Nothing like the Sun…

As Venus prepares to retrograde in Capricorn, I can’t help but think about what she and her retrograde signify in our larger American society. One manifestation of my recent thoughts on her comes from my studies in Islam. In Islamic thought, there’s the concept of Allah (G-d) as reflective of two principles: Tanzih and Tashbih. With the concept of Tanzih, everything in the Cosmos is unlike Allah as Allah is incomparable and transcendent. It’s the opposite of thinking that God is everything and everything is God. With the concept of Tashbih, everything relates or is like Allah in that Allah has those traits or is the source/embodiment of a trait that we express as well, like love or mercy. One interesting distinction is that Tanzih often emphasizes how Allah has distance from us through wrath or judgment. Tashbih relates more to the mercy and compassion of Allah.

If you’re curious about how Venus relates to race, racism or injustice, you might want to start here with Nick Dagan Best’s amazing correlation between Venus cycles and African American history. In that blog post, Nick does an amazing job of illustrating that the similitude function of Venus warps in American polity when it comes to race. It becomes a dissimilitude instead of a similitude. This dissimilitude between what’s perceived as Black & White is what’s at the heart of the unjust experiences of Black people. In fact, it was a few weeks before the last Venus retrograde in May 2012 that much of Black America was mobilized to bring George Zimmerman to justice for the murder of Trayvon Martin in late February of that year. And then he got off this year. I’m not in the position to debate the measure of justice Trayvon’s family received as I didn’t watch the case closely. However, it’s become apparent to many that the “Stand your ground” laws and practices are coming under question, like with the cases of  Marissa Alexander in Florida (again) and Renisha McBride in Detroit, MI. With the McBride case about to go to trial, I find it all too strong a parallel with what we were contending with during Venus’ last retrograde.

But what set me flowing about Venus retrograde as a manifestation of Tanzih or what’s incomparable is the rash of “blackface” shenanigans we had this past Fall. Here’s a piece from fellow Ebony.com writer Jamilah Lemieux about it.  But a thought occurred to me this year about blackface that hadn’t before: it would seem some White folks find being a Black person in costume incomparable to their own experience without wearing brown or black make-up. That’s bizarre since I’ve never donned any White make-up to be any number of White people I’ve been in my life.  It’s as if the color of a Black person’s skin becomes the only pathway to finding a shared point of humanity in “being” or looking like the person. This not only shows a paucity of imagination, but empathy as well. It’s as if for these folks, some of them even good hearted in wanting to pay tribute to some notable Black person, Blackness is a thing so incomparable to their own Whiteness, so tanzih in their own experience, that they can not enter the guise of someone else without painting themselves. That’s profoundly sad. It’s not even maddening for me anymore.

I’m pretty sure the answer is not just in telling folks to step out their “Tanzih” zone and reach for more Tashbih. I think we can find a more nuanced way to appreciate space for both. That’s what made me think of Shakespeare’s Love sonnet 130:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

What’s beautiful about this sonnet is how Shakespeare expresses how we can have the idea of the incomparable yet find love and appreciation all the same without denigration. A love sonnet is naturally under the auspices of Venus. A Venus in Capricorn is an astrological marker for how Venus seeks to find and experience value in the world of competence and materialism. Taken together, I hope we experience events, whether it’s the McBride case or Alexander case, or, heaven forbid, something new, that help us bridge the gaps in our imagination and empathy. That we find more space for tashbih and reserve the space for the incomparable for Supreme values that borrow from the Divine, but can never embody wholly as humans. One of those values is not your skin color, though.

Happy Full Moon!

Here’s how the Venus retrograde may manifest for some by Sun, moon or rising sign this week:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]


Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/zodiac-lounge-your-horoscopes-this-week-1216-1222#ixzz2nlP9euLq
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The cost of things…

On 9/28, I will commemorate the 33rd anniversary of preaching my first sermon at 12 years-old, on my mom’s birthday. Mom passed away in ’94, and I couldn’t be farther away from the Christian gospel ministry, but somehow the “spirit” of both are with me.  This year, on 9/28, Venus and Mars will square off with each other, following up on the conjunction they had about six months ago. Now, Venus is in Scorpio (another Mars sign) and Mars is in Leo (another fire sign). Venus in Scorpio  points us toward how our attractions pull us toward what’s unfulfilled and unfulfilling in us, especially from the past.  Mars in Leo is more about what we must act on now as our most authentic selves. These two couldn’t be more at odds. The square definitely fits.  And it also directs us to a deeper question: What’s the cost of keeping your pain vs. acting on what desire and could have…now? 

When I started this post, I was just going to focus on that question. Then I remembered what 9/28 means to me.

Although I’m a Muslim convert, my formulations about the afterlife are soft, to say the least.  It took about 10 years for my belief in God (as something different as I once believed) to come back. It looks like my belief in an afterlife is taking a little longer.  So, I don’t fantasize about Paradise or Hell.  I mostly struggle to believe in either.  I don’t believe in traditional reincarnation, so I don’t have any fantasies about encountering my mom as my sister or daughter in another future life.  I mostly just miss her. Daily. Then there’s 9/28 every year. But on this occasion, thinking about this Venus-Mars square, I’m reminded of my mission to write and speak, just as I did 33 years ago…on her birthday. I remember what this Mars in Leo means to me. It has even additional meaning as this weekend I came from a lovely weekend giving a lecture and spending time with my wife, our extended Philly family, and friends.

All of this prompts me to remember a poem I wrote in 2009, or rather channeled at a bank, of all places. It just came to me then.  At the time, after a break up with my fiancee, a different woman than my bride, I was jolted into seeing the cost of keeping myself in my pain, as Venus in Scorpio may like to do as well.  In that moment, Mom didn’t come for me from the afterlife. She spoke to me very much in this life. Still.  Here’s what she “spoke”:

Not Still Born (as “channeled” to me by my dear departed mother)

I named you Samuel after the man
who raised me
I named you Frederick after the man
who raised your father.
I did not know Samuel meant
asked of God, though I kept asking
God for you to be alive when you would not
stir in me for weeks at a time.
I did not know Frederick meant
anything else
I only wanted peace between two men
who had fathered neither child who would
honor them both with a namesake.

I fought for you, because despite the worse odds that doctors could give you,
you had the audacity to smile after
all 25 surgeries to keep you here
I did not know how long I would have you
I did not know that I would have to fight to get
the boy bright enough to give post-surgical smiles to his mama
out of a school for “retarded” children
I did not know that I would have to jump in the street to hurl children, feelin’ bigger
than their britches, who would take your small size as occasions to brutalize you
I did not know that one day that I would
even make the President of the United States
find financial aid to get you to graduate cum laude
I only wanted you to live at least longer than I would.

I speak to you, because you squelch
your voice and squander your vision to make spending money
to impress the shallow when you are already miraculous.
You wile away the precious time
I fought for to avoid believing in your own talent and vision
You shatter the perfect peace of the name I brokered
to sign off on meals you half eat, clothes you never wear
and books you half read.
I did not know you would travel as widely as you have
or be as many kinds of things as you have.
I did not know you would study stars.
I did not know when or how
I would leave you as I have.

But I do know
you were not stillborn.
Write out the vision given to you.
At least for me.
–SFR–

Mom

Marion Dollie Reynolds, Sept. 28, 1935 – December 13, 1994

So this Venus-Mars square is for action, not for stillborn living.  What does it mean for you?  This week’s horoscopes give attention to that square and other celestial happenings.  I hope they help guide you toward where you’re letting attractions to the past cost you.

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Toward Fall…

The final week of summer opens up with a Mercury-Uranus opposition and a shooting at a Navy Yard.  The story at the Navy Yard is still developing, but a Mercury-Uranus opposition can signify surprising news like this or also flashes of insight and brilliance. Let’s hope more insight and brilliance is more on the make as the week continues.

My real concern this week, in a general sense, is the Pluto direct that happens on Friday morning, right after a full moon. The full moon raises people’s emotional levels, and I’ve written here a few times about Pluto and how it seems to shadow gun violence in this country.  As we approach Fall on Sunday, America really has to get it together about gun control, including with  cops too.  As for them, you can take your pick from the past week with this story at NYC Times Square or the unfortunate story of Jonathan Ferrell, a FAMU student and football, who senselessly lost his life at the hand of a trigger-happy cop.

Of course, for most of us, the issue won’t boil down to gun violence. However, we have ample celestial and real-world signs that we have to watch our mouths and tempers this week.  We can attempt to do that by adding an extra focus on  love and warmth in our prayers and meditations this week, especially on Wednesday when Venus and Saturn hook up at the hip by what we astro-geeks call a conjunction.  When those two get together, they tend to bring the cold snap of reality in personal and even professional relationships. It’s almost as if we could dub it the “Let’s chill” aspect. (The one positive feature of this aspect is that it can also signal marriage, the formalization of passion.)  That’s why I’m recommending that we add some warmth and love of our own rather than expecting that it’ll be “out there” waiting for us.  We have to work to bring it, like most positive changes that we need on this planet.

In the mean time, here are some horoscopes to help direct your attention on a more intimate level.  And a burst of love and a hug for extra measure right now!

Aries

Taurus

Gemini

Cancer

Leo

Virgo

Libra

Scorpio

Sagittarius

Capricorn

Aquarius

Pisces

Ewww…

I don’t know about you, but it seems like the gas or lemon face has become a big thing in the last week. If it’s not eww about Ben Affleck becoming Batman in a movie slated 2015, then it’s “eww” over Miley Cyrus’ performance in the VMAs last night.  This week kicks off with Venus opposite to Uranus and then squaring Jupiter tomorrow, so there might be a whole lot of “Ewww!”  However, wherever there’s a rise in disaffections and defections, there are new affections and alliances to be formed too. We can see quickly see “Ewwws” transform into “Ohhhs!” sooner than we might suspect.  Don’t get too rattled or get too tied to your “ewwws” or “ohhhs” this week. By the end of the week, we’ll all be ready for some “ahhhs” of just chilling out, neither feeling the compulsion to have to like something/somebody or unlike.  I’m looking forward to that.

You may find a similar theme, along different aspects of life, in this week’s horoscopes:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Just one of those days…

A week ago or so, as I settled down to write the horoscopes you see below, I realized that today Venus was squaring Saturn. Normally when I see that in the charts of my clients, by transit, I usually tell them that it’s a time to give yourself a lot of self-care, instead of expecting to feel appreciated and celebrated by others, even those who love you dearly. So I followed my own advice today. I watched a movie that a friend recommended. I skyped with a buddy. I napped. I cleaned. I debated w/ a White guy who couldn’t understand why he couldn’t use the N-word if Black people use it. I prayed 5 times, starting at 4:30 am. I answered emails. I cooked a delicious dinner.  I did a whole bunch of other stuff too, but, for me, I relaxed today. (That’s highly unusual for those who know me. I don’t understand chilling. Ever. But that’s a different post.)

I also start a new exercise regimen tomorrow. Just in time for the Sun-Pluto opposition and the Sun-Uranus square that also happen this week. As part of the transformation and innovation that these symbols inspire, I threw out any t-shirts and a once favorite hoodie that had a Superman “S” on them.  I was mostly inspired by Henry Cavill’s transformation to play Superman in “Man of Steel.”  He had to earn that “S.” I realized that might be a good motivator and strategy for me too. I’m not going to wear another Superman “S” on my chest until I feel like I look more the part. (Yes, that means I’m losing weight and gonna get some cuts/definition.) I don’t know how long that might take, especially with Ramadan coming up, but I’m working out at least 3 days a week to make it happen. Not too bad, considering Cavill worked out 7 days a week to prep for the role.

So the horoscopes below keep these planetary configurations in mind. They’re going to mean different things for each sign, highlighted in different ways. And, of course, if you know your chart, you can look to see how these horoscopes (and my read on the aspects for this week) speak to you through your Sun, moon or rising sign. If you don’t know what those are, consider a consult with me or get one of these cool reports with a chart.  In the interim, enjoy these while giving yourself some self-care:

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

Ties that bind…

The Tony’s were last night. I almost never watch award shows, but I do like the pageantry of them. Seems to be perfect for a week where Venus plays such a prominent role as “Best Actress/Planet” this week. While she’s in Cancer, a fluid water sign, she shows down with Pluto and then squares off against Uranus within roughly 24 hours. That’s all about connective tissue and how we feel (or don’t feel) connected.  This can be both personal and collective. For instance, Venus, according to the work of my colleague Nick Dagan Best, and her cycles have strong significance for African Americans. It’s not lost on me that we have these powerful aspects for Venus as we approach the start of the divisive George Zimmerman trial for the death of Trayvon Martin. We must also not forget that Venus is a significator for justice as well.  I think her aspects this week will deepen a conversation about how we connect to each other…and don’t, in many ways.

We also have a cosmic conversation about dreams on deck this week too.  We have a nice freeflowing discussion between Saturn and Neptune about how to structure our dreams and “reality.” We can bind to us what we dream.

So enjoy this week for how it connects and binds you.  May it bind you to the things that keep you free.

Aries [March 21st to April 19th]

Taurus [April 20th to May 21st]

Gemini [May 22nd to June 20th]

Cancer [June 21st to July 21st]

Leo [July 22nd to Aug 21st]

Virgo [Aug 22nd to Sept 21st]

Libra [Sept 22nd to Oct 21st]

Scorpio [Oct 22nd to Nov 21st]

Sagittarius [Nov 22nd to Dec 21st]

Capricorn [Dec 22nd to Jan 20th]

Aquarius [Jan 21st to Feb 18th]

Pisces [Feb 18th to March 20th]

 

On the wings of desire for the Lunar Eclipse for 4/25

Image

Today while watching a movie that leans heavily on a lunar eclipse as part of the plot, I thought about the one happening today. (I definitely watched it with a full heart as the director was my 1st roommate in grad school and our meeting changed my life. It was a dream come true for him…and me.)

I don’t like writing about eclipses in the general sense.  Mostly because they never sound good, even when one attempts to spin them as good. I literally spent 5-10 minutes reading a colleague’s blog and thought  why would anyone read this in his or her right mind unless s/he wanted to be scared shitless. Or worse, read it all just to think about the worst possible fiascos in what will most likely  be distant lands. And then only have some remote smug satisfaction that an astrologer predicted wrack and ruin months ago based on eclipse.  If that’s yay-worthy, I’ll pass.

Generally, eclipses sound much better when you talk about them in a specific chart, by a matter of degrees. Actually, they sound a lot better for individuals. When we apply them to nations, they can sound awesome or awful. And all that would really matter if more heads of state listened to astrologers…still.  But as it stands, they don’t even listen to the scientists on their payrolls.

This lunar eclipse aligns with any astrological point, like your ascendant or midheaven,  or a planet that’s close to 5-6 degrees of Scorpio or Taurus.  You can think of an eclipse as an activation for all the issues, promises and problems for that particular point or planet.  The “good” or “bad” of that point or planet depends on whether that point or planet is auspicious. (I know that’s not specific enough, but then again that’s the problem with writing about eclipses, as I said, right?)  Truthfully, I can better deal with the implications for an eclipse in your own chart in a session. Please believe me though when I say I didn’t write this post to be a pitch for that.  It’s the truth, nevertheless.

With this eclipse, my mind drifted with less interest about attempting to nail what particular events it might hold for the general public. Or Libras. Or even my sign, Scorpio. I thought a lot more about looser connections.

Having a lunar eclipse/full moon in Scorpio-Taurus, by virtue of those signs being ruled by Mars and Venus, respectively, highlights how we experience our desires. I think a lot about desire, if mostly because the word itself directly relates to my profession. Desire literally means de (of or from) + sidere (star). Or what comes from (or is of) a star.

Perhaps the old Romans were saying our desires come from or move us toward the stars. Take your pick. But there’s another way I wrap my head around this.  Desire is certainly about what you want, but it’s also a lot about how you go about getting it. Desire stays afloat in our psyches with the wings of Mars & Venus and their flapping is what transports us to our own private heavens or hells.  Desire is no small thing even when you desire something small. So that means that “power” isn’t the only thing that  comes with responsibility. Your desires even requires more responsibility.

If you desire a Mercedes Benz, you can choose to steal one (if you know how) or you can buy one (if you have the means or a savings plan to do so).  One way could land you in the hell of a jail cell and the other could put you in the vehicular heaven of smooth open highway without a care in the world or a cop car on your tail. It’s all about how you go about it.

It’s also about how you tap into where you desire comes from. If it comes a small place within yourself, then chances are this is the same small place you’re going to stay in until you find something larger or similarly small yet different. If it comes from something as bright and vast as your spirit, burning like a star within you, then your joy might burn just as bright and vast.

So, basically, I’m talking about how you experience heaven and hell on Earth, much like one of my favorite parables.  But I’m also talking about being responsible for your desires, not only the way you go about them.

Every day I watch men look hard at women who pass them on the street with what looks like desire. Sometimes they say something. (Most times I wish they wouldn’t because it’s usually half-hearted and quickly becomes harassment.) Other times they just look. You know, the kind of lecherous look at the front and the back of a human being as if they’re appraising food. And I’m always struck by a question, “What does he really want in that moment?”  I mean, it’s all “lust of the eyes” right there. But what’s being stoked in the heart, the classic seat of desire? Is it the habit of looking at “things” you’re never going to pursue? “Things” that you half-want, mostly couldn’t handle or keep up with if given a quarter of the chance? Is it all a nod to carnal desire to remind your body that it’s still alive? Or a pass to your ego to let you believe that you still are highly desirable because you looked, regardless of whether you really see or have been seen (in all your antiquated playa glory)?  Or, to be fair, maybe these men are looking because they still have eyes and cherish the delight of flesh they see with them.  Nonetheless, desire starts to flutter its wings and the question is still, “Where are you letting your desires take you?”

I’m still of the mind that if you’re in the habit of letting desire beat its wings willy-nilly and with no focus, you’ll find yourself nowhere or anywhere, like short stops at heaven or hell with no consistency.  And for those women ogled by those men on the street, they have to beat off half-hearted angel-winged addresses that quickly turn batshit when not appreciated or well-received.  So it’s amazing how so few men realize how they’ve made their desires flightless birds, without soar or spirit, by abusing them. Just the beating of inner wings and eyes with no heart fueling them. That’s one of the saddest parts.

But this isn’t a post about ending street harassment. Or to upbraid men. Maybe that’s another time. But let this eclipse be a reminder of how your desire is a portal to your own heaven or hell. Don’t abuse it. Treat your inner wings of desire with respect and responsibility.  You can’t manifest anything of serious value without your wings of desire being strong and firm. When another flaps his or her wings your way recognize rightly the might or meekness of each flap. Treat it accordingly.  If your own wings are stirred, then perhaps you will soar together. If not, keep beating your wings of desire from the heart, following your course, undeterred by those who can’t keep up.  You have a heaven of your own choosing to reach.