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 6-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 longer, 6 pieces that are shorter, 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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