Saturday, March 30, 2013

Practical Astrology--What's Your Story?

photo by Patricia Herlevi
Many people still associate astrology with paganism or the occult, in which it does play a role.  However, no one needs to practice witchcraft or draw down the moon, to reap the benefits of astrology.  Personally, I don't use astrology for fortunetelling or magical purposes, but follow Liz Greene and other astrology luminaries examples of combining Jungian and mythological archetypes with astrology to create a self-empowerment tool.  And personally, with my background in the fine and performing arts, I look forward to the day when I join with others to combine astrology, archetypes and the arts.

In his book, "Sacred Sounds," the late Ted Andrews, a well-known metaphysician and animal advocate, combined astrology with music.  Remember that each planet has its own key (and you can find singing bowls and tuning forks related to this), and each astrological sign has its own key too.  In his book, Andrews provided illustrations of an astrology chart with corresponding keys.  Then he smoothed out any dissonance caused by the aspects squares and oppositions with the harmonies provided in the trines and sextiles.  Ingenuous!  He would compose music based on the aspects in the chart and use this as a healing modality.

I have heard of an astrologer in my region who combines improv theater with astrology with a practice she calls Constellation Work.  Actors with astrology knowledge act out the planets and aspects in a person's chart for them, showing the client the shadows and archetypes as well as, the gifts in a natal chart.  Could you imagine a consultation where your chart literally comes to life?

photo by Patricia Herlevi
And of course, anyone can pick up a Moon or planetary guide (usually in the form of a calendar) and track the phases and signs of the Moon each day as it makes its way around the Zodiac.  This way you can choose to make important appointments when the Moon is not eclipsing or void-of-course and in the right sign for that activity.  People often worry about Mercury retrograde and planning around the three Mercury retrogrades we experience each year, but tracking the Moon for best results is equally important.  For instance, the best haircuts I ever experienced were when the Moon was waning in Taurus or Libra or even waxing in those signs. I imagine that the worst haircuts I received were during Moon in Scorpio or Aries. And I would never get my haircut during the shadow of an eclipse.  People are just to tense and shaky at that time.

Here are another few pointers, leave your wallet at home when the Moon is in Sagittarius, Libra or Taurus and definitely leave your credit cards at home during those times.  Otherwise you'll overspend.  And if you want to know about the Sagittarius effect on food consumption, just think of the US American Thanksgiving Day which takes place when the Sun is in Sagittarius.  Everything is exaggerated during that time and waistlines expand.  What were the founders thinking when they chose this day to celebrate the harvest? At least Christmas falls when the Sun is in Capricorn, so it might feel more restrictive and people do worry about their diets during that time, not that I promote worry.

For the most part, we can either react to the planetary transits (which will never stop moving) or we can learn what each transit means so we can plan ahead or take advantage of the best energies and not push too hard during the challenging days.  And if you think that world governments and corporate leaders don't take advantage of the practical uses of astrology, think again.  For instance, we know that the British Royal Family employs astrologers and so did the former First Lady Nancy Reagan during President Reagan's time in office and probably prior to that.  Throughout history kings and emperors employed astrologers and farmers referred to astrological almanacs.  Astrology and medicine back in the day, enjoyed an intimate relationship.  And up until the end of the renaissance, astrology and astronomy also enjoyed an intimate relationship.

Uranus, Wikipedia
Now, when I'm talking practical astrology, I'm not talking about YouTube horoscopes or newspaper horoscopes which were founded by journalists during the early 20th century. I'm talking about using astrology to learn your unique story as found in the layout of planets in your natal chart.  I'm thinking of that song by Diana Ross, "Mahogany" where she sings, "Do you know where you're going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?"  Do you know this song?

Your natal chart acts as a map, as a tool for self-knowledge, and as a psychological tool.  No one on this planet shares a chart with you just like no one on this planet has the same fingerprints as you.  So why would you not learn at least the basics of astrology? Is it because you associate astrology with dark magic or that you feel that astrology and Christianity don't go well together? May I remind you that the Three Wise Men were astrologers?  Astrology is what you make it and the only reason I can think of for not learning astrology or having your chart read by a qualified astrologer is that you would rather live in the fog of self-denial.

I don't know why planets so far away from the earth have an affect on our daily lives, but they do.  The Sun and the Moon have the most intimate effect as we couldn't grow crops without these orbs.  I can't think of anything more practical than growing our food.  But I also think medical astrology works and I think when you learn to read your natal chart and transits, you can match up health problems with aspects in your chart.  I've done this myself and I can always find an astrological connection to a health condition.

So find out what your story is through astrology.  And in the process maybe you can find new uses and forms for astrology that takes us into the Aquarius Age.  Remember that the planets don't control you or even shape your destiny.  You have the power to work with the planet's energies in transforming your life.  I hope you choose this route.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In the Realm of Cancerian

It's too early in the week for me to write my weekly Whole Astrology post, but the Zodiac sign, Cancer has appeared on my radar.  My sister had questions about Cancerians and Cancerian men in particular (though our father is a Cancer).  And last week, I saw a warning post on getting involved with Cancerian men and this scathing warning raised a red flag for me since people not versed in astrology make huge generalizations about signs based on their limited experiences of meeting people with those signs.  Mental illness and emotional problems can show up in any of the 12 Zodiac signs and often times, a person's behavior is a combination of astrological placement, the environment in which he or she grew up, and choices he or she has made and not someone's Sun sign.

As a Cancerian I can say that I know this sign well.  I know how Cancer natives move through life, how they hide their hurt and vulnerabilities through a tough demeanor.  I know that what appears as cold aloofness to others is just the way a Cancer native protects themselves.  All water signs are extremely sensitive emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  When you consider that these folks are psychic sponges whether or not they choose this, you will understand the defenses that these crabs put out--snap, snap, snap.  I feel snappy on some days too so watch out.

However, once you get past our mood swings (our moods truly change with each passing moon), our crabbiness, and our inability to express affection upon meeting you for the first time, you will find a loyal friend or partner in us.  We don't sting others like Scorpio or evade the truth like Pisces natives, but we're still watery and we deal in the language of emotions.  If you don't like this language, then a Cancer partner or water sign partner will drive you nuts.  It's not that we can't analyze anything or that we all suck at math, that's not the case.  We came to this planet to explore the emotional landscape and that includes darker emotions which sometimes end up as explosive or overly dramatic scenes.  And the Oscar goes to...

(Some Cancerian actors include: Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Natalie Wood, Diana Riggs, Pascale Brussieres (French Canadian), and you will find plenty of Cancer natives within your theater community).

Cancer dream and hold visions like Pisces natives, but Cancerians have the wherewithal and ambition to manifest those dreams. We also have loads of patience, persistence and tenacity which might not bode well from a person who doesn't want a Cancerian courting them.  After all, a Cancerian crush borders on insanity at times.  These folks are not beyond stalking someone they're obsessed with, but they usually mean no harm.  However, Cancer natives lean more towards shyness when it comes to pursuing relationships and even the men move sideways so you have to read between the lines with them.  Again, it's that Cancerian caution rearing it's head again.  For every two steps forward, it's ten steps back as the Cancerian scurries back into his cozy shell.

The woman can come off as old fashion, but not prim.  It's not that they don't enjoy sex, only that they don't want to feel cheap or prostituted in the process.  They want to know that others have their hearts in the right place and share the same dreams.  Cancerians for the most part seek stability and within a secure relationship.  They are not prone to sexual experimentation like some of the fire, air signs, or Scorpio and they don't appreciate one-night stands or people that sneak out in the middle of the night.  Cancerians enjoy cuddling, but they also enjoy having their space.  And this is hard to gage with Cancerians--because one minute their hot and sexy and the next, they're feeling as cool as a cucumber, sorry for the cliches.

Cancerians exude mystery too, just like we'll never figure out the Moon, we'll never fathom Cancer natives.  And we like it that way.  Only Scorpio exudes more mystery than Cancer, who sorry to say, will never read like an open book.  Cancer natives like keeping their books tightly closed just like they'll keep secrets from you, not out of spite or control, but because they need something that's completely their own.

I can tell you that the Cancer road is fraught with dramatic events that poke at the Cancer natives abilities to balance emotions.  And most of us came here to learn to balance emotions.  Once a Cancer native moves past their numerous fears (most irrational) and move past victim mentality, they evolve into stable loving partners who speak the language of emotions with clarity.  They make excellent psychics and energy healers because they can read other people's emotions.  But they must learn to distinguish between other people's emotions, beliefs, and patterns from their own stuff.  This is a lifelong lesson and one of the reasons Cancer natives will pull away from others and hide in their shells.

Even though I know that we need to look at whole charts when determining what relationships will work with any Zodiac sign, the Sun sign compatibility does matter with Cancer natives.  I personally have dated earth, air, water, and fire signs and even with other compatible components in charts, relationships with fire and air signs felt catastrophic and landed me in therapy.  Cancer natives love having their own space, but their idea of freedom is not a live and let live relationship. We simply don't speak the same emotional language as air and fire signs.  We do well with water signs provided that each partner own their own stuff.  Earth signs bring grounding and stability, but can feel stuffy and boring at times.  Air sign natives just want to analyze everything and think their way out of emotional situations which Cancer natives can't stand.  We feel unloved when others don't validate our feelings.  And fire signs, well with their here today, gone tomorrow approach, what Cancer native wants to deal with that?

I used to scoff at the conservative descriptions of Cancerians, but the truth is we are conservative when it comes to money, real family values and we lean towards clannish (which is a weakness for us).  We love earning money doing creative work or even spiritual work.  If we have a belief that money is evil, it didn't originally come from us, but was programmed into our thinking process by parents, community, or our peers.  Money brings us comfort and we feel safer having it and cramming as much as it as we can in our shells.  We would also prefer to own a home so I feel sad for all those Cancerians who lost their homes in recent years and those who ended up like vagabonds living in cars or homeless shelters.  There is nothing more depressing for a Cancer native and they won't see the bright side of this situation, if there even is one.

The other thing that depresses Cancer natives is an empty cupboard or fridge.  They don't over stuff themselves with food, but they feel safer having it around.  I think Cancer natives invented the term "comfort food" as when this sign is at it's best it is about nurturing the stomach and the soul.  To end this long and winding post, I'm including movie trailers that embody Cancerian women and one Cancerian man, Robin Williams.  And in response to the cautionary woman who gave warnings not to date Cancerian men, perhaps you're just not compatible with sensitive water signs or fearful of them.  This, I'm sure, you will get over in time.

Sandrine Kiberlain in Madamoiselle Chambon,

Meg Ryan (a Cancerian),

Robin Williams (Cancerian) in Patch Adams,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Musical Spin around the Zodiac (and away we go...)

The purpose of this post is to allow you to see the Zodiac signs in action.  While I might enjoy some of the songs here, I’m not revealing my musical tastes.  Though I will say some of these performers are at the top of my A-List.  I noticed that I don’t spend a lot of time listening to contemporary Scorpio musicians.  I have no answer for this, but when I was looking up signs of my favorite musicians, none of them were Scorpio, at least not to my awareness. 

I suppose if I traveled back to the Romantic Era for European classical music I would have found a few Scorpio musicians, but I didn’t travel back that far since we don’t have footage of these musicians, just footage of contemporary musicians performing the work of the Romantic Era composers with the exception of Rachmaninoff. And I don't know his sign.

You will find jazz, folk, pop, and folkloric performers on this list.  Some of this music might possess healing qualities and other music here is just pure entertainment.  Enjoy the spin around the musical block.

Aries--Aretha Franklin,

Description: The daughter of a preacher and Civil Rights promoter, when Aretha Franklin sings her signature song, "Respect" we feel her Aries energy rising to the top. This is another musical talent who got her start in her teens, first singing in the Black Church, then later experienced a career filled with ups and downs, wrong turns, and fame.

Description: Musician/Song writer with an earthy soul and groove.  Blind since birth, this man feels his way through music often recording songs that enliven all the senses.  He could be the Mozart of our time with his prolific songwriting and instrumental skills which came to him as a young child.

Description--Singer-Songwriter who found his roots in the troubadour folk tradition with Woody Guthrie as his main early influence.  Gifted tongue and a quicksilver mind, wit to spare.

AND Miles Davis,

Description: Jazz Trumpeter/composer: A fire-starter, innovator, pioneer and ironically founder of Cool Jazz From a biographical perspective, Miles would show up late for recording sessions, dealt with addiction and kicked the habit, and he pushed emotional boundaries with others according to his biographers.

Description: Singer-Songwriter, sister of Paul Simon, associated with James Taylor, Carol King and other popular American folksingers of the baby boomer generation.  Big hit was “You’re So Vain” which allegedly she wrote about Mick Jaguar.

Description: Singer-Songwriter, pianist, dancer and show woman.  She basks in the stage lights and camera lens, wore lots of cat suits, purred when she sang, and her choreography had a cat-like appeal.  Oddly, Kate is a different person offstage, and lives I'm told like a recluse in a sort of fantasy land she built in rural England.

Description: Songwriter from the UK who blends nerdy with elegant and is a meticulous songwriter.  He has a lot of Cancer/Virgo/Libra in his chart.  Can you feel it?  He made both social and romantic commentaries in his songs, and similar to another famous English songwriter, Billy Bragg, Costello also sang about unrequited love.

Description: Eccentric Canadian virtuoso pianist.  He was mostly famous for his interpretations of J.S. Bach’s keyboard work and similar to another Libran, Saint Francis of Assisi, Glenn Gould loved animals and nature. Even though he died of a stroke in 1982, his recordings are as popular as ever and several movies have been produced on Glenn Gould since his passing.  Some people even claim to have felt his ghost hanging around, but Glenn is a friendly ghost who enjoys talking.

Description: English singer-songwriter whose big hit was the catchy pop-folk song, “Downtown” which gets stuck in my head and annoys me.

Description: What can we say about the indomitable spirit of the French cabaret singer Edith Piaf whose experiences were anything but a life in pink, but she sang in a voice larger than her petite frame?

Description: Singer-Songwriter from England who was known for his futuristic music and slow-climbing career where the musicians reinvented the wheel for each recording.  Bowie also tried his hand at acting for stage and film with success.  A true chameleon, he really seems more like an Aquarian than a Capricorn, even with his unmatched eyes (one blue and one brown).

Aquarius--Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera),

Descriptions: Both Roddy Frame from Scotland and Carol King of the US have a gift for writing romantic songs with vulnerable strings hanging off the heart.  This just proves that Aquarians do have a heart and can easily express their heart’s emotions through brilliant songwriting.  Roddy Frame cited that David Bowie inspired his songwriting.

Description: Argentine bandoneon player and composer of jazz and new tango compositions.  Piazzolla of Italian descent he innovated Argentine tango taking it from a ballroom dance to an intricate mix of classical, jazz, improvisation and tango.  This is my favorite musician on my Zodiac list.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Art of Aries

Aries, Mars, Spring, Cardinal
As we get ready to leave a Pisces stellium with the Sun joining Mars and Uranus in Aries, let's explore art with Aries themes.  And who are Aries exactly? Pioneers, warriors, athletes, risk-takers, fools for loves, troubadours and knights who chase after unrequited lovers, children, infants, fighters, and those people who can muster the courage to speak their truth.  While Joan of Arc wasn't an Aries, she had a warrior spirit coupled with a visionary one.  Saint Francis of Assisi was born under the sign of Libra, but his act of turning away from society and following his heart could only be called an Aries act.

In the spirit of Aries and as we welcome new energy with the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, here are movies, cartoons, and other scenarios that explore Aries spirit.  And as astrology expert Mark Husson told his listeners of his HayHouse Radio show, Peek Hour, "Everyone has Aries somewhere in their chart."  Look where you go your own way in the spirit of adventure or where you feel comfortable taking risks.  Life's an adventure.

3. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,

7. Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bottom, the fool),

9. Monty Python The Holy Grail,

Friday, March 15, 2013

Quicksilver Dancin' with Mercury

Mercury, Wikipedia
The backward dance with Mercury in Pisces has just about ended and in fact, the closing ceremony happens this weekend.  Expect the smirking trickster planet to have a few more fast ones up his sleeve.  Think of Wiley Coyote or Clever Crow or the African Praying Mantis.  But really these tricks of us putting our feet in our mouths or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, have more to do with our communication skills than the quicksilver planet.  Still I feel like recapping my own experiences.  And if you have Mercury RX experiences to share, please feel free to leave comments.

My mind felt foggy during the past three weeks, but most of this had to do with a cluster of personal planets plus Neptune in Pisces and not so much to do with Mercury in retrograde.  I don't know about you, but I had a much easier time meditating than when Mercury is direct in fire or air signs.  So I looked forward to my sound healing and meditation sessions.  I danced, listened to music and sang too, but mostly chants.  I have to say that I'm going to miss this deep meditative time and I'm not looking forward to Mercury moving into pushy, fiery Aries--not at all.  Mercury in Pisces offered each of us a time to retreat, rethink, reevaluate, and reinvent ourselves and our lives.  This is a precious gift and I hope you don't take it for granted.  It reminds me of the socks you get for Christmas, which might seem unglamorous at the time, but in retrospect the warm feet you felt all winter long had a nurturing quality.  And every time those socks kept your feet warm, you thought fondly of the person who gave you those socks as a gift.

Besides, deep meditation, I did experience my share of frustrating moments, but also insightful moments.  I accidentally deleted all the blog post images from Whole Music Experience, a blog I launched in 2007 to review and research the healing potential of music.  I didn't know that Google+ and Blogger had such an intimate partnership.  So for the past two weeks I have been re-uploading images onto each post--a painstaking process.  But this allowed me to take a trip down memory lane of reviews of CDs I had already forgotten about (I've reviewed 100s of CDs).  And I was able to clean up some of the formatting problems along the way too.  I still have another two weeks of uploading images to go, but I'm on a roll now and just in time for spring cleaning and sprucing up.

Another thing that happened, was I heard from a person who stole an idea from me for a product.  Well, perhaps stole is a strong word and I need to watch my dramatic language, but this has lead me on a path to demanding compensation. And by demanding compensation I realize how far along I am on my path to self-love and self-honoring because a year ago, I would have just ranted and raved without seeking any compensation.  Mercury RX can also show us how far we've grown spiritually and emotionally.

With Mercury in RX, I returned to photography full force, going through my old boxes and files of photographs and joining photography groups on Google+ where I have met extraordinary photographers and people from around the world who share my passion for freezing time in photographs.  By going over old photographs, I have also come to know myself better and to get reacquainted with my creativity of the visual kind.  I found pastels and watercolor paints in a free box so maybe I'll get back to exploring the world of art too.

Red-tail Hawk, Wikipedia
And it's not that I haven't pursued photography in the past few years because I had, but now Mercury in Pisces has brought me a new sense of confidence and Mars in Aries has given me the drive to see where photography can take me, not as a profession, but as another blissful path.

Needless, to say that I wrote this post to alert those folks fearful of Mercury RX because even this trickster comes bearing gifts.  What gifts did the messenger bring you? Did you see hawks flying along side a road or in a forest or city park? Did you meet up with an old friend, hear from someone you haven't heard from in years, or experienced a profound healing beyond words?

Let me know about your Mercury RX experience and leave comments here.  Happy trails.

Friday, March 8, 2013

12 Stellar Ladies of the Zodiac

After so many serious astrological posts that caused my head to spin, I decided to post the Ladies of the Zodiac this week.  I chose a celebrated or controversial woman to represent each of the signs.  My hope is that you will get a visceral feeling for the 12 signs through videos of these 12 women that represent the world of cinema, music, politics, journalism, and anthropology.

Sagittarius, Margaret Mead,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review--Let's Get Practical

Practical Astrology
(The Essential Guide)
April Elliott Kent
Alpha (2011)

Eyewitness Companions Astrology
Julia and Derek Parker
DK (2007)

While I putting my basic astrology workshop together, I checked out basic astrology books from the library so that I can return to a beginner's mind.  However, even basic astrology books are packed with intermediate information so I found myself in a deeper learning mode.

Practical Astrology by April Elliott Kent combines humor with a flowing narrative.  Elliott Kent starts at the beginning with the symbols, signs, planets, then moves into the houses, house systems, progressions and transits.  She comes from the synthesis school (blending the energies of signs, planets, houses), and focuses more on astrology as an everyday tool thus the name of her book.  She teaches her readers the chart basics, and even briefly how to draw a chart by hand for the more ambitious types.

Like every other astrology book I read, you will find the "cookbook" section (nothing to do with food, but descriptions of signs and planets through the different houses), which thankfully in this case doesn't feel tedious.  Elliott Kent has fun with the process even bringing in movie characters and featuring the natal and other charts of actress Drew Barrymore.  However, I feel that the strongest section of the book are the daily, monthly, yearly and lifetime planners which are based on the transits of the planets and moon cycles.  Farmers have been doing this for centuries and Elliott Kent comes from farm stock herself having grown up with a father who used the moon to cultivate his crops. After all, a farmer's almanac is a practical tool.

Elliott Kent isn't kidding when she teaches practical astrology even going as far as suggesting to her readers what colors or styles of clothing to wear during each Moon sign. 

This is a good book for beginners to intermediate astrologers.  I recommend it.

From the series Eyewitness Companions (DK), Astrology by Julia and Derek Parker we get a UK/Australian gaze at the planets, history of astrology, and yes another cookbook with striking photographs and artwork.  At first I thought the authors wrote the book for entertainment (a nice coffee table book), but once I dug into the first chapter (history of astrology) I realized that the Parkers prefer the scholarly approach, which I feel grateful.

They delve into the 12 Zodiac signs giving everyday examples (which helps when getting a feel for a sign, other than your own), plus in depth information about the planets, aspects, houses, and different types of astrology practices such as mundane, relocation, horary, and they teach readers to draw up a hand chart.  Again, the authors write with a flowing narrative while sharing what they learned from their decades of practice.  I did find a few discrepancies which might related to English verses American interpretations, such as the stomach listed under Virgo instead of Cancer.  While these authors put the fun back in astrology, they don't diminish the power of astrology in any way.  You'll walk away knowing intimate details of the 12 signs.

I recommend this book for both beginning and intermediate astrologers, but the intermediate astrologer would want to move ahead to the final chapters in the book, otherwise it could feel tedious.  Beginners will feel their heads swimming from all the information presented to them.  Remember you don't have to read the book in one or two sittings, and best to read just one chapter at a time, absorb the information then continue to the next chapter. Otherwise, you will feel overwhelmed.

I recommend this book, but it wouldn't be my first choice if I had little money to spend on astrology books.  DK publishes lovely books full of graphics and I'm always surprised the educational value of this series.