The language of symbols through the medium of alchemy is one of the oldest forms of communication on our planet, and my absolute favorite. I love the simplicity and history encompassed in a single image. I stumbled across this fantastic retrospective by Guity Novin today. She is a really interesting artist of Iranian descent, and has an interesting perspective on the art of alchemy. It’s long, but I have to share it with you.
“A Hag’s Guide to Spring Cleaning” by Alexis J. Cunningfolk
“Scrub your skin with the dirt from a hollow hill.
Brush your body with raven feathers and the blessings of a million hags gone before who have never given a shit about the what looks “nice” to others.
Take all the pots and pans out of your kitchen, clean them with black salt, and bring them outside with your spoons and knives. Make a racket to wake up the earth and let the neighbors know that their local hag has woken up from winter slumber.
Water your garden with the tears shed by those suffering from fragile masculinity to help them grow towards their heart instead of their fear.
Stitch up your worn out clothes with the red thread of intersectionality and luck.
Scare the life back into your heart by grinning so loudly in the mirror that you can see every tooth, fang, and monster song gurgling forth from the back of your throat.
Go to a crossroads, turn to the east, and spit three times so that you never forget how to find your way back.
Stain your lips and fingers with the blood of berries.
Braid thorns into your hair and rub rose dust into your eyebrows.
Never say you’re sorry for making it to another spring. Cackle instead and celebrate the ugly bits that have kept you alive.
Lace up your boots with the stories of your ancestors raging against powers they were told were unbreakable but have long turned to dust.
Greet your witchen kin with right hands grasped, left hand over the heart of the other, foreheads touching. Breath in, breath out. Say, “I fucking love you.”
Remember that hags like you grow like weeds and springtime will never be the same. “
CURRENTLY: Sun at 18 Gemini Mercury at 11 Cancer (weak) Venus RETROGRADE at 11 Gemini (neutral) Mars at 17 Pisces (weak) Jupiter RETROGRADE at 26 Capricorn (fall, very weak) Saturn RETROGRADE at 1 Aquarius (rulership) Pluto RETROGRADE at 24 Capricorn Neptune at 20 Pisces (rulership, strong) North Node at 29 Gemini
Last Thursday’s Full Moon ECLIPSE in Sagittarius will continue unfolding this week, AND over the next six months. We are rebirthing ourselves, our lives, and hopefully our society, into a world that supports and values everyone. On a personal level, YOU are unique, and you have a precious, singular contribution to make to the world. Just be careful out there folks, we’re still in a pandemic.
The Sun square Mars from last Saturday is still effecting us for a couple of weeks. Don’t over-focus on what other people are doing, instead put energy into YOUR goals. Controlling other people, or criticizing their reactions to the state of the world, is a waste of time. Respect the paths of other people, even if they doesn’t make sense to you. The Sun (Soul and vision) squaring Mars (action and drive) can make us restless and cranky with perceived road blocks. There’s steps each of us need to take in order to move forward right now – usually involving Saturn (discipline and hard work).
Mars is activating and energizing the sign of Pisces right now – the sign of our collective unconscious. Venus is going through her retrograde cycle, which is commonly seen as her descent through the underworld. She will be reborn soon as the Morning Star. Issues, both personal and collective, that have been repressed and denied are coming up for air now and demanding to be acknowledged.
Speaking of squares, there’s another major one happening all year: Pluto at 24 Capricorn square ERIS at 24 Aries. This aspect is rare, chaotic, and will be with us for the whole year! These two planets are the furthest away from the Sun in our solar system, and represent regeneration. Pluto brings evolution through the healing of repressed, toxic energy, and Eris brings change through discord, for the forgotten and oppressed sides of our culture. I hope things will settle down in our country, but I doubt it with this aspect in play. The best way to utilize these energies, is to make sure your side of the street is clean, and your life is organized. Have you been projecting your problems onto others? Do you owe anyone an apology?
Monday, June 8th: Moon void-of-course all day, then into Aquarius at 5:54pm Pacific. Follow routines and planned activities. Moon will be contacting Pluto, Jupiter and Saturn (the Covid point), so stay out of social complications and arguments with other people.
Tuesday, June 9th: Moon in Aquarius. Let the genius in you come out and play! People will be friendly but unemotional, so work towards forward progress. Look for positive developments in society today, since Aquarius is the sign of humanity.
Wednesday, June 10th: Moon void-of-course in Aquarius ALL DAY. Day of continuity from yesterday’s developments. A void Moon always means to lay low and follow well-laid plans. Stay away from risks or negotiation, instead stabilize what’s in progress.
Thursday, June 11th: Moon in Pisces. Creative and peaceful day. Listen to music. Sun (Soul and vision) square Neptune (dreams) is exact in the early morning. There’s some action we need to take to see the path ahead. Neptune aspects often bring fogginess and a feeling of being lost. Don’t be discouraged by this, just be creative and focus on self care.
Friday, June 12th: Moon in Pisces. Keep listening to music and focusing on creativity.
Saturday, June 13th: Moon void, then into Aries at 2:03pm Pacific. We will be full of energy and ambition today, however, Mars conjunct Neptune is exact which can confuse our efforts. Get yourself grounded and centered before undertaking anything. Bring some compassion into your day.
This is the most important thing a person an learn in their lifetime, and if you were never taught, you can learn it. Mastering this will make your life much better – in every possible way. If you struggle financially, or with loneliness, this could be part of it.
“It’s a shame so few of us are taught the basics of how to interact constructively with each other. If you never were, we’re here to help.
Learning social skills can be difficult if you weren’t exposed to traditional group dynamics as a child, if you struggle with a mental illness like anxiety or depression, or even if you just didn’t have a lot of positive role models when you were growing up. Young people tend to learn how to manage their own emotions, recognize those of other people and manage them both effectively by socializing. If these weren’t skills you developed growing up, don’t worry. You’re not alone.
The social foundation: emotional intelligence
Before we get to specific social situations, we should discuss the concept of emotional intelligence (or E.I.). Put very simply, E.I. is your ability to acknowledge your own emotions, recognize emotions in others and use that information to guide your behavior. This is a relatively new area of study in the field of psychology, and developing your own E.I. can help you understand and improve your social interactions.
There are several models of emotional intelligence, but for our purposes, we’ll look at the author Daniel Goleman. He outlines five general categories of E.I. that complement and support one another.
Self-awareness: This simply means being able to identify your own emotions and how they work. Are you anxious in loud environments? Do you get angry when people talk over you? If you know these things about yourself, then you’re practicing self-awareness. This can be more difficult than it sounds, but simply being aware of yourself is all it takes for this step.
Self-regulation: Taking it a step further, self-regulation deals with your ability not just to know your emotions, but manage them. Sometimes that might mean handling them as they come up. If you get angry, knowing how to calm yourself down is important. However, it can also deal with managing the emotions you will face. If you know that stalking your ex’s Facebook is just going to make you feel bad, self-regulation would help you go do something to better your own life instead.
Motivation: External factors like money, status, or pain are powerful motivators. But in Goleman’s model, internal motivation is a key component. This means that you know how to manage your own motivation and create or continue projects because you choose to, not because something outside yourself demands it.
Empathy: It’s just as important to be aware of the emotions of others. This might mean developing the skills to recognize how people are expressing themselves — can you tell the difference between someone who’s comfortable versus someone who’s anxious? — but it also means understanding how other people may respond to the circumstances they’re in.
Socialization: This area deals with your ability to steer your relationships and navigate social situations. It doesn’t mean controlling others, but understanding how to get where you want to be with other people. That might mean conveying your ideas to co-workers, managing a team, or dealing with a conflict in a relationship.
Every social situation is different and there isn’t always a “correct” way to handle any of them. However, when viewed through the lens of these core competencies, most social situations become a lot more manageable. We’ll go over some common scenarios even adults might struggle with, but keep in mind how these principles can apply in all situations.
Constructively confront someone
Confronting someone when you have a problem with that person can be scary. If you’re the type to avoid conflict, you might rationalize it away by saying you want to keep the peace, or you don’t want to upset anyone. However, this can be a way of avoiding your own feelings. If there wasn’t something bothering you, there would be nothing to confront anyone about.
Dr. Ryan Howes, a clinical psychologist, explained to Psychology Today that it’s our own fears that keep us from confronting others. Our fear that we’ll lose something we have, that we’ll hurt someone we care about, or that it will hurt but accomplish nothing. One of the first steps to constructively confronting someone is to recognize that fear in yourself and identify the real issues that led to the conflict in the first place. If you’re annoyed that your partner forgot your birthday, for example, ignoring how you feel about it won’t resolve the conflict.
Once you’re ready, Gregg Walker, a professor at Oregon State University, recommends having the conversation when there’s time to discuss the issue, focusing on “I” statements like “I feel hurt that we didn’t do anything for my birthday,” and describing behavior and your reaction to it, rather than hurling accusations. Healthy confrontations require a fair amount of awareness of your own emotions, so this is a good time to practice that skill.
Speak up and be heard in a group
Whether it’s a meeting or a party, any time you get more than a couple of people together in a group, it can become difficult (if not impossible) to get a word in edgewise. While most tricks on how to combat this involve managing how you talk — pausing in the middle of a sentence rather than the end, or finishing your sentence even if someone tries to interrupt — an often overlooked issue is managing how you react to being talked over.
It would be great if everyone was polite and let you finish or paused to ask what you’re thinking. This doesn’t always happen. If someone interrupts you and you become annoyed, that can kill your motivation to speak up again. Or you might become visibly agitated and demand to be heard, which can be off putting and make people less likely to want to listen to what you have to say.
Instead, Chris Macleod, counselor and author of “The Social Skills Guidebook,” suggests accepting that group conversations are a “vortex of noise and chaos” and going with the flow. Don’t spend all your time trying to fit in that one thing you badly wanted to say. Instead, go with the flow of the conversation and look for new opportunities to jump in. When you do, speak loudly and with confidence. More practical tricks like keeping your stories short or framing a complaint as a story can smooth over the experience, but regulating your own frustration and annoyance is the foundation these tricks build on.
Make (and keep) new friends as an adult
When you’re young, making friends can be relatively easy. School often means that there’s a group of people you’re required to hang out with who are your age. You may share some interests, and you’ll see one another almost every day. As an adult, it can be harder. Everyone’s busy, everyone’s tired, and time feels in short supply. Or so it seems. What really may be lacking is motivation.
As Vox explains, one of the most important keys to developing a new friendship is, well, showing up. You both say, “We should hang out sometime!” but for some reason you never do. Why? Sure, you have things going on, but you still managed to binge watch the latest “Stranger Things.” There’s nothing wrong with a little “me” time, but it’s also O.K. to spend some of it reaching out to someone new.
When making new friends, you have to start with some internal motivation. Decide for yourself that you’re going to make friends and then put yourself in situations where that can happen. Take a class, join a club, or just talk to people you know but aren’t friends with yet. More important, follow up. If you find someone you want to be friends with — and especially if there are indications that person wants to be friends with you, too — put it on the very top of your to-do list to follow up. You’ll be surprised how easy it is when you do it on purpose.
Strike up a conversation with someone new
Talking to a stranger for the first time — whether it’s at a party, a work event, or just on the street — can be complicated. You never know less about someone than when you first meet them. That’s also something you can use to your advantage. People like to talk about themselves. So much so that, according to research from Harvard University, people will sometimes even give up money to be able to talk about themselves.
You might feel awkward or uncomfortable when you’re out on your own, but practicing a little empathy can reveal a powerful truth: So does everyone else. Research from the University of Chicago found that less than 47 percent of its participants believed a stranger would be willing to talk with them. In reality, every attempt was successful. Most of us are willing to have a conversation, we just don’t always want to be the one to make the first move.
However, not everyone is open to a conversation with strangers all the time. An easy way to check is to pay attention to what they’re doing at the time. Are they wearing headphones? Do they seem in a hurry? Are they at their job and only making conversation as part of their duties? If so, you might try again later (or with someone else). If they’re not busy, start by saying hello or opening with a compliment. From there you can keep the conversation going with the “insight and question” method. Simply offer an observation or insight, follow it up with a question, and let the conversation flow naturally.
These are far from the only social situations you might find yourself struggling with, but the principles that can be applied are nearly universal. Acknowledge your own emotional state and manage your needs and feelings in a constructive way. Take the initiative to pursue the social outcomes you want, and empathize with others who are dealing with the same struggles you are. With practice, the rest of the complex nuances of social interaction will flow a lot more naturally.
Gertrude Abercrombie’s “The Stroll” (1943). Credit Credit Oil on fiberboard, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Gertrude Abercrombie Trust
Loneliness is a worthy foe, and with the rise of social media, most of us are suffering from it in some form – especially this time of year. It’s easy to feel isolated in tense family situations or even parties.
So how do we cope? I’m glad I ran across this article today. It has some fantastic actions we can take to combat loneliness, especially this time of year. Along with the list from the article, I would add these things:
Having a social life and human connection is important for us to thrive in our lives. A lot of people are shy about reaching out, or inviting people to do things. Do It!! Same sex friendships are particularly important in my opinion. If you have trouble meeting people then volunteer for something you care about…. and/or get a pet.
Animals are awesome. If you don’t, or can’t, have one, volunteering at the local shelter is a great way to interact cats and dogs, and to be of service at the same time!
Go to a Gym
It took me awhile to build up to it, but now I go three times a week. Working out keeps my blood moving and my endorphins running. I think more clearly, and I’m able to make better decisions. And I have more energy. Exercise is the best thing for everyone.
I’m personally sober since 2005, but if I wasn’t I would severely limit alcohol and stay away from drugs. In my experience these things end up making loneliness much worse.
This time of year is next-to-impossible to eat right, but I SO stay away from eating sugar. It keeps my blood sugar steady throughout that day so there’s less moodiness.
Good Night’s Sleep
I strive to get a good night’s sleep every night – which means eight solid hours in a dark, cool room.
List ten things you’re grateful for when you feel low and it will completely change your thinking and mood.
Walk in Nature
I take a walk in nature everyday with my dog. Looking at trees, grass, and feeling the warmth of the sun brings me lots of joy.
It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. You’ll probably improve as you go along anyway. I’ve taken multiple creative paths and it feels so good to create something. Write something or pick up and instrument… or a pen!
Be of Service
Get out and be of service to people. Being of service in some way is crucial.
Get a New Job
I know from experience, if you’re unhappy with your job, you HAVE to make a change. Life is too short and we spend too much time there. Anyone can do it. Make a plan, get some training or education, and DO WHAT YOU LOVE.
Mercury conjunct Sun in Scorpio allows us to connect with our soul’s purpose and express it outwardly. We go deep and finally say things we’ve been repressing or hiding. It’s time to be as authentic and real as possible.
Monday, 11/11: Moon in Taurus. Mercury crossing the Sun is the BIG thing today! It brings fresh ideas, new beginnings and clarity. We see the next phase of our path and we move towards it. This is a rare event that won’t happen again until 2032! Today we are also within the orb of the Full Moon in Taurus tomorrow, but first the Sun conjuncts Uranus, bringing an air of rebellion and independence.
Tuesday, 11/12: Full Moon in Taurus 5:34am Pacific, Sun in Scorpio. The Moon is exalted – in it’s best position – in Taurus, which allows for grounded thinking. We can sort through our emotions and make solid choices on the best direction.
Wednesday, 11/13: Moon in Gemini on the day of Mercury. Since the planet is currently retrograde, our focus is on researching, re-doing and re-working. Lots of chattiness and socializing too.
Thursday, 11/14: Moon in Gemini. Kind of a weird day with the Moon opposing both Venus and Jupiter during their square to Neptune. Facts evaporate as we grasp them, and the progress we made earlier in the week seems like a far off dream. Go with the flow and avoid excesses.
Friday, 11/15: Moon in Cancer. We slow down and turn our minds towards taking care of ourselves. Emotions rule the day, and comfort food is encouraged. Avoid confrontations because feelings are highly sensitive and you may not be forgiven.
Saturday, 11/16: Moon in Cancer. The Moon opposes Saturn and Pluto today, casting a melancholy shadow over our affairs. Try not to ruminate on yourself too much – or on the intentions of others. Distract yourself by going to an uplifting movie, or being of service to a friend in need.
Sunday, 11/17: Moon VOC in Cancer. It’s a “nesting” day of getting the house in order and cooking some nice meals.
Sun at 8 Libra
Mercury at 26 Libra
Mars at 27 Virgo and Venus at 20 Libra
Jupiter at 18 Sagittarius
Saturn at 14 Capricorn
Uranus, Neptune retrograde, Pluto going Direct.
Be clear this week about what you have control over and what you don’t, because this week we face our shadows. The days are noticeably shorter, and the veil between the worlds is thinning, as we move towards Halloween. This is underlined by Pluto turning stationary Direct in Capricorn on Wednesday. It’s one of the most intense events of this year. Pluto raises toxic energy to the surface for us to face and release, moving us towards regeneration. This week we face our Shadow and shed our skins.
Pluto is also the planet of karma, and when it changes direction we experience a karmic shift. We are deeply transformed, and we are able to release fears and blocks that are holding us back from becoming the best version of ourselves. Saturn and Pluto going Direct together points us to some of the most important issues of our lives. Be alert to messages, and don’t let your fears or negativity block your path.
Monday 9/30 – Moon in Scorpio today. Keep things low key and avoid power struggles or confronting anything. Focus instead on transformation. The mood could be heavy tonight with Venus squaring Pluto at 9:15pm Pacific. This can bring catharsis to creative projects, friendships and romantic relationships. Try to find workable solutions and harmony.
Tuesday, 10/1 – Moon in Scorpio still, so take it easy. Make sure you’re well rested and well fed as Pluto slows down above us. Good outlets for this shift are embracing the truth, staying grounded and working hard on things you love.
Wednesday, 10/2 – Pluto is stationary, or standing still in the sky, and moving Direct (forward) at 11:39pm Pacific. Whatever internal growth you’ve been experiencing over the last five months is changing direction and is ready to be expressed in your life. If you’re able to put all of your energy towards things you have control over, you’ll be less likely to get into power struggles with people, which is important this week. Remember, Pluto brings reformation, but also healing and rebirth.
Thursday, 10/3 – Moon in Sagittarius today, so thankfully the mood is a little lighter. Mercury enters Scorpio in the early morning hours, bringing emotional depth to communication. Avoid obsession, or digging too deeply into the psychology of others. Keep communications as loving and balanced as possible, since Scorpio can be too blunt about the truth. Work on shadow integration and transformation instead. Mars goes into Libra (its detriment) in the evening, bringing a slow down to action.
Friday, 10/4 – Moon into Capricorn. Focus on work and what you’re producing. Projects or events can be hard to get off the ground, and the energy is kind of serious for a date night. Practice patience.
Saturday, 10/5 – Moon in Capricorn. Get the chores done this weekend. Work in the garden, tidy up the house and cook for the week.
Sunday, 10/6 – Moon into Aquarius in the evening. Mercury (in Scorpio) also opposes Uranus (in Taurus), at 11:15pm. That’s a lot of electricity in the area we already covered this week. Watch your words, and put energy towards expressing your genius. Don’t waste your time on people that can’t hear your views.
Dolce & Gabbana. Beautiful image of a Caduceus, the ancient duality symbol of Mercury.
Sun at 5 Virgo. New moon in Virgo on Friday at 3:37am Pacific
Mercury enters Virgo (it’s ideal position; exaltation) on Thursday 8/29
Mars at 6 Virgo and Venus at 8 Virgo.
Jupiter at 14 Sagittarius
Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto retrograding.
We are in the dark of the moon, preparing for the rebirth of a New Moon this Friday. Clean your house and get yourself organized; if you do you’ll be ahead of the curve. Virgo is the sign of organization, service, practicality, detail, purity and the focused mind. It’s the only Earth sign ruled by Mercury. This allows Virgo to take practical steps towards achieving ideals and dreams. Virgo makes goals into a reality. Because of this unique quality, I believe Virgo is closely related to the occult and Magick.
Because Virgo is ruled by the airy planet Mercury, it brings us messages through our mind’s eye and inner voice. Mercury speaks to us through signs and omens, and from this process we are guided to the right path. You can make use of this energy right now, whether you’re a Virgo or not.
Here’s the upcoming astrological events:
Thursday 8/29: Moon void-of-course in Leo all day; into Virgo at 4:57pm Pacific. Mercury moves into Virgo which places Mercury in it’s exalted position. Wednesdays are perfect for Mercury Magick for the next several weeks.
Friday 8/30: New Moon in Virgo at 3:37am Pacific. The Sun, Moon, Mercury and Mars are traveling tightly together and trining Uranus in Taurus, which brings some unexpected circumstances to this New Moon. There’s also a need for liberation, and the desire to express one’s genius – all of this happening in our jobs, homes or health (Earth issues). Just go with the flow and honor your deep feelings.
Saturday 8/31: Moon into Libra at 4:08pm. New Moon still in effect today. Avoid being overly analytical about all the great movement happening now. Exercise your mind and avoid crankiness, since Mars is still in play in the morning. Thoughts get loftier in the evening.
Sunday, 9/01: Moon in Libra. How do we move forward in a balanced way? How do we include friends and family, work and play, into our dreams and visions for ourselves? All of us need other people for sharing, encouragement and companionship. The Sun and Mars form a conjunction in Virgo today, which happens only once every two years. We want to put action into our souls’ desires.
New Moon in Cancer on Tuesday.
Mercury at 2 Leo.
Mars into Leo Monday, 7/1.
Venus at 26 Gemini.
Jupiter at 17 Sagittarius, retrograde.
Saturn, Pluto at 20ish Capricorn, retrograde
Monday 7/1: Moon in Gemini, into Cancer early evening. Careful not to offend anyone today; avoid social complications. Mars into Leo at 1:20pm. We are in the orb of the New Moon, a solar eclipse in Cancer, and emotions are near the surface. People are hyper-sensitive and unwilling to face conflicts. Go with the current of your life, and put your energies towards things you have control over.
Tuesday 7/2: New Moon, Solar Eclipse at 10 Cancer at 12:16pm Pacific. Avoid confronting anyone today – but allow yourself to be indulgent. Aries, Cancerians, Libras and Capricorns, be on your best behavior this week; keep yourselves well rested. Good day for creativity, love, tending plants and animals, opening up and clearing the house. We begin a new monthly cycle today.
Wednesday 7/3: Moon in Cancer all day. Simmering tensions can erupt, so keep your cool until you can approach a dispute in a calm and neutral way. Try not to take things personally.
Thursday 7/4: Moon in Leo. Today is a better day to seek acknowledgement and cooperation from those in leadership positions. It’s a good night to go out and socialize.
Friday 7/5: Moon in Leo. Definitely go and see a show.
Saturday 6/22: Moon into Virgo. Today we balance the books, do weekly shopping and get organized. Tackle anything requiring attention to detail.
The Sun is in Cancer until July 21st; cruising along with the North Node and opposing Saturn and Pluto at various points. This is a month of extremes, and balancing the need to nurture others with the more important task of taking care of ourselves. Learn to be your own Mother, and don’t depend on others to fill that role.
Cancer is ruled by the Moon, which rules the tides of our emotions, maternal instincts, fruitfulness, creativity, the womb, and other concepts around nurturing. It’s the most nostalgic of the signs, which means Cancerians are deeply connected to their families and ancestors. They are in spiritual communication with ancestral places and people. This quality also lends itself to psychic ability. They feel what’s going on with their surrounding people and environment.
Traditionally, the sign of Cancer is seen as the personality closely connected to the Home. Wherever Cancer falls in your chart, that is the place where you experience great sensitivity and fertility. Also, Cancer rules the 4th House, which symbolizes our Home and Family roots. This makes Cancer uniquely gifted at communicating with house spirits and earth deities.
Because Cancerians “feel” things so tangibly, it’s difficult to have deep, real, constructive communication with them. They are like the crab on the seashore that moves side to side to avoid conflict – and often resort to passive-aggressive behavior. They hide in a thick, hard shell and are obsessed with security. They can be extremely moody as well. But on the whole, they are fantastic people to associate with, due to their vulnerability. They teach us all that emotions are real, important, and need to be valued and expressed to live a full life.