Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Mercury-Black Moon Lilith Contacts, Censorship, and Reporting From the Fringes

Media and communication planet Mercury forms an exterior conjunction to the Sun in Aquarius today (6:52 p.m. PST) at 9 degrees. 

These bodies continue travelling in conjunction until Mercury enters Pisces on February 10. The Sun and Mercury are also forming conjunctions to Black Moon Lilith (BML), the point of deep, dark, denied feminine experience. 

This indicates that the Sun is shining its light on outsider (BML) information (Mercury) and on those who write, speak, and share that information. 

Reporting from the fringes!

Mercury-Black Moon Lilith contacts can indicate perspectives that are inflammatory or disturbing to a more mainstream or establishment mindset (even pseudo-alternative varieties), and these outsider perspectives can sometimes create hostile backlash for the marginalized messengers. 

There's some bounce-back, some rejection, some ejection, some circling of the wagons associated with Black Moon Lilith, and when winged messenger Mercury is involved, this particularly relates to information, ideas, and communication. 

As a person with a prominent Mercury-Black Moon Lilith contact in the natal chart, I'm offering up an illustrative tale here from my 20-year experience as a writer and reporter who has always, through no intention of my own, had a very hard time getting my work included in the public discourse - both mainstream and alternative versions.

Before I became the ass-kicking anarchist astro-reporter whose words you are reading here today (heh), I briefly worked in mainstream media.  I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and communications from the University of Regina, Saskatchewan. But even way back in journalism school, the BML writing was on the wall. 

I came to understand quite quickly that the media outlets as they existed would not allow me to do the work I needed to do. I knew they wouldn't accept my perspective or the perspectives of people like me as fully legitimate, as deserving of a voice and a real place at the table. 

So I've carved my own path out as an independent journalist and writer. People of a more establishment-friendly persuasion often look down on this type of path (not to mention, on blogging, in general) as less prestigious and less important work. 

(I recall being introduced to a fairly well-known astrologer who had achieved her fame doing newspaper horoscopes. I was introduced to her as an astrology blogger and "one of the best astrological writers out there." Her question to me was, "But have you actually written anything?")

Despite this public perception, I can say with absolute certainty that the work I've put out on my own is exponentially more powerful, meaningful, effective, and necessary than the work I would have been doing, than the work I would have been allowed to do, from a more institutional or establishment media platform.

The Black Moon Lilith-ian message of this story for you, readers, is to understand the power of your own pure and potent voice, even when it seems to fall on deaf ears, even when it is blocked or dismissed by others, even when it is not accepted into the public fold or given a broader public platform. Know that your undiluted voice is more powerful - and more necessary - than a million middle-of-the-road perspectives blending together so as to be indistinguishable from each other. Don't allow anyone to diminish your voice simply because it doesn't fit the standard moulds, simply because it doesn't have a category, simply because it makes someone uncomfortable to hear it. Speak. Write. Put it out there. Even when it seems that there is no one to tell. I guarantee you - someone's listening.

When I was but a youthful willow tree on my journalism school internship at a daily newspaper in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I saw for the first time in real life (ie. outside the pages of Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent) how the news is filtered. 

It was November 1999, and I wanted to do a story on some local people who were travelling all the way from Saskatoon to Seattle, Washington for the protest of the World Trade Organization meetings being held there. 

So I gathered my courage, walked up to my editor's desk, and pitched the story to him. I was promptly informed that it was a non-story and that I would not be covering it.

I walked back to my desk wondering, how could this possibly be a non-story? I mean, that paper wasn't above re-writing press releases for a story. If local people doing a Multiple Sclerosis fundraiser run or erecting a statue in a city park was news, how could local people driving all the way to Seattle for a protest of this sort not be a story?

I had my finger on the pulse here! I'd heard the buzz about this protest. I knew it was going to be big, and I knew this editor was wrong. But what could a lowly intern reporter do about it? Not much.

Three days later, the story had absolutely blown up in worldwide media. The Battle in Seattle! Tens of thousands of protesters from around the world were on the verge of shutting down the meetings! Unheard of!

My editor came up to my desk and said, oh yeah. I guess you were right. Do you want to do a story on it now?

So I did the story. I talked to the protesters about why they were there, including the behind-closed-doors nature of the meetings. But when the story ran the next day, it had been censored. Anything the protesters said that was critical of the Canadian government had been removed. When I asked the copy editor about it, I was informed that I couldn't publish stuff like that. 

The protests continued to be headline news. Sensationalized photos of the protesters getting gassed by police were splashed all over mainstream media.

My editor came to me again and asked me to do another story about how out of control the protests were getting.

Instead, I interviewed the protesters and wrote their views: that the gas and the police and the sexy photos shouldn't distract from the real issues, from the real reasons the protesters had driven all the way from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Seattle, Washington to protest.

That story ran on the very last page of the City News section. It was buried as far back as it could possibly be buried without them axing it altogether, following even the wire stories.

That was my first understanding of how the news the public receives is filtered and shaped. If it even makes it into the paper/onto TV at all, it will be shaped into what is considered "acceptable." Now, this might seem pretty well self-evident at this point. The mainstream media doesn't tell the full truth? It only promotes certain perspectives coming from certain types of people? Big news flash! 

But this was almost 20 years ago, recall. People were nowhere near as media-savvy as they are today (and I wouldn't even call most people media-savvy at this point). The internet was in very early, dial-up stages at that time.

So this hit me like a tonne of bricks. I realized in that moment that publications like these only employ people who will naturally fall in line with the "acceptable standards" and that I would never be one of those people. I would never be able to go along with it. Writing had always been a sacred thing to me. A gift. Something that literally kept me alive. It was not possible to corrupt it for a prestigious job and a sweet paycheque, no matter how much pressure was put on me to do so. (And oh boy, there was pressure.)

In that moment of life, I knew the work and the writing I was on this Earth to do could not be done from a mainstream media platform. And that's a pretty big realization to have when you're a farm-fresh gal one year away from a journalism degree with a big student loan to pay back.

For that reason, when I graduated and my professor got me a job interview with CBC TV news, I did the interview. I accepted the job as "researcher" for the supper hour news show in Regina.

A conservative Torontonian from the private sector (CBC-ers often kind of looked down on the private stations' news due to its more advertiser-friendly, watered-down coverage) had been hired as head honcho of the newsroom. He was basically there to impose the “VJ” or video journalist system as a cost-cutting measure. In other words, reporters were now expected to shoot and edit their own stories as well as writing, researching, interviewing, etc. It would make many camera and editing jobs redundant, not to mention the fact that it would make doing a decent, in-depth news story almost impossible due to the time and energy constraints of the reporters. So this was a bit of a tense time at old CBC TV news. Just in time for Willow to show up.

My time at CBC coincided with the lead-up to another big protest - of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meetings in Quebec City in April 2001.

Again, I was pitching stories about this. Again, I was brushed off. 

I learned that RCMP officers from Saskatchewan were being called in to be part of the police force at the protest. In fact, I learned that the Liberal Jean Chretien government was bringing in officers from all across Canada, as well as members of the army. The police/military presence was going to be immense, something, at the time, that was unprecedented in Canadian history. This was a huge expenditure of taxpayers' dollars.

Of course, this was of little interest. The public not picking up after their dogs in the off-leash dog park was a much more important story.

I remember a reporter taking me aside and telling me that the head honcho was dropping the ball, that they should be giving me a camera so I could go to Quebec to cover the story.

It just so happened that my contract ran out just before the protest. I ended up leaving CBC (a mutual decision) and going to the FTAA protest with a group of people from Saskatchewan. Driving non-stop, day-and-night, from Regina to Quebec City in a 15-passenger van. Not fun.

The powers-that-be had learned from the Battle in Seattle, where protesters were able to get the upper hand and shut down the meetings by filling the streets around the convention centre. This time, in Quebec City, they had erected a huge chain-link fence, cordoning off the blocks surrounding the convention centre where the meetings were to be held. Police in full riot gear stood along the fence on the inside perimeter. Luxury cars carried VIPs through the fence at a policed checkpoint.

Marching along the fence at the FTAA protests, Quebec City, April 2001
Photos: Willow
These photographs aren't the greatest because they were taken with disposable cameras. I was afraid to take my real camera in case it got smashed or confiscated. 

The Free Trade Area of the Americas trade agreement had never been made public (as most of the “free trade talk rounds” were kept undisclosed). They were trying to extend already-controversial NAFTA to Central and South America without public consent. There was also word that water and health care were to be turned into free trade-able commodities, subject to free trade rules (ie. no protection, no government subsidization).

The fact that the heads of business and state were holed up in their meetings behind a huge chain-link fence patrolled by riot police was a pretty fitting symbol of the lack of transparency in our so-called "democracy, " no? 

Tin soldiers and Chretien's coming...

We started our march at Laval University, where we were staying, marching and chanting peacefully through the streets in quite a fun and high-spirited manner as we made our way to the fence. People were drumming and laughing and making noise. We were enjoying being together. Once we got to the Chain-Link Beast, we literally just stood at the fence watching the police standing on the other side of the fence. Some people made speeches. There were some dancers. People decorated the fence with paper flowers and other art. That was it. But soon, the police were launching CS gas grenades at us. Pepper spray powder. Spraying us with a water cannon filled with some sort of chemical that burned when it hit your skin. Later, shooting us with rubber bullets that left big, red welts on the people they hit, including my friend. The gas was everywhere. People were being overwhelmed. 


People fleeing from the evil gas

 The water cannon

I stepped in a mound of pepper spray powder which flew up into my eyes. They burned and watered, and I couldn't see at all. There were some DIY medics going around rinsing people's eyes with water, and luckily, someone saw me and doused me. (Thank-you, angel!) 

 DIY medics washing pepper spray out of a protester's eyes

One of the freakiest things I have ever seen was when a string of police - all in full riot gear and gas masks, shields and batons at the ready – came out from behind the fence. They moved in formation, like a centipede, to try to drive us away from the fence. No longer individual humans. They were a machine.

For two days, we held our ground. Some people had invested in gas masks. We Saskatchewanians had discussed it but since we were on such a shoestring budget, we didn't follow through. To make due once we were in Quebec City (and once we were being bombarded with massive doses of CS gas and pepper spray powder), we learned to soak bandanas in apple cider vinegar, tying them around our noses and mouths so we could withstand the gas. 

And it worked. The goon squad used so much gas against the protesters that the wind blew it back into the convention centre, and they had to shut down the meetings!

Gas mask drummers

A historical use of combined police/military force and chemical warfare, paid for with taxpayers' dollars, against peaceful protesters on Canadian soil: I was sick from the gas for weeks after I returned from the protests, and I and the other women I protested with got our periods immediately afterwards - something in the gas messed with our hormones. 

And also a historic moment for public protest in Canada: even with the fence, we shut down their meetings! (Sure, it was because they gassed the shit out of us in such an extreme way that it seeped into the convention centre, but I'll still take that as a win...) 

And yet, this was not warranted news-worthy by media in Saskatchewan. 

The Free Trade Area of the Americas protests in Quebec City in April 2001 were the beginning of the normalization, in "peace-keeper" Canada, of massive police/military presence, chemical warfare, and major expenditure of taxpayers' dollars to insulate bigwigs from the people protesting at their mucky-muck meetings. 

The G20 meetings held in Huntsville and Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in June 2010 escalated this further to include illegal searches, surveillance of organizers, mass arrests of peaceful protesters, and the roll-out of energy weaponry in the form of Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs). The price tag for the Canadian people was over $1 billion for the G20 police state.

I wrote extensively about this escalation on the blog (see G20 label), including the astrology of that G20 summit, which occurred under a Capricorn Full Moon partial lunar eclipse exactly conjunct Pluto within a cardinal t-square formation that involved almost every body in the zodiac (Jupiter-Uranus in Aries, Sun-Mercury-Juno-South Node in Cancer, Moon-Pluto-North Node in Capricorn). 

Reporting from the fringes. Reporting from the underground. Not out of choice, but out of necessity...

Reeling from the experience at the FTAA protests and not knowing which direction to go in, I tried mainstream media one more time - a thrice-weekly community newspaper in Whitehorse, Yukon. But while I was there, 9/11 happened. I knew instantly that this event was so much bigger, had so many more implications, than I could sum up in a 700-word news article. I didn't even know where to begin. But it was my job to put words down on a computer screen that would then be printed and put into the minds of a public that was trying to make sense of the whole thing. Again, I was confronted with the limitations and (for me) the impossibilities of mainstream media to the point that I knew I could no longer participate. I had to make the break. That was the last time I worked for a standard news organization.

As an astrological writer and blogger, I've mostly stuck to myself, but the few times I've been involved with more public platforms, things have often gone badly.

One censoring I recall was at an astrology blog conglomeration site called AstroDispatch. I had written an article on the very noteworthy astrology of July 1, 2011 (Canada Day), which involved a Cancer New Moon eclipse within a Cardinal Grand Cross formation involving Uranus in Aries, Sun-Moon in Cancer, Saturn in Libra, and Pluto in Capricorn. 

The article, titled, "Canada Day Cardinal Grand Cross Eclipse: Well, Golly Gee Whiz. Look Who's Fuelling the Global Nuclear Industry," outlined Canada's role as the number two exporter of uranium worldwide and a major exporter of nuclear power plants. This was notable, of course, because Fukushima had just blown in March 2011, we were being bombarded by radioactive particles, and it was quite likely that the uranium from the Daiichi nuclear power plant originated in Canada. 

The text of the article was removed from AstroDispatch, though the editor did leave the title up.

I disconnected from the site after that and wrote about the censorship in this May 15, 2011 post: "The Aries Stellium Completes Under a Full Moon In Scorpio."

"Astrology blogs, astrologers, and astrology audiences are differentiating rapidly. Stronger astrological identities are being forged, and the distinctions of politics, perspective, beliefs, and motivation are becoming more important." 

This was memorable for me because it was the first time I had been (knowingly) censored as an astrological writer. It made me aware that censorship and filtering are going on even in supposed "alternative" communities that often tout their inclusiveness and diversity.

In other words: astrology is a false karass. A granfalloon.

The idea of a "karass" comes from the fictional religion Bokononism in author Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle. The word was mentioned on one of my favourite TV shows as a teen, My So-Called Life, and the concept stuck with me.

A karass, according to the fictional religion in this fictional novel, is a group of people who, often unknowingly, are working together to do God's will. The group is held together by a sort of soul-level centrifugal force based on a point of commonality. The people in the karass might not even know each other but act like the fingers that support a Cat's Cradle.

A false karass, called a "granfalloon" in Bokononism, is a group that mistakenly believes it is held together by this type of connection and common spiritual motivation. An example of a false karass could be graduates of a certain university, fans of a certain football team, or members of a certain profession...like astrology.

Astrology can definitely involve karasses, but as a subject in its totality, it has a tendency toward false karass in that people assume if you're "into" astrology, you have this type of common ground with all other people who are. Astrologers are seen to have this common ground simply because they practise astrology. But because there are so many different forms of astrology, so many perspectives, motivations, and ways to use it, this is often not the case. A lot of times, it's as if we're speaking entirely different languages for entirely different purposes, and it's beneficial for those interested in astrology to be aware of this when choosing their astrology sources.

I came into contact with the astrological false karass yet again when attempting to post my work on the main astrology page at Reddit.com. Reddit is a public outlet I've tried on a few different occasions, only to have horrifying results.

I attempted to post my September 3, 2017 article on the astrology of Hurricane Harvey at the main astrology Reddit page. The article, titled, "Hurricane Harvey, the Total Solar Eclipse, and This Era of Unnatural Disaster," was removed (twice), and I got into a hell of a rhubarb with the administrator (ahem, gatekeeper) on that page about the censorship.

This led to him making the following (to me, totally inane) statement: "Resources that discuss conspiracy theories are discouraged in much the same way we discourage palmistry, numerology, and general occult things like that."

I literally don't know a single astrologer who opposes things like palmistry, numerology, or conspiracy research to the point that they would attempt to shut them out, so to have this guy drawing a hard line like that in a public astrology forum was quite bizarre to me. 

I wrote about it on the blog on September 5, 2017: "The Diminishing and Marginalization of "Those Types" of Astrologers Within the Astrology Establishment." 

Let's call it...being BlackMoonlisted.

Even that was not punishment enough for me, though. 

I posted my July 28, 2018 article on Fukushima and the ongoing worldwide media blackout, titled, "Deconstructing the Worldwide Media Blackout on the Ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: California Wine is Just the Tip of This Radioactive Iceberg," on a conspiracy Reddit page. It was promptly (and blatantly) plagiarized by a "Truth-Teller (TM)" type. I found out because he left a hyperlink to one of my articles (not the original article) in the text he lifted. You can't make this stuff up, folks! When I contacted him and asked him to either credit me and link to the original in his article or to remove the content, I received a hostile denial which denigrated my work and research. I then went above his head to Before It's News, where the article was also published. The man was required to add a hyperlink to my original article, but not before sending a hostile and disturbing email threatening legal action if I "opened up [my] big mouth again." 

I wrote about that oh-so-pleasant situation on August 1, 2018: "Willow's Web Astrology is Plagiarized By a "Truth-Teller (TM)" Who Then Lied About It When Caught." 

In this case, it wasn't censorship. It was the pilfering of my work and research and the refusal to give me public credit for it - also a Mercury-Black Moon Lilith theme.

I've even been shut out of public anarchist forums! There are a handful of pet issues (heavy on the establishment liberal ideology) allowed within the current "anarchist scene," and the subjects of my work aren't included in those. It's kind of funny that supposedly anarchist forums and publications are being minded by (mostly 20-something male) gatekeepers, but that has certainly been my experience when attempting to share my information and work with that world. 

So as you can see from this handful of examples, the path of an anarchist astro-reporter (with a prominent Mercury-Black Moon Lilith contact in the natal chart) never did run smooth! I'm sure others reading here can relate - with or without natal Mercury-BML contacts.

It never gets any less unpleasant coming into contact with censorship, mockery, ostracism, plagiarism, or hostile opposition to the bare facts I'm laying down, but it does reinforce to me again and again that creating and sticking to my own potent little channel of information is the way to go. It's the only way to go. Whether that has any prestige to others is not really my concern. 

But I do know that I very much appreciate people who refuse to have their words filtered, watered down, or otherwise moulded to better fit consensus reality (or a paid gig). I like the other BML motherfuckers out there who refuse to bow down or shut up for the convenience or comfort or reward of others. I know these people are changing things for the better by taking the tougher path, and in my world, that's about as prestigious as it can get.

So have I written anything?


I've written some things.  

(Shout-out here to Matt Savinar, editor of Hexagon Astrology Magazine, for being the only more traditional publication that has published my astrological writing! And with minimal editing!)

Mercury Conjunct Black Moon Lilith and "Outsider Information"

One form of self-publishing I've gotten into in the past few years is the making of zines. In light of the current astrological energies and their “outsider information” themes, I thought I would share a little with you about this pursuit.

Zine templates

Zines are mini-magazines that are hand-made and self-published. Pretty much anything can go into a zine, but they often involve writing, photography, art, and/or activism. There’s a long history of radical political pamphlets being made in similar ways as a way to share political information or journalism. (“Radical” is a word that can instantly put people off, but let’s recall that the subjects considered radical are dependent on the time and location in which you are living. At one point in the not-too-distant past, it would have been considered terribly radical to publish sociopolitical literature written by women, by the poor, or by people of certain races. And to be frank, poor people still ain’t getting published.) 

If your creative output or perspective doesn’t fit neatly into the categories/institutions that currently exist, self-publishing can be another avenue for getting your work to the world.

Zines or pamphlets have traditionally been used as a way to share information or perspectives that are not being included in more standardized publications (newspapers, magazines, books, websites). 

In particular, these have been produced and distributed by punks and anarchists, and these publications fit the punk/anarchist m.o. for a few reasons: 

- they’re do-it-yourself (DIY), a primary punk and anarchist ethic 

- a basic zine is relatively inexpensive to create, which means almost anyone from any income bracket can produce one 

- there is zero censorship, outside control, or compromise required since you are writing, producing, and most often distributing the zines yourself. There really are no rules about what can go in a zine.

- they’re raw and not perfect and obviously made by a human who cares about the content: though most zines these days have gotten a little “precious” by my standards (heh), often being made with fancy design software, professional printing, and real covers and such, traditional zines have been quite raw-looking and obviously hand-made. The photocopies might not be perfect. There could be typos or formatting snafus. The pictures might be a little crooked. You might even have to hand-write some of the words that didn’t photocopy properly. This all adds to the character of the zine, in my opinion! 

- there are zine libraries where you can read many different zines from many different perspectives for free (punks and anarchists generally love things that are free to the public!) 

- producing a zine makes you part of a broader zine-making community that draws together a diverse band of self-publishing creative types. An interest in zines is something that can be shared and used to make new friends! (Friendship and community are Aquarius themes.) Almost everyone could use a medium for creating face-to-face conversation and for making friends in these “stuck-behind-a-screen” times, and zines are one of those media.

I now have six zine titles under my belt. You can see details at the Willow's Web Astrology Etsy Shop or on the blog under the button Zines.

YouTube Video: "Mercury-Black Moon Lilith Contacts and Censorship"

Article: "Venus Conjunct Uranus, Open Mic Censorship, and the Apolitical Arts Scene"

Friday, January 25, 2019

A New Moon Conjunct Black Moon Lilith in Aquarius: Exploring the Outer Reaches of Our Emotional Landscapes

"A New Moon Conjunct Black Moon Lilith in Aquarius: Exploring the Outer Reaches of Our Emotional Landscapes" is an article available to Willow's Web Astrology patrons.

This article also includes my 2,500-word primer on Black Moon Lilith and its sometimes-hardcore themes.

If you regularly find Willow's Web Astrology valuable, please consider becoming a patron. Patrons receive rich, detailed astrological articles to their email inboxes that are not available on the public blog. 

You can become a patron for less than the cost of a fancy cup of coffee per month. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jupiter Square Neptune and the Importance of Seeing Through Neptunian Glamour

In honour of the current Venus-Jupiter in Sagittarius square to Neptune in Pisces (the Venus-Neptune square is exact today), what follows is a re-post of an old article on the importance of seeing through Neptunian glamour.

As we are now almost ten years on, I would extend this necessary puncturing of glamour to celebrity of all kinds, as well as to pseudo-alternative controlled opposition, particularly of the puffed-up, "Truth-Teller (TM)" ilk.

Jupiter in Sagittarius (truth, wisdom, teachers) is within range of a square to Neptune in Pisces (illusions, deception, glamour) into November of 2019, and this keeps the maya-penetrating themes at the forefront. 

Too many people these days have their own precious minds and thoughts enmeshed in charismatic wannabe gurus and figureheads, following rather than taking independent action.

I outlined the themes of the Jupiter-Neptune square in my November 5, 2018 patron article on Jupiter in Sagittarius, titled, "Jupiter Enters Home-Sweet-Home Sagittarius: Dismantling Illusions, Deceptions, and the Stranglehold of Controlled Opposition With the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth." 

I also posted an excerpt from that article on the public blog, called, "Jupiter Square Neptune and How to Spot Controlled Opposition."

"So here we are. Tail end of the tail-end Piscean Era. As the winds of Aquarian change blow stronger, the crystallized Piscean Age spiritual set-ups are starting to decay. As with everything, these spiritual set-ups have to change to maintain relevancy and effectiveness. But a lot of people are clinging, clinging to the old forms right now. And oddly enough, as the old spirtuality set-ups become less effective, people seem to want more and more from those set-ups.

I guess people are freaked out by the change and the shifting structures of Pluto in Capricorn, and they're looking for answers.

Fair enough. Things certainly are on the odd side right now and other perspectives can help a lot in making us feel less crazed.

But for the sake of looking in the right places for perspective, there are some cautionary points I'd like to share so people don't get caught up in the collective frenzy and fear being stirred by the changes we're dealing with. It's when you get swept up in that that you can end up getting burned instead of getting the insight and perspective for which you were looking. 

What I'm hoping to arm people with in this article is the ability to cut through Neptunian spiritual glamour to get at what is truly personally valuable and useful - and hopefully with the most effective expenditure of money possible.

So yeah. The industry of spirituality is in full force. Angel readings, past life readings, soul purpose readings, cleanses, books, lectures, workshops, sessions, retreats, crystals blessed by Tibetan monks.

There are a lot of people selling their personal spiritual perspectives and products in these shifting times, and I'm not saying there's necessarily anything wrong with this. We live in a society where money is necessary (for the most part) and people sell their skills, whatever those skills may be.

What I'm saying is, to gain the information and perspective that will be most meaningful to you personally (while getting the most bang for any bucks you shell out), the ability to cut through layers of Neptunian glamour and spiritual ego is a valuable tool.

Now, it's lots of fun to go into a darkened room, candles lit, indigo-coloured tablecloth draped over a table to meet a person playing up the gypsy-hippie-"spiritually-in-the-know" vibe for all its worth. Long, flowing hair. Maybe dreads. Wearing loose, sustainable cotton clothing and magical beads. Maybe some tattoos and piercings. Playing up the "spirit love" eyes. You know, the whole "smiling with your eyes" full of glossy unconditional love and bliss thing. Clasped prayer hands and "Namaste" thrown down as both hello and goodbye. Pouring open the heart chakra to show how spiritually evolved they are.

Yes, it's lots of fun. But it's also something to be aware of as potentially part of the hook - hitting someone with the "I'm so spiritual" Neptunian energy and glazing their eyes over with glamourous sights and sounds, words and vibes. Dropping their supposed spiritual credentials. My father was so-and-so. My great-great aunt was the spiritual adviser of so-and-so. I studied under so-and-so. I was so-and-so's muse. I've lived in an ashram in Sedona. I camped on Machu Picchu. I wrote a book with a foreword by Deepak Chopra. I've been on Oprah.

All this could possibly be impressive to you on some level (it usually just makes me roll my eyes), but it doesn't necessarily mean much to you personally. It doesn't mean this person has the goods.

You have your own story, your own spirituality, your own equally important lineage, and this is something to keep firmly in mind so as not to become overly influenced by the spirity, spirity Neptunian vibes. To keep some grounding and balance.

This advice can be a bit of a bummer and not in the "Super Fun Spiritual Romp" category, so if you're looking for that, disregard everything I have previously written. But if you're looking to deepen your understanding of yourself and the times in which you're living in practical ways, realize that what goes up must come down. Keeping your feet on the ground is very helpful.

I think it helps to ask yourself: Would the information I'm receiving be so mind-blowing if it were being told to me by a plain-looking, balding, middle-aged dude in a sport coat who reminded me of my uncle? (Nothing against plain-looking, balding, middle-aged dudes in sport coats, either - more a commentary on how beauty and spiritual vibrations are sometimes misused.)

Is it about you getting the information and perspective you need for use in your own life or is it more about creating an atmosphere permeated by the supposed spiritual vibrations and impressiveness of the person giving the reading/lecture/workshop/whatever?

We have to make sure we're getting past the realm of parlour tricks and glossy language to the real meat and bones. Substance over image.

Again, except if you're looking for parlour tricks. There's nothing wrong with parlour tricks or resulting Neptunian thrills, except when they're being sold as something with more long-term usefulness and depth.

The power of personality - especially when infused with Neptunian "spirituality," glamour, and charisma - is very seductive. Combine that with "alternative" good looks, confidence, and the particular spiritual understanding the person has developed, and you can see how this may become overly influential. (Cult leaders often use this potent mix of characteristics to suck people in...)

Piscean/Neptunian energy can have an intoxicating quality, and people can become addicted to it. They can take leave of their senses around it. They can also become addicted to the person dispensing it. Tail-end Piscean Era Pisces/Neptune energy, with 2,000+ years behind it, can be especially potent in this regard.

There are a lot of people setting themselves up as spiritual superstars who desire the rewards and perks that go along with that superstardom. The lecturers, the wannabe gurus, the authors of the bestsellers, the YouTube or T.V. personalities.

And there are a lot of people selling stale, old, spoon-fed spiritual hierarchy as Aquarian evolution.

That stuff has most definitely passed its Best Before Date.

There's a fine line between appreciating someone's perspective and skills and setting up the master-student spiritual hierarchy thing where the balance of power can be manipulated, consciously or unconsciously.

Hold your own power always. Don't give it away or allow it to be siphoned off.

There is a promoted Neptunian idea these days that you have to be "open" to everything that comes your way and that this is the meaning of "diversity."

Not to me.

To me, real diversity means being exactly who you are while allowing other people to be exactly who they are. 

As part of being who you are, I think it's absolutely imperative to use your own discernment and your own judgment about what is right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, meaningful and not meaningful to you. This is the Virgo balance in the Virgo-Pisces polarity.

This means if something confuses you, irritates you, or feels wrong, you honour those feelings, take a step back, and figure out what's going on.

This might mean out-and-out rejection of things (or people) you don't find personally meaningful or appropriate.

Saturn in Virgo requires that we take responsibility in this way - defining these things for ourselves, realizing and honouring our personal preferences, tailoring things specifically to ourselves.

As long as people are doing this, there is less chance of tail-end Piscean Age energy being misused for power and profit."

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dystopian Flames

"Dystopian Flames"
Photos: Willow

This five-photograph grouping, along with a supplementary 'zine, is available at the Willow's Web Astrology Etsy shop.

All photographs in this article are part of a photography exhibit I'm doing at a local library. If you live in the wild West Kootenays of British Columbia and would like to know the details about this exhibit, please email me at willowsweb [at] hushmail.com

You can also see a YouTube video on this exhibit.

Planet of concrete challenges, Saturn, is within orb of a conjunction to Hell-ruler Pluto throughout 2019. As this conjunction tightens, becoming exact a single time on January 12, 2020, we are confronted in our concrete lives and realities with all that has been suppressed, manipulated, lied about, and buried (Pluto) within business, corporations, finance, government, and institutions (Capricorn). Things are coming to a head on multiple fronts throughout 2019 and 2020 under the slow-burn effects of this Saturn-Pluto conjunction, and the toxicity and violence inherent in many of the structures and hierarchical pyramid-schemes of power on Planet Earth cannot be denied. 

Saturn relates to what is real, what is concrete, what is tangible, and as it steps further into the murky, netherworld regions of Pluto, we are faced with real, concrete, and tangible confrontations with some of the hellish scenarios that have been manufactured for us on this planet. These confrontations will require some type of effort on our parts in order to liberate ourselves from their weight. 

Whatever Plutonic threads are being plucked in your life, I encourage you to follow them to their roots and address them, working toward concrete solutions both in your own personal life and within human society at large. The personal is transpersonal and vice versa.

Saturn conjunct Pluto in Capricorn requires that we work, step-by-step, for our liberation from the many manufactured and manipulated Hell-scenarios currently running amok. It requires that we demand something better, something more honest, something wholly legitimate, and that we do so from right where we stand.

Our efforts toward liberation from the muck and the murk are not futile (far from it!), despite what we may have been conditioned to think...

These are photographs of open oil flares, well sites, and pumpjacks on and around my parents’ ranch in southeast Saskatchewan. They depict a scene that is very common to see on the prairies. Tens of thousands of open oil flares exist on the Canadian prairies, burning off and releasing toxic by-products of oil production into the surrounding environments, including benzene and other hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Other gases, particularly hydrogen sulfide (H2S), are released from the well sites themselves often in concentrations many times higher than allowable government limits. There is also radioactivity being released from oil well sites. Many well sites and flares are short distances from people’s homes, as there is very little regulation regarding where these can go or how many can exist in a certain area. In many cases, as in southeast Saskatchewan, multiple well sites and flares are clustered into small areas.

I was reprimanded by a battery operator while taking these photographs of a flare on the oil lease. I could tell he was considering confiscating my camera... 

I grew up living amidst oil activity. The foul smell of the gases around the well sites was considered something that was normal to live around. We laughed about it as kids when being driven past a particularly rank oil battery or flare.

In recent years, oil drilling has gone on at a frenzied pace in my home area. The first open oil flare on my parents' ranch went in less than a mile south of their house, and it was like a punch to the gut to see this blazing, toxic orange flame on the grassy landscape. It was alien, dystopian, post-apocalyptic looking. 

Within seven years, there were three more flares surrounding my parents’ home and a couple dozen pumpjacks. Two of these flares are directly across the road from my parents’ house and can be seen from their living room window.

The quiet of the prairie is no longer. The hellish squeal and moan of pumpjacks is omnipresent.


One of the most deadly gases being released from the oil well sites themselves is hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

Multiple independent audits of wells in the area have shown horrifically high releases, many times higher than allowable government limits.  

As reported by the University of Regina journalism school (from which I am a graduate), in a 2015 audit of 43 oil wells in Saskatchewan, poisonous H2S gas was found being released at an average of 30,000 ppm. 

The allowable limit for H2S releases is 10 ppm.

The lethal level is considered to be 1,000 ppm.

The highest level of H2S gas found being released in that audit was 150,000 ppm. 

The Saskatchewan government claims it has found no regulatory breaches by the oil industry that need to be followed up on by them.

H2S is only one of the toxic by-products being released at well sites. When H2S is burned off in a flare, other toxic substances are released, such as sulfur dioxide. A single flare can release dozens of toxic by-products, including benzene and other hydrocarbons, dioxins, and heavy metals. There is no monitoring of these.  

Open oil flares and the releases from well sites have been linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including cancer, autoimmune disorders, heavy metals poisoning, respiratory damage, chemical sensitivity, miscarriages, birth defects, and livestock deaths. Headaches, nausea, and vomiting are commonly experienced after exposure to the gases.

And people live in this. Every day. 

They’re getting sick and dying from this. 

All around these flares and well sites, in the sparsely-populated surrounding areas, there has developed a cancer cluster as well as an increased incidence of autoimmune disorders and other health problems. Very few neighbouring ranches or farms have not been visited by some devastating health problem at one time or another. 

As little girls, my sister and I played with another little girl who grew up on a neighbouring ranch. We rode our bikes or walked down the gravel road to her place to play Barbies or to play with new kittens. She developed leukemia when she was 18 years old, received chemotherapy, moved away, and has been cancer-free since. 

My Dad's childhood friend and his wife lived about ten kilometres from us. His friend's wife developed cancer and has battled it for almost two decades. His friend was diagnosed with cancer more recently, prior to them retiring and moving to town. 

Another rancher and his wife live a few kilometres to the east, close to a huge flare near the highway. His wife was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago and has had bouts of chemotherapy since. He suffered from a disorder that involved vertigo and, at times, had a difficult time doing his work.

That man's brother also lives nearby, a rancher and now-retired battery operator. He drove a circuit five days a week as a battery operator, visiting and monitoring multiple oil sites each day. He suffers from arthritis, inflammation likely caused or exacerbated by the chemicals and gases he was exposed to on the job, and is now in kidney failure.  

My mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia thirty years ago, an autoimmune disorder causing pain, chronic fatigue, and equilibrium problems, among others, and she has suffered with it ever since. She is one of many people in and around the area with fibromyalgia or inflammation/autoimmune disorders like it. 

The medical establishment, the oil industry, and anyone benefiting from those things would argue there's no connection. That it's all just a bit of bad luck. 

But I know better. 

People are scared to speak out. They’re scared to question the activities of the oil industry. The oil industry provides most of the “good-paying jobs” in a working class area that is struggling mightily to survive and to preserve its way of life. 

Surface or mineral rights or an oil job provide the income that often means the difference between a decently comfortable life and constant, grinding financial hardship. 

Many people in the area maintain their farming and ranching cultures, the life that runs through their blood, a life on the land, with income from the oil industry. 

People are scared. So they live like this. 

They gamble their health away. 

They risk a shortened life. 

They look the other way. 

And the government does the same, filling its coffers with oil profits.

The oil industry could pipe these gases underground and capture them. In many cases, the gases could then be used for other purposes. But this would cost the oil industry money. It would require infrastructure. Maybe some new technology. So the current rule is that capturing these toxic gases has to be economically viable for the oil companies. Otherwise, they can use open oil flaring. 

The true cost of oil production is being passed on to the people in this way and to the animals that live and graze around these flares and oil sites. They shoulder the burden for the oil industry with their own ill health and shortened lifespans. 

The dangers of oil pipelines are much-discussed these days. There is much less public outrage and knowledge about the direct threat to human and animal health caused by open oil and natural gas flaring and unmonitored releases from well sites.

Please Support a Ban on Open Oil and Natural Gas Flaring

Please Support Increased Monitoring of Releases From Existing Well Sites 


A documentary by the University of Regina journalism school, my alma mater:

Crude Power: An Investigation Into Oil, Money, and Influence in Saskatchewan  

Willow’s Web Astrology YouTube videos

Post-Apocalyptic Oil Flare Wasteland 

Stop the Oil Industry From Open-Air Flaring! A Toxic and Dangerous Practise



- DYSTOPIAN FLAMES: The True Cost of Oil Production on the Canadian Prairies  -


by Willow of Willow's Web Astrology


- a 24-page pocket-sized 'zine on open oil flaring and the release of toxic by-products from oil production, going on across the Canadian prairies

- includes a photojournalism spread from oil sites in southeast Saskatchewan

$5.50 plus postage

 (approx. $2.50 in Canada or $5.00 in the U.S. for single issues, more for multiple issues or for international)
Please contact me at willowsweb [at] hushmail.com to order, or it is available at the Etsy shop.

All Willow's Web Astrology 'zines can be found here.