as we reveal - and live - our own truth and nothing else, shedding internalized rules that need no longer apply in our lives or in our selves.

There is freedom from old ways, selves, constructs, and relationships here. Just pick up your own creative thread and go with it. Delight yourself, and you will delight the world. (Or at least, those who are important for you to delight.)
Catch the wave from the gorgeous fire energy this upcoming week, and be you, fabulous you.

Take no prisoners. Make no excuses. There's no one else quite like you. Show this to the world this week. Be radically yourself, come what may.

Shine on, beauties!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Saturn Re-Enters Sagittarius

Saturn is now completing its last couple days in inky-potent late Scorpio, re-entering Sagittarius on September 17 at 8:49 p.m. CST, where it will remain until December 20, 2017.

Saturn is still moving through its retrograde shadow at this time, meaning the challenges on our plates are somewhat familiar to us. We've been working on them for a while. 

Saturn will now move through the first four degrees of Sagittarius, bringing challenge, progress, and/or resolution related to events and situations that first gained prominence in our lives from late December 2014 to mid-March 2015. 

Saturn clears its retrograde shadow on November 7, 2015, entering the next leg of its journey in the sign of the sage. 

I will take the opportunity to re-post an excerpt from my article on the Saturn in Sagittarius transit. Please note: this is not a new article. It was originally released at the beginning of January 2015. For readers who are not patrons, the article is available in its entirety for $12 by PayPal or by email money transfer.

Saturn in Sagittarius: Freeing Suppressed Truths With Our Blazing Arrows of Righteousness - originally posted on the blog January 2, 2015

Saturn in Sagittarius December 23, 2014 - December 20, 2017
Saturn retrograde March 14 – August 1, 2015
Saturn is back in Scorpio June 14 - September 17, 2015

Pallas Athene in Sagittarius December 28, 2014 - November 1, 2015
Pallas Athene retrograde period April 20 - August 11, 2015 

With Saturn transiting Sagittarius, there is certain knowledge we absolutely must have in order to navigate the times successfully. If we do not already have this knowledge securely under our belts, we must obtain it step-by-step over the next three years.

Over the next three years, we will be confronted - personally and collectively - with situations that bring us to a broader understanding of the truth. This will not always be pleasant. Contrary to what many may believe, we are not promised a walk-in-the-park Saturn transit just because the taskmaster planet has moved on from deep, dark Scorpio. There will be a lightening of emotional and psychological loads in some ways, but challenges certainly remain.

We are challenged to build on what we learned and saw and came to understand while Saturn in Scorpio was holding our noses in the corrupt power structures and difficult emotional/psychological subtext of Planet Earth.

We cannot just forget about it and go searching for greener pastures elsewhere - though many will try...

Fear Driving People to Regressive Belief Systems and Figureheads 

Coming through the sometimes bleak awareness of down-and-dirty reality on Planet Earth brought front and centre by the Saturn in Scorpio transit, people will be searching for meaning, for a candle in the window, for something to buoy their spirits. But we do not find these things without effort (Saturn). Strong caution is advised if new meaning and solace are found too quickly or seemingly too easily...

Animal and Nature Guides - What They're Showing Us Isn't Always Pretty  

The situation with sea life in the Pacific Ocean is another instance where the animals are telling us things that aren’t very pretty. In fact, they’re pretty horrifying. Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began in March 2011, sea life has been disappearing from the Pacific, most visibly in the tidal pools. Not a single baby orca whale has survived off the West Coast since 2011. Multiple animals are showing up sick, convulsing, with lesions. Multiple populations are collapsing. The sea life in the Pacific is screaming for our attention, and this will continue throughout the Saturn in Sagittarius transit...

Being able to penetrate the rhetoric of establishment academics, scientists, physicians, and media with the cold, hard facts is an ability we will need if we are to be successful moving forward from here.

This is an excerpt from the article "Saturn in Sagittarius: Freeing Suppressed Truths With Our Blazing Arrows of Righteousness," originally sent out to patrons January 2, 2015. It is a 7,100+-word document of astrology magic describing themes and aspects associated with the three-year transit of Saturn through Sagittarius. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Mercury Retrograde Basics

Mercury retrograde symptoms are popping up a little early as we move through the first of three squares between Mercury in Libra and Pluto in Capricorn (exact today), and this provides a good opportunity to re-post this article on Mercury retrograde basics:

Three times per year, Mercury appears to stop in the sky and then move backward through the zodiac for three weeks before turning direct again. This period of time is called a Mercury retrograde, and it is becoming known by more and more people – even those who are not usually interested in astrology.

Some of the most marked characteristics of Mercury retrograde periods are: information-related confusion or mistakes, plans changing, people changing their minds after receiving new information, difficulty communicating or connecting, and glitchy electronics.

Mercury will station retrograde at 15 degrees Libra on September 17 (12:09 p.m. CST), and it will remain retrograde until turning direct again at 0 degrees Libra on October 9 (8:58 a.m.). Mercury will be moving slowest on the days around the stations (September 15 - 19 and October 7 - 11), and these periods of time could be particularly frustrating with confusion, mental stress, and communication breakdowns.

Traditionally, Mercury retrograde is not considered a good time to sign contracts, make deals, or solidify plans. This is a period of time when we are going back over things, coming into new information and perspective that we may have missed the first time around, and it’s very common to change our minds – sometimes more than once – during this three-week period. It’s a “thinking it over” period of time as we gather, disseminate, and process more information. For this reason, making hard-and-fast decisions during Mercury retrograde can be difficult, if not impossible. We have to be very adaptable, adjusting as perspectives and plans change.

Our minds are basically moving in reverse during Mercury retrograde, and we’re required to slow our brains down. This can be challenging during these often-frenetic times with people glued to cell phones, computers, and social media. However, Mercury retrograde is definitely not a time to push full speed ahead mentally, verbally, or with written communication, or Mercury retrograde “symptoms” will pop up.

Some of the glitchy aspects of Mercury retrograde periods include:

- Communication problems, delays, glitches, mistakes, and misinformation, both written and verbal.

- Telephone lines, internet, TV, radio, faxes, electronics, and computers can go a bit haywire: delayed connections, e-mails or texts that don’t go through, messages sent to the wrong people or messages that seem to disappear into thin air, slow or no internet connections, computer programs that refuse to work, television and telephone problems.

- Transportation problems with both private vehicles and public transportation. Transportation break-downs are more likely. Transportation may be late. We may take the wrong turn. We may receive the wrong directions. Air travel during Mercury retrograde can be especially challenging.

- People have a harder time understanding each other. We're forced to slow down or go back over things in an effort to be understood. We may have to repeat ourselves. Misunderstandings are common that have to be ironed out during or after the Mercury retrograde.

- A feeling of déjà vu: didn’t I just say that? Didn’t we already talk about this? Things come back up for review and revision during Mercury retrograde. Old conversations, connections, ideas, and information come up for a second look. We rediscover crucial information that perhaps we didn’t realize was important before, and we receive missing details so that we can move forward with plans once Mercury goes direct.

- A lot of mental processing related to what’s going on in our lives. "My brain hurts." Headaches, stiff necks, mental overload, and burnout are possible during Mercury retrogrades if we don’t consciously slow things down. Overactive minds can keep us up at night.

- General delays and a feeling that things have slowed down. Having to wait on things, especially electronics.

- Any job involving information or working with the public can be especially stressful during Mercury retrograde periods. This includes reporters, writers, teachers, administrators, data entry, waitresses, bartenders, retail, other service workers, and any job that involves some degree of public speaking or information processing.

So remember: slow it down a little. Don’t force a lot of new information between your ears at this time. Mercury retrograde periods (including the shadow periods when Mercury is in degrees of the zodiac to which it will return during the retrograde) are periods of review and revisiting information and details we may have missed the first time around.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mercury Retrograde in Libra and Wrapping Our Minds Around this Summer's Big, Bold Venus Retrograde

Mercury retrograde September 17 - October 9 from 15 to 0 degrees Libra

Venus has just gone direct at 14 degrees Leo (September 6), and we begin in earnest a new eight-year cycle pertaining to love, relationships, values, aesthetic, and money.

This is a complex one, however, with Venus forming squares to Saturn and conjunctions to Jupiter. Getting this new cycle off the ground successfully is going to take a little more time and a little more effort. There are layers upon layers here.

The summer of 2015 was very intense and very concentrated. As with most Venus retrograde periods, it was also bittersweet. An eight-year relationship cycle was coming to a close, and many relationships were coming to a close with it. Many break-ups were announced and acted upon, including, with the strong influence of Saturn, long-term couples. In my community of less than 300 people, three long-term married couples separated over this Venus retrograde summer.

This is an excerpt from the article, "Mercury Rx in Libra and Wrapping Our Minds Around this Summer's Big, Bold Venus Retrograde." It is available in its entirety to Willow's Web Astrology patrons.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Clutch Positions

 Hexagon Astrology Magazine being enjoyed in the Canadian grasslands
Photos: Willow's Mama

With the planet of karma and heavy challenges (Saturn) on the inky-potent final degree of Scorpio until September 17, we are in clutch position, friends. Don't underestimate the power or potency of this position, despite its potential difficulty.

If we work diligently and dig deeply enough, we have the ability to set things right on emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, energy exchange, and power-sharing levels in ways that will release us and heal us (and others) in desperately necessary ways.

We're working ourselves out of some very old traps. 

Saturn on this degree of Scorpio really throws it down. This is the power of being utterly honest with ourselves so that we can be honest with others. It's the power of living an authentic life without the life-wrecking disturbances of artifice, manipulation, or deceit. It's the courage to address and solve some major structural problems that have long drained our energy and time.

We are running into multiple instances of structural energy deficit now - people being asked to give too much with too little support or help or money or recognition received in return. This dynamic is built right into hierarchical power structures (particularly involving the money system), and it feeds those structures, allowing them to continue. The structures as they exist have been set up in this way so that some people are asked to give too much and work too hard, while others simply enjoy the spoils of that imbalance.

This is the basic structure of consumer capitalism these days, trickling down to human relationships, family dynamics, and many other aspects of life within a consumer capitalist society. This energy deficit has been built right into "the way of things," and we are forced to confront and change this however we can as Saturn transits the final degree of "merged energy" Scorpio.

With Pluto (poison, hell, impetus for transformation) halfway through the sign of Capricorn (structures, government, business), most of the current structures don't function unless there are people running themselves into the ground with other people benefiting from it.

Saturn at 29 Scorpio challenges us to expose these unsustainable and unfair dynamics, choosing to re-structure things in a way that is more free, just, and energetically righteous. Determining exactly how to accomplish this is easier said than done, but we're feeling it out every step of the way.

This is ancestral stuff, too, the stuff of the soul lineage, and we have the opportunity to release the spirits of all those who have been enmeshed and ensnared in the same traps of the human condition.  As we work our own way out of unsatisfactory and stultifying dynamics, our work benefits others, as well, including in the spirit realms.

We're releasing some old, trapped ghosts, too.

Scorpio is an intuitive sign. It's about feeling things out down to the very last twinge, trusting our own radar, and having the courage to take decisive action on the things we are feeling and sensing.

So we are tasked with waiting and feeling things out and being patient until the natural solution (or the next step toward the natural solution) comes up to the surface and makes itself known.

There is a karmic inevitability to things now. Things have been set in motion in ways that cannot be entirely altered.

To a great extent, our current circumstances have been determined by the decisions made and movements taken by others in the past. We're working with elements of tradition, elders, structure, and long-time protocol.

Now, we have a profound chance to grind out a new course, to progress beyond long-ingrained patterns, to change our lives, relationships, and the world at large in foundational ways. To make things better, less hellish.

Think: a long-time victim of domestic abuse finally collects the strength, energy, will, resources, and courage to leave her/his relationship for good. No going back. No being reeled back in. It's just over. It's just done. There's no more pull, no more attraction to being treated like that. It's simply time to move on with Saturn at 29 Scorpio.

However, we also have the opportunity to carry forward a whole lot of bullshit and emotional/psychological hell for the next 28 years if we'd rather avoid the lessons, challenges, and growth work that Saturn at 29 Scorpio has placed on our laps.

As stated, this is a very decisive moment. It's a clutch position that in many ways determines our emotional, psychological, and perhaps financial comfort (or lack thereof) for almost 30 years, including for loved ones after we are gone. It determines whether things are set on the right energetic foundation or whether we allow our weaknesses or laziness or fear or just plain fatigue to sabotage things.

Scorpio is a sign of transformation and change brought about by often brutal confrontations with reality. Basically, with Scorpio, the situation as it stands is so detrimental to our emotional, psychological, and/or soul health that we'd rather die than stay where we are. Scorpio is just that hardcore, yes. It's a matter of life or death, even if it is soul death rather than physical death.

With Saturn on 29 Scorpio, we are determining the moves we must make now, despite their difficulty or fearfulness, in order to set things right in our lives for the long-term.

And with love, money, value, and relationship planet Venus stationing direct in Leo (September 6) and kicking off a new eight-year relationship cycle, we are looking to set things right in matters of the heart, in particular.

Scorpio and its ruling planet Pluto involve "moth-to-flame" themes with a tendency to attractions and compulsions that just aren't good for us. Something in us is attached to the energy of it, can't let it loose no matter how much we may desire to do so.

With Saturn on the final degree of Scorpio, an area it will not revisit for another 28 years, we are being tested on these moth-to-flame attractions. We are being confronted by some of our deepest fears, along with the knowledge that some of these fears are actual reality. We're also being tested to see whether we will pick an "older and wiser" path this time or whether we go right back into that flame. 

We must take absolute responsibility for our attractions as well as for the ripple effects our actions have in the minds and emotions of others close to us. 

The 29th degree of any sign, also referred to as the anaretic degree, is a very tired degree. It's an "old soul" degree. It can't take much more of this crap.

So be gentle with yourselves and others as we all work our way out of dynamics of structural energy deficit, as we all work our way out of unsatisfactory relationship dynamics, as we all work our way out of the tail-end of the mindfucks brought to us during the Saturn in Scorpio transit (October 2012 to September 2015).

We can change things with Saturn on 29 Scorpio, but there is no energy to waste. In fact, there is barely enough energy to get us through. If we're careful, cunning, and courageous, we can set things on a new and better course this September. We can eliminate the energy-sucking traps and moth-to-flame draws and seal those suckers out of the framework of our lives and relationships for good.

We're too old and tired for that shit anymore, anyway.

We will receive a progress report from late October 2015 through early March 2016, after Saturn has re-entered Sagittarius, as the personal planets transit Scorpio. Remember one of Saturn's laws: diligence now makes for an easier time of it later.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Fear

 Photos: Willow

Saturn is currently sitting on the end of the sign of Scorpio, stirring up a whole mess of fear. This is "deepest, darkest fears" territory, which is rarely any fun at all.

Saturn is completing the final weeks of its mutual reception with Lord of the Underworld Pluto in Capricorn, so you had to expect a little something nightmarish with this Grand Finale double dose of Scorpio/Capricorn and Saturn/Pluto.

The fears (depression/paranoia/dread) could seem to come out of nowhere, dug up by the relentlessly slow motion of Saturn regaining speed after the August 1 direct station at 28 degrees Scorpio.

Saturn hasn't gained much speed or distance since then (think "relentless crawl"), so we could be feeling quite stuck under the same old challenges that seem to have no easy solutions. The gut-churning emotional and psychological challenges could be quite thick until Saturn breaks into lighter territory in Sagittarius on September 17. When Saturn re-enters Sagittarius at 8:49 p.m. CST that night, the transit of Saturn through Scorpio as well as the mutual reception to Pluto in Capricorn are officially complete.

For now, we're locked in. Dreadful Saturn has us in its grip.

Malefic planet Mars in Leo is closing in on a frictional square to malefic planet Saturn in Scorpio, which will not be exact until September 25 when both planets have (mercifully) ingressed mutable signs (Mars into Virgo and Saturn into Sagittarius). But this slowly-forming square between the two malefic (ie. potentially less pleasant) planets in the fixed signs of Leo and Scorpio could stir fears and frustrations to almost intolerable points over the next month.

Mars square Saturn indicates a feeling of being between a rock and a hard place with nowhere beneficial to turn. One way is hard, the other way even harder. Our movement and personal will can be painfully constricted under the influence of this aspect. Our challenges and "what we have to do in the world" can seem overwhelming. We're just sitting under it all, spinning our wheels.

Saturn has a way of convincing us that our troubles are always going to be this hard, that life is always going to be this difficult. (Not the case!) But with Mars rubbing up against Saturn in Scorpio in a frictional way over this next month, certain points will seem acutely difficult, if not impossible, to navigate.

This is said not to scare anyone - just that there is nothing "wrong" with you if you experience some difficult or frustrating points between now and late September.

Saturn has the ability to make the things it touches concrete, real, material. And our deepest, darkest fears are sometimes proving more real than we would like under the tail end of this Saturn in Scorpio transit.

These could be fears we may have thought were already confronted, settled, resolved, and accepted but are now circling round to get at us again, and this can be depressing.

(Saturn is back where it was in December 2014.)

It's difficult to see our way out of this glut of fear (though we will work our way out of it). In many ways, we have to accept the things we see and sense. The stone-cold reality on Planet Earth is not much of a comfort these days once you lift all the rocks and look in all the nooks and crannies.

But one comfort we have is this: we're not alone with this terrifying mess. We're all struggling with the icy, suffocating grip of fear at times. We're all existing under the weight and karma of Saturn in tail-end Scorpio. Personal challenges can seem insurmountable now to the vast majority of people on this planet, not just to you and me.

So when it seems there's nowhere to turn to make it feel any better, when Saturn is hell-bent on exposing our terrors, as it is now, we have to endure with the understanding that there are those who shoulder it alongside us. We're all struggling with the sickly grip of personal terror and collective horror at times. How could we not be considering the state of things on this planet? Facades indicating otherwise can easily be cracked by just one more event going awry.

Don't let the fear isolate you. You're never alone with this.

It's not all bad, either:

Benefic love planet Venus Rx forms a conjunction with malefic Mars at 14 degrees Leo on August 31 (11:04 p.m. CST), providing a little boost of love, support, and fire. The Venus-Mars conjunction is often considered a boon for relationships with the feminine and masculine planets coming together.

Lovely Venus goes direct at 14 Leo on September 6 (2:29 a.m.), and the love, money, and relationship planet moving forward again should come as a relief - or at least provide a change of pace. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Hexagon Astrology Magazine is Hot Off the Presses!

Hexagon Astrology Magazine is soon to be hitting mailboxes!
Hexagon Astrology Magazine is a beautiful, high quality, and cutting edge print publication being put out by editor, founder, astrologer, and friend of Willow's Web Astrology Matt Savinar from Sebastopol, California.
Your anarchist astro-reporter has three articles appearing in the premier issue, and there is a wealth of other rich content from a variety of intelligent and interesting writers. 
Hexagon is a fabulous addition to the current astrology scene, and it will introduce us all to astrologers and astrological perspectives that would not be found in any other publication.
Matt and his designer have done an incredible job. This is one smoking hot publication. Other astrology publications wouldn't touch my writing, so you know this magazine has some serious depth, integrity, and potency. Some cages are going to be rattled.

If you appreciate smart, courageous, cutting edge astrological writing, you won't want to miss this.
You can buy a copy of Hexagon for $10 U.S. (including shipping) at this link:
Buy Hexagon Astrology Mag 

Please Note: Due to unexpected costs and customs red tape, Hexagon is currently not available by mail to Canada. Matt is hoping to start shipping to Canada at a later date. Sorry, Canadians!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Venus Retrograde Square Saturn And Purchases that Require Some Extra Elbow Grease

I live in an apartment in an old character building up a long, winding staircase of about 30 stairs that has many awkward angles to navigate.

When I moved in, I furnished the place with funky garage sale finds and hand-me-downs, and I was very happy with the results, even though I only had two ancient easy chairs as living room furniture. If worse came to worse, I could get every item of furniture I owned down the stairs by myself.

Over time, though, I started hankering for a couch to stretch my legs out on and maybe for a little extra seating for guests. I imagine it's a bit odd these days to walk into someone's place and find that it has room to seat only two people. Not great for socializing!

Still, I could not gather the nerve to ask anyone to help me haul a couch up those stairs. I certainly didn't want to have to ask my poor, hard-working senior citizen father. Despite the fact that he is still strong and agile with "rancher pipes," it just didn't seem like a good thing to do.

(Where-oh-where is my strong-backed husband, universe? *snicker*)

So for the past two years, I've stuck with the Easy Chair Duo. And I haven't invited many people over.

I did spot what appeared to be a great deal on a second-hand love seat and chair on a garage sale site a few months ago. The set was in great shape, it was in the area being sold by people I knew, and it was a great price. But still, who would help me bring it up those stairs? I really hate asking anyone to help me do anything like that (though I would generally not think twice about helping someone do something similar), so I didn't make a move on it at the time.

The post was taken down a little while later, and I assumed someone had snapped it up.

But at the end of July, months after I saw the original post, I saw the woman advertising it again.

This time, I couldn't pass it up.

Now, I'm well aware of the astrological caution not to make big purchases when Venus is retrograde. It's a karmic time for money and physical possessions, and if you can avoid it, you should.

But I also understand that some people are never without karmic conditions around these things (your anarchist astro-reporter being one of them with a tricky Venus placement in the natal chart).

And sometimes things do seem to naturally come together during a retrograde period. You can't fight it.

So I called the seller to tell her I would come look at the set and that I would take it if it would fit up my stairs.

I knew my Dad would lend me his truck and help me load the furniture into it, but I tried to find a local strong back to help me get it up the stairs to my place. I offered to pay $25 or whatever the person thought was fair, but I had no luck, so I had to draw my strong-yet-seniorly father into service, after all. What's a girl to do? I couldn't exactly haul a love seat up the stairs strapped to my back.

So my Dad and I went to pick the love seat and chair up, and as per the photos on the garage sale site, the set was in great shape. Thankfully, it was also quite light. I did notice that the couple had a dog, and I have allergies to pets, but in the past, a good vacuuming and the use of packing tape to pick up errant hairs had done the trick, so I didn't think it would be a problem.

We loaded the love seat and chair into the back of my Dad's pick-up, brought it into town, and wrangled it up the winding stairs.

I got out the vacuum and gave it a good going-over. I actually had to pull the dog hairs out by hand under the cushions, as they were so embedded in there. But I finally removed the hair of the previous owners' beloved Pug.

I thought all was well post-vacuuming and dog-hair-removing, but I did notice that the furniture had a bit of an "air freshener" scent to it. It was fairly faint, and I didn't immediately think it would be a problem.

I was wrong.

Every time I sat on the couch or chair, I would have an allergic reaction to that scent. My lungs would start to tighten and fill, and I would get the standard itchiness going on.


Was Venus retrograde karma striking your anarchist astro-reporter?

The furniture seemed so perfect! The price was so great! We'd wrangled it up those stairs in the heat of summer, grunting and sweating! Was it too good to be true, even after two years penance of living without a couch?

I had a pretty strong suspicion that the offending scent was Febreze, a chemically spray advertised to "get rid of odours." The well-meaning previous owner had likely sprayed the couch and chair down with Febreze hoping to get rid of any dog smell. However, I have intense chemical sensitivities, so her good intentions had some unintended results.

I started doing research online. Apparently, it is somewhat difficult to get rid of Febreze.

Uh-oh again.

Not to give away the ending of this absolutely scintillating little story from my life, but, in honour of Mercury transiting Virgo (detailed, specialized, and kind of anal), here are my Tips for Getting Rid of Febreze on Second-Hand Furniture. This set is micro-suede, but this may work on other fabrics, as well:

I started with vinegar and water solutions. The first couple times did not eliminate the Febreze odour, so each time I wiped the couch and chair down, I used progressively stronger solutions until I was using one part white vinegar, one part water. (You can probably just start with that concentration.)

I wiped the furniture down with a wet cloth soaked in the vinegar-water solution three separate times, saturating the fabric but not making it dripping wet, and let it air dry completely with the windows open each time.

This process definitely helped matters. The Febreze smell was growing more faint. However, the sniff test and my continued allergic reactions told me I was not quite getting to the root of the problem with the vinegar and water.

So I upped the ante with Dr. Bronner's peppermint castille soap. Dr. Bronner's is a natural liquid soap. I don't have any allergic reaction to the peppermint scent, but people with bad allergies should test it ahead of time.

I made a strong soap solution of about 1/8 cup peppermint Dr. Bronner's and 3 cups water. I had one pail with the soap solution and one pail with clean water (and a separate cloth).

I shampooed the couch and chair with the soap solution first, scrubbing every part of the fabric with the soapy cloth, and then went over it with the wet cloth and clean water to remove the soap.

Again, I let it air dry overnight with the windows open.

And again, the Febreze smell was still faintly apparent. (It really is somewhat difficult to get rid of that stuff!)

So I upped the ante again by adding peppermint essential oils into the soap solution and also into the rinse water.

I repeated the shampooing, scrubbing, and rinsing process and let it air dry again.

That did the trick. The Febreze smell was gone. But now I had a fairly strong peppermint essential oil smell with an underlying smell of vinegar. Not bad, definitely better than Febreze, but still not the preferable smell for a couch and chair.

So the final step in the Febreze-ridding process was to use unscented Dr. Bronner's soap in a solution, repeating the shampooing and rinsing of the furniture fabric. After that had dried, I was left with a tolerably slight scent of peppermint and vinegar, which I hope will fade over time.

(Editor's Note: Hot weather seemed to re-activate the faint Febreeze smell from beneath the couch and chair cushions, so I gave them one final dousing with full strength vinegar and allowed it to dry. I followed this with another shampooing with Dr. Bronner's unscented soap in water mixed with some Thieves essential oil. This has eliminated the smell, but I will repeat the process if the Febreeze rears its ugly head again!

Editor's Note Part Deux: the Febreeze did rear it's ugly head again, so I rubbed raw onion slices on the problem areas and then left the onion slices on them overnight so as to absorb the smell. Yes, raw onion smell is preferable to Febreek (the reek of Febreeze). Any natural smell would be, to be honest! So far, the raw onions have done the trick. I will re-apply later if necessary.

Editor's Note Part Trois: onion juice ftw! If you prefer the slight whiff of onions to the whiff of Febreek (and I do 100%), raw onion juice and slices will overpower the Febreeze smell, and eventually the onion smell will dissipate.)

Overall, I do think it's a good idea to avoid making big purchases during Venus retrograde if at all possible.

However, it's not always possible to avoid buying during this time frame, and it is also potentially a time when things will fall into place on their own, offering you opportunities that are too good to pass up. This is especially the case if you have an overly karmic Venus placement of your own, as I do. It's almost as if the Venus retrograde motion negates the usual "bad luck" and screwiness around these issues for folks like us.

If you do make purchases during a Venus retrograde, especially a Venus retrograde in square aspect to Saturn, and particularly a Venus retrograde in square aspect to Saturn in Scorpio, you can avoid frustration by expecting that your purchases may be more work that you imagined! (Venus has been within range of a square aspect to Saturn since the end of June. The final Venus-Saturn square occurs October 10.)

But with a little extra elbow grease (or a lot, as the case may be), you can come out on top with a bargain purchase you are happy with.

(Though this particular bargain purchase might need another shampooing or two to be completely acceptable...)

The Willow pad

Not to be gushy about it, but with this new-to-me furniture, I feel as if I can settle into a real home. After a whirlwind of moving 45 times in 17 years, putting roots down in my own home was something I didn't know if I would ever experience.

Owning grown-up furniture feels pretty darned good, and the fact that I got a bargain makes it even better. Now I can sit on my (slightly pepperminty, slightly vinegary) furniture and feel that I'm home. Very grateful for that.

Just one further note on the "Venus Rx Purchases That Require a Little Extra Elbow Grease":

I'm an intense bargain shopper. I can only really be certain that something is for me if I get it on sale. I'm a huge fan of Winner's, Dots, and other clearance places.

I've written before about my take on over-priced jeans way back in 2009 when I was working at Art of My Heart: "Tales from the Retail Frontlines Episode #2 - the Value of a Dollar."

But secretly, I always wanted a pair of rich girl jeans. Just one pair. I wanted that soft, stylishly-distressed-to-look-lived-in fabric covering my ass just like it would cover a rich girl's ass. Don't ask me why I coveted these ridiculously over-priced appropriations of working class culture. I just did. But I knew I would never, ever be able to justify the price tag.

Well, friends, I now own not just one pair of rich girl jeans but three pairs. And I got them all on sale at a local store (in a town of 1,500 people, no less) for $20 per pair. Yes, I got a pair of jeans originally marked a staggering $264.00 for just $20. Truly amazing.

The Venus retrograde hitch?

Two of the pairs needed to be hemmed. (Are rich girls' legs longer than the rest of ours? Because I'm five foot 10, and they were still almost three inches too long for me.)

And one pair had to go back a second time because they were left too long after the first hemming.

But again, with a little extra elbow grease (by the tailor, sure) and a bit of extra driving to and fro, Rich Girl Jeans Dreams have come true for Willow.

(Please note: I'm definitely poking fun at myself here. I realize these "jeans dreams" of mine are shallow and silly. But still...they came true during Venus retrograde!)

And now, I get to wear my rich girl jeans to my job slinging beer at the honky tonk dive bar.

Couldn't be more excited about that!