Mercury Retrograde ☿ Summer 2018

June 28: Mercury enters Leo

July 25: Mercury Retrograde begins

Aug 18: Mercury Retrograde ends

Planets in retrograde are not actually spinning backwards – it is an optical illusion as seen from Earth. Backwards motion appears to happen when Earth passes slower moving planets in the outer solar system. In astrology, this illusion manifests as a “backwards” functioning of the planetary roles. Click here to learn more about retrograde.

Mercury turns retrograde three times a year, more frequently than any other planet. From EarthSky:

On Mercury, for example, the Sun sometimes moves in retrograde! As the planet speeds through its closest approach with the sun, its orbital speed overtakes its rotational speed. An astronaut on the surface would see the sun partially rise, then dip back below the horizon, then rise again before resuming its east-to-west trek across the sky. Once a year, Mercury gets two sunrises on the same day!

Mercury represents communication, travel and technology. These realms are particularly affected during Mercury Retrograde. Expect delays, cancellations and sudden changes; technological failures, especially cell phones, laptops or automobiles; miscommunication; lost/stolen items; general malfunction and wtf moments. I do not recommend starting a new job, buying a car, moving to a new place or signing any contracts/documents. This is not a good time for travel, life-altering commitments or investments.

We last experienced Mercury Retrograde in Leo one year ago, from Aug 31 – Sep 5, 2017. Now Mercury rewinds in Leo again. He first enters Leo on June 28, and we will begin to feel the effects of the retrograde as early as July 7. Life will be back to normal by Sep 1. Mercury will remain in Leo until Sep 5.

Mercury Retrograde in Leo is one hell of a lesson. It is time to face ourselves, our identity, our narrative. In popular astrology, Leo is synonymous with megalomaniacal behavior. Regardless of the veracity of this association, we will actually be quite painfully aware of our imperfections during this cycle as we confront the consequences of egotistical behavior. Are you sabotaging love in the fires of unruly self-interest?

Leo lives forever shackled to his savage heart. He has the heart of a child, plays like a child, lives like a child. By all means, embrace your playful inner child, but not the inner boy-king who insists he knows everything. Leo’s golden heart drums the beat for glistening romance, a grandiose life of laughter and fleeting pleasures, where words are painted with bright, broad strokes in the air. But is this real love? Is this self-love? Or is this love of desire, love of power, love of control?

Words and actions have extraordinary power during this cycle. Stay true to yourself and don’t give in to impulse so easily. Channel your passion into creative projects and gratitude for what you already have. Mercury Retrograde in Leo teaches exactly this: appreciation for what we already have, especially the love in our lives.

Blinded by greed, we hurt ourselves and others. We chase and grab like mindless children. We cannot or will not see beyond the gluttonous glory of self-satisfaction until it is too late, until we are apologizing, weeping like a child. But we are not children! Leo rises to his full height with merciless eyes. Will you find a way to loosen your creative and sexual energies, a way to loosen the tongue, free the mind, awaken the heart, without destroying what you already have? Burn away the impurities, emerge crisp as a daffodil bobbing in the sun.

Dates worth mentioning before the retrograde starts: on June 30, Mercury squares Uranus in Taurus – treat this day as you would Mercury Retrograde and avoid travel – expect the unexpected! Also avoid travel and hold off on important conversations on July 5 and July 9 – Mercury first squares Mars Retrograde in Aquarius, then Jupiter Retrograde in Scorpio.

Open your heart with music, laughter and Leo Yoga. In meditation, focus on the heart chakra and sit in the sun. If you were born with Mercury in Leo, you’re in for an exciting Mercury Return. To find your Mercury sign and whether he was direct or retrograde at the time of your birth, click here.

Mantra:  change is good

Sun in Leo ☼ July 22 – Aug 22

July 22 – Aug 22, 2018

The Sun sign is a much-celebrated astrological element, usually given more significance than it deserves. Remember – the Sun is just one planet in your star-soup.

Happy birthday fuzzy cats!

Heart-deep in the astrological year, we arrive at Leo, king of the zodiac. Leo is ruled by the sun, so the sun is “at home” for this cycle. This is auspicious. Everyone loves Leo season. Due to the literal centrality of the ruling planet, Leo does think about himself a lot. Nonetheless, the lion holds himself to very high standards and can be quite self-conscious.

Like all members of the zodiac, Leo has many faces. One face of Leo is the playful child. This is the lion at his most innocent. Sometimes Leo is the Sun King, ruling with respect and compassion. Leo is also driven and hardworking, though this may be difficult to imagine if you catch him in lazy cat mode. Leo fantasizes about a life of total leisure and luxury. And then there’s Leo the tyrant, temperamental child, ego run amuck.

We have to be on guard against certain things during every solar cycle. In Leo, watch for anger and egotistical behavior. The lion does not like to be wrong and will enter into arguments just to win them. It’s impossible to avoid conflict entirely – energy rolls in from every corner of the starscape and here we are, soaking it all up. Not to mention that challenge means evolution so we should never retreat from it. What we can do is learn how to channel celestial energy into its purest form instead of squandering it on impulse. This is one of astrology’s greatest gifts. The more we learn about ourselves and the natural rhythms of the universe, the better we understand optimal conditions for their operation. With Leo, for example, the best way to channel his smoldering fire is through dancing, music, art and laughing. Distract yourself as you would a child.

Let’s talk about Leo’s most magical attribute: will power. For some, will power is not an issue and never has been, and you may very well be a Leo. A major karmic purpose behind incarnation as a Leo is to teach others the secrets of will. Will power is beautiful not just because it propels us into action, but in so doing, it erases our pain and leads us to understand that pain exists precisely so that it may be overcome.

Important: Mercury Retrograde begins on the evening of July 25, three days into Leo season. Early that same day, the Leo sun squares Uranus in Taurus, planet of the unexpected. Be VERY careful on this day. I do not recommend travel, investments or risk-taking of any kind. One day later on July 26, the Leo sun opposes Mars Retrograde in Aquarius. Watch for anger, accidents or explosions, emotional or otherwise. This will be a volatile day, but when properly channeled, an excellent opportunity to harness increased physical and sexual energy. And then on Friday July 27 we have a lunar eclipse! Those three days (Weds-Fri) are going to be intense and exciting.

On Aug 6 the Leo sun squares Jupiter in Scorpio – not an auspicious day. But two days later, on Aug 8, Mercury Retrograde backtracks all the way to the same degree as the sun. This is great! When the Sun and Mercury Retrograde share the same degree, the sun smoothes over the challenging aspects of the retrograde. In other words, if you need to travel or sign something important, do it on this day – it is almost as though the effects of the retrograde are suspended on this day, thanks to the fiery, manifesting influence of the sun. On Aug 11, we have a solar eclipse. The following weekend, on Aug 18, Mercury Retrograde ends!

Earthlings, whether you’re feeling elated or disappointed, manic or belligerent, smash it all together and set it free, get it out, sing it out. This cycle is about manifestation. What doesn’t come out will sit inside of you and turn gross and rotten (as does bottled anger) or restless (like brilliant ideas being ignored). We stay where we are because we are comfortable, we like things calm and familiar, and we fear what our tongues and hands will do if given permission to shake loose their fetters. Who are you to hide from the world? Express yourself with hoots, hollers and Leo Yoga.

Mantra:  I will

First Quarter Moon in Libra ☽ July 19, 2018

Thursday, July 19 at 12.53pm PST

The Sun in Cancer squares the moon in Libra. The moon will rise at noon, peak at dusk and set at midnight. Quarter moons prompt definitive change. They represent a turning point.

Libra is the sign of scales, representing equality, balance, compromise and true love. It is Libra who transforms us from angry, headstrong individuals to peaceful diplomats. Moon phases in Libra speak to our social life. This usually, but not always, involves romantic partnerships. If you’re single, this means friends, classmates or co-workers. As the heart bobs and dips in a supernatural ocean, seek comfort. Spend time with those who make you feel at home. Exhale into the sweetness of intimacy. Take shelter from uncertainty, for this is not where Libra’s treasure lies.

At this quarter moon, Cancer and Libra stir our emotional anatomy, cultivating seeds of love in delicate places. I see reunion and tender tears of joy. I see humans embracing. Reconnect with old friends and family. See them as an enchanted mirror, reflecting your own sparkles. Speak with starry eyes, communicate your plans, dreams and feelings. May your loved ones listen sincerely, then offer precious grains of wisdom. May they remind you of who you are, and in so doing, illuminate your needs. Let yourself be guided. Relax into the music of familiar voices, the chirps and warbles which lulled you in childhood, or wherever you felt safe and loved.

Some notes from my journal a few years ago: Start at the beginning – with kindness – and go from there. Don’t complain about lack of connection; you can always find one. Meet where you are, grow love here, see if you can ascend together to the next level.

Luna enters Scorpio on the same day, late at night. The moon is waxing, gathering momentum for fullness. This quarter moon is building toward a big lunar eclipse on July 27. Between these two phases, Leo season and Mercury Retrograde will begin! July 24-26 will be especially turbulent days, but the lunar eclipse looks very promising.

When the moon is in Libra, it is a good time to plant, eat and pick flowers. In yoga, try balancing poses. Focus on the sacral chakra in meditation. Libra is known for her excellent style, so put on your finest. Create a cozy atmosphere with art, music, libations and a big meal for everyone to share. Revel in the glory of laughter and storytelling! Give and receive with an open heart! And I’ll see you on the dance floor! Keep the connection burning bright with healthy conversation and Libra Yoga. To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  one family

Solar Eclipse in Cancer ♋ July 12, 2018

Thursday, July 12 at 7.49pm PST

Happy new moon and happy solar eclipse!! Eclipses represent rebirth and the dawning of a new age. They take us from light to darkness back to light again. They suggest, by virtue of their potency, a radical shift. Something is subsumed, transmuted. This is all happening in Cancer, the constellation ruled by the moon herself. At this new moon solar eclipse, Luna silently carves our path in perfect darkness, sizzling in midsummer heat. This eclipse is partial, not full, and will only be visible to viewers in the very southern regions of Australia and New Zealand – most of the eclipse takes place over open water.

This solar eclipse will be exceptionally powerful because the moon and sun will be exactly opposite Pluto Retrograde. This opposition suggests intense, passionate feelings. The moon and sun confront Pluto in a squall of fear, envy, manipulation, mistrust, guilt and identity/existential crises. It is important that we share our feelings lest these energies erupt in a volatile fountain of rage, or linger in the form of depression or self-destructive behavior. Find a happy medium between internalizing and exploding. Let the ultimate goal be peace, and let your comportment reflect this intention. If you are feeling stuck, meditate on the golden eagle or the phoenix. Get up, create something with this profound energy, be productive.

At the bottom of Pluto’s frozen seas we find only ourselves and our own fears, and though they loom large, that’s all they are. Advocate for yourself and your right to expression. Remember that not all feedback is criticism, and not everyone is trying to exploit you. Look for the good in others. Pluto is the best teacher in the zodiac because he categorically denies entrance to all who are not yet ready for change. Fear of change means stagnation, so kiss your darkness, kiss your loony soul, accept your whole self. It’s just like the solar eclipse: light and darkness merge. No union is real or complete without both. It is time to embody the most truthful, authentic version of ourselves.

This journey through the tides is undeniably magical. In every pool a sonorous resonance, a low song for the weary and the tender. Are you fantasizing about starting over? Swimming in Cancer’s ocean, gripped by childlike thoughts and patterns, devastatingly sensitive? It’s time to let go. Stargazers, fear not, just let go, let go, let go. Let go, no matter what you’ve been told, no matter how frightening the thought of letting go may be.

This eclipse, unlike many others, is a settling, riveting force. If you’re not happy, make a change. Vacate the premises, quit your miserable job, leave your not-so-perfect lover, whatever. Of course change can be made whenever, but the longer we wait, the more complicated life becomes, and eclipses provide the perfect window for change. You’re making the right decision if your heart feels lighter. Do not ignore your intuition – ever!

See sun and moon together. Incubate fire and water, fan their alchemical destiny. See the moon swallow the sun whole, see the wild wolf woman reclaim her throne. Welcome this vision of the new earth. A flood is rising, and though it threatens to wash us away, we will ride it out. The moon’s waters come thrashing and moaning in tidal waves of love. We die inside of her and rise, reborn, with the certainty that whatever comes next is more glorious than whatever we leave behind.

The moon enters Leo the day after the eclipse. On July 17, the moon enters Libra, marking the end of the new moon solar eclipse period and beginning of the quarter moon station. When the moon is in Cancer, it is a good time to plant and eat dark leafy greens. Cancer rules the digestive system in the body. Under her influence, our bodies require fresh, nutritious food. Avoid sugar, red meat, dairy and alcohol. Love yourself with heart-centered meditations and Cancer Yoga. To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  I am free

Venus in Virgo ⚢ July 9 – Aug 6

July 9 – Aug 6, 2018

Venus represents romance, pleasure and beauty. Her transits shape love and quality of life. Venus in Virgo teaches us to be more sober and perceptive so that we may better serve others’ needs. Astrologers often misinterpret Virgo as cold and uncaring, but she is actually a very loving, devoted goddess. With Venus in Virgo, demonstrate your affection by simply being available and doing the little things for others.

Virgo is sensitive yet highly reserved, with thin, silvery antennae forever scanning her environs. When planets are in Virgo, we need more movement and stimulation. This energy can be so busy and alert that many Virgo types have trouble sleeping. Venus rules fellow earth sign Taurus, so her natural pace is quite slow; with Venus in Virgo, life is comparably hyperactive.

As an archetype ruled by Mercury, planet of the mind, Virgo is always thinking. This is how she traps herself in ever-tightening circles of fear and paranoia. She forgets how to just be and breathe without questioning everything, constantly needing to know why and how. She forgets, in the midst of endlessly working and preparing, that some things need no explanation, owe no explanation.

But if Virgo really has a flaw, it is her selflessness and the extent to which it can disrupt her own wellbeing. If/when she does anything for herself, Virgo feels guilty. Her identity is inextricably tied to her work and service, and if she is not in service to others, depression is likely. This goddess needs a mission.

I agree that Virgo’s relationship to work and control can be unhealthy, but this dysfunction does not stem from without. Virgo is concerned primarily with self-control, and if she does not have this, that’s when her need for control leaches out in jagged flashes, passive aggressive hurricanes and closed-minded projections. At her best, she is calm in body and mind. She takes good care of her health, delegates her time wisely and sleeps soundly.

Virgo tends to be more cautious than curious. She does not give of herself freely – she is renowned for her hospitality and perfect service, yes, but not for an open heart. And this is where Venus, Goddess of Love, by way of the Virgo portal, performs her yearly exorcism of fear from the heart. Virgo is accepting – but not necessarily understanding – of all. She knows the language of sensibility, loyalty and purpose and gravitates toward those who speak the same.

When we consider Virgo as Libra’s forerunner, we see that Virgo prepares us to receive the wisdom of the scales, and Libra, unlike Virgo, demands acceptance and tolerance of all beings. Venus is ruler of Libra, so we can think of Virgo as the last stop before Venus returns home. Indulging Virgo’s neuroses and rigidity will impede the journey, not unlock Libra’s garden door. In order to pass through, we must uncross our arms and look up from our work for a moment – who is there? Who are they? Will you meet this brother halfway? Cross from the virgin’s field to the tipping point, the center of the scale, as a breeze picks up and dares to knock you down.

This transit starts out with an unpredictable trine to Uranus in Taurus on July 11 – this can bring nothing but good things in the financial/interpersonal realm. On July 13, Venus forms the same friendly angle to Saturn Retrograde in Capricorn – an excellent day for all things related to work and money. On July 24, Venus opposes Neptune Retrograde – this is not a good day for social activities or important conversations. On the lunar eclipse of July 27, Venus forms another powerful trine to Pluto Retrograde in Capricorn, the planet of psychological transformation and rebirth. Holy shift!!

Calm your body with light meals, long walks and Virgo Yoga. Don’t forget your own needs – serve yourself first, then others – tips on maintaining good health in body and mind. While Venus is in Virgo, she is an evening star – look for her just after sunset each night. When she is an evening star, she is known as Hesperus. If you were born with Venus in Virgo, this is your Venus Return. To find your Venus sign, click here.

Mantra:  I am rooted

Last Quarter Moon in Aries ☾ July 6, 2018

Friday, July 6 at 12.52am PST

At the last quarter, the moon rises at midnight, peaks at dawn and sets at noon. If you view the moon at midnight, the Sun will be positioned directly beneath your feet. Staring at the moon during this time will align you so that you are looking right out (approximately) along the forward path of Earth’s orbit around the Sun ^__^

The combative moon in Aries squares the tender Cancer sun. In astrology, squares represent crossroads or decisions points. Last quarter moons clear the way for the new moon / new lunar cycle. Luna initially enters Aries late on 4th of July evening, marking the beginning of the quarter moon phase. At this point we will feel a significant energetic shift, as though waking from sleep.

This square addresses discrepancies between feelings and actions, the ancient forces of water and fire. Together, Aries and Cancer teach peace, cooperation and open communication. From Aries we learn to be bold and fearless, and from Cancer the importance of compassion. Cancer is our mother, and Aries her fiery firstborn son. Cancer exemplifies healthy sensitivity and unconditional love. Aries exemplifies movement, heat, vigor.

Aries is reckless and temperamental one moment, spirited and excitable the next. At his worst, he shuts the crab down, and she crumples from an empowered goddess to a vulnerable child. In this fiery world many choose Aries over Cancer, proverbially speaking, as we are conditioned to value the qualities of Aries over those of Cancer. Shy or insecure people are considered weak and unsuccessful, but we do not all express ourselves uniformly, nor should we. Some speak slowly, others like lightning. Some speak timidly, others are brutally honest. We all learn to express ourselves in time, and in just the right way. This is not a time to be meek, nor is it a time to be rude. Be defiant, be yourself, but don’t bully or let yourself be bullied.

Having said that – now is the perfect time to meditate on passivity. Are you more of a water or fire person, or an air person, floating in between? What can we teach one another? Fire people often hurt water people’s feelings, as they are easily frustrated by water’s slow, dreamlike rhythms and perspectives. Likewise, water types are often too easily offended, both inspired and intimidated by the staccato severity of fire’s course. We have different responsibilities depending on our disposition. If you’re a watery, emotional human, stand up for yourself, listen to your heart. Fiery humans – slow down, take a deep breath, soften your tongue.

This is a time of great movement and connectivity. The summer months bring us together to commune, share, teach, learn, expand. And here comes Aries, quivering with impatience. A blood red mouth sends shrill cries through the canyon. Invisible waterfalls burst into flame, no longer silent. Aries heaves magma into Cancer’s quiet ocean, and her calm waters suddenly begin to boil.

The rage of Aries is impervious to even the most intense dancing and cardiovascular exercise. Trust me, the only way to release the fire is by talking it out. State your feelings! Speak your heart!

When the moon is in Aries, it is a good time to eat, harvest and preserve (red) fruits. This is also an excellent time for massage or acupuncture. Wear energizing gems such as bloodstone, ruby, jasper, carnelian or orange calcite. In meditation, visualize the mind licked clean by cool, blue flames. Calm your bloodlust with Aries Yoga.

Luna’s waning light heralds a return to the womb. As available energy decreases, give yourself time to sleep and reflect. Fortify your energetic walls daily and stay well hydrated. To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  I AM

Full Moon in Capricorn 🐐 June 27, 2018

Wednesday, June 27 at 9.54pm PST

The Algonquins called this full moon the Buck Moon as it coincides with new antler growth on young male deer. It is also called the Thunder Moon for summertime storms. The moon will rise at sunset, peak at midnight and set at sunrise.

Sun and moon oppose one another in Cancer and Capricorn. The Cancer solar cycle is an inward journey. On this watery quest, the full moon rises like a wave crushing the heart. Though this full moon represents Luna’s peak in many ways, she is in her “detriment” in Capricorn, the sign opposite the one she rules, which would be Cancer. When a planet is in the sign of its detriment, the planet is weak and strained. In other words, you may feel especially moody or sensitive.

The Cancer-Capricorn polarity is – roughly – between the heart and the head. The psychic membrane separating Cancer from the external world is thin and porous. Cancer’s heart is her primary directorate, yet she clings to cloying comforts. Too much Cancer energy makes us sad and worried. Capricorn teaches the crab logic and emotional discipline.

The crab and goat prefer relationships/environments promising longevity and security. They also love art, food, cats, sleep and relaxation. These creatures yearn to put down roots and get settled early in life, physically or emotionally. A stable partner is (usually) a priority element in what it means to be settled, but not always. This full moon is about home and what makes us feel at home. It’s about love and commitment.

Full moons are high energy and felt not just the day of, but for days before and after. They heighten emotions and intuition, such as women experience before menstruation. Cancer’s mantra is “I feel.” Under her full moon, we are more likely to overreact. If you’re unhappy, accept your circumstances right away and don’t waste energy fighting them. Take a deep breath if you are feeling provoked or overwhelmed. If you have a safe space to do it, let it all out, whatever you’re feeling.

This full moon will form a nearly perfect conjunction to Saturn Retrograde in Capricorn. This is the best possible ally for the moon, as Saturn rules Capricorn and has been “at home” here since Dec 2017. Saturn is a cautious, defensive force who will protect our vulnerable hearts at this full moon. Sarcasm or fear of rejection/failure may be mistaken for coldness or pessimism. Let yourself love and be loved. This is an excellent day for professional or financial endeavors as Saturn increases our sense of responsibility.

I recommend wearing cool or earth tones. In meditation, focus on the heart chakra. Stay rooted with advice from elders and Capricorn Yoga. To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  I feel!

Mars Retrograde ♂ Summer 2018

Mars in Aquarius: May 15 – June 26

Mars Retrograde in Aquarius: June 26 – Aug 12

Mars Retrograde in Capricorn: Aug 12 – 27

Mars in Capricorn: Aug 27 – Sep 10

Mars in Aquarius: Sep 10 – Nov 15

Planets in retrograde are not actually spinning backwards – it is entirely an optical illusion as seen from Earth. Backwards motion appears to happen when Earth passes slower moving planets in the outer solar system. In astrology, this illusion manifests as a “backwards” functioning of the planetary roles. Click here to learn more about retrograde.

Mars turns retrograde once every two years for about two months. We last experienced Mars Retrograde from Apr 17 – June 29, 2016. This next retrograde falls first in airy Aquarius, then earthen Capricorn. The retrograde period begins June 26, but we will start to feel the effects of this cycle as soon as May 12. Mars Retrograde ends Aug 27 in the constellation of Capricorn. We will feel back to normal about a month after Mars has re-entered Aquarius, around Oct 8. Mars will then continue to hang out in Aquarius until Nov 15 before finally resting his bones in Pisces.

Lots of information, but I’ll break it down for you. First – Mars in Capricorn, and what the first two months of spring hold for us, and how this will be revisited in August for two weeks when Mars retrogrades all the way back to Capricorn. With Mars in Capricorn, there is a strong compulsion to be productive. Capricorn is associated with work, structure, foundation, direction, utility and application. He takes everything very seriously. We will gravitate towards a routine, a set framework. I visualize Capricorn as a punctilious office; a functional government; a family farm; a stern grandfather; a prodigious workforce. Likely topics of conversation will involve work, finance or organization.

Pay very close attention to what goes on around you at work. Watch for rancorous power struggles. Think back to Sep-Nov 2016, when Mars last transited Capricorn. At this time I was in a brand new work situation, beginning to notice cracks and fissures in what was ostensibly a happy place. It didn’t end well, but maybe it would have, had I listened more closely to the sea goat’s wizened voice creaking from the tree hollow. No matter what happens, work-related issues that initially surface in the spring will be resolved or at least revisited in August.

Capricorn is a stoic observer. His mantra: I use, like the body as it climbs and sweats, puffing dusky chill. The sea goat belongs to the earth element, and he can certainly be heavy and resistant. With Mars in Capricorn, we may feel stuck, lethargic. Rigidity steals flexibility from the soul-joints. As this happens, the ego pressurizes the spirit, demanding more, and the tired spirit falls into deep trenches of self-criticism and stress. Forget the head trip, curl up with a good book and sink into your bones. Chopping wood is an excellent way to channel Mars in Capricorn. I recommend eating light meals, going to sleep early and exercising upon waking.

Let’s talk about Mars in Aquarius, where most of the retrograde will take place. Mars in Aquarius is comparably light and unemotional, at once a social butterfly and a diehard individualist: brilliant, forthright and defiant. We will have the opportunity to approach emotionally-charged issues with a calm, cool mind. In remaining detached, we free ourselves from anger and sadness.

The Aquarian retrograde will expand and rearrange our social circles. Aquarius sources energy from the collective. Ironically, we will demand total independence. You may intentionally shock others with unusual or outlandish behavior. Aquarius is (often) the most erratic, unorganized brother in the zodiac. His mind and tongue are way ahead of his body. We must make a concerted effort to stay focused. Mars in Aquarius can also be lazy, but it’s certainly not energy he lacks – he just doesn’t want to do anything.

The purpose of Mars Retrograde is emotional and spiritual cleansing via bodily channels. Mars Retrograde means serious physical recalibration. Diet, sleep, exercise, health and wellness, meditation, yoga, weight – all of these and more may be thrown off. We must digest all of these changes and maintain a healthy routine. Lingering imbalances in the body will demand to be known. Anything that has not been properly healed will unearth itself so ferociously that you will be forced to finally address it, and perhaps more importantly, acknowledge its non-physical origins. The physical body is the last stop. Disturbances in the outer, subtle levels of the aura percolate down to the bodily level in a cry for attention. The most vulnerable areas of the body during this time include the bones and joints (especially knees and teeth), as well as the lower legs and Achilles.

Mars Retrograde also asks us to meditate on sexuality, body image and intimacy. Consider bodily perception, consider sexuality imbued in the act of gazing. On this subject, a certain viciousness dares to arise as we clamor, hot flesh brushed by spiked words.

Mars Retrograde is active in nature. Master your lessons by moving and climbing, and in so doing, resurrect the body as the most powerful means to engage the psyche. Mars Retrograde can be a confusing cycle. Time will feel as though it has frozen, but this is fortuitous. Just before it all ends, we will be downloaded with profound insight. But even after the retrograde period has come to a close, sit very still. Wait until you are completely settled before deciding on a direction.

For stability during the Capricorn retrograde, try Capricorn Yoga. For an influx of fresh energy during the Aquarius retrograde, try Aquarius Yoga. To find your personal Mars sign and see whether this planet was retrograde when you were born, click here.

Mantra: resurrection

Sun in Cancer ☼ June 21 – July 22

June 21 (Summer Solstice) – July 22, 2018

The Sun sign is a much-celebrated astrological element, usually given more significance than it deserves. Remember – the Sun is just one planet in your star-soup.

The summer solstice marks the beginning of Cancer season every year. Happy birthday crabbiez!

Cancer absorbs everything around her, including other people’s thoughts, moods and negative vibrations. For those who are already very sensitive, make a point to fortify your bubble every morning during this cycle. Visualize an impenetrable white light around your entire body.

Cancer is ruled by the moon. Every day the moon rises at a different time and place with a different shape and color. In similar fashion, the crab shifts from day to day. She is tender, nostalgic, forever mourning the sweetness of childhood.

Go home and spend time with family, if you’re willing and able. Take a walk down memory lane. Revisit your roots. Sleep in your childhood bed, hang out in grandma’s kitchen. Home, roots and family serve as a clarifying compass. These things remind us of who we are and who we are not. Our roots lay everything bare: neuroses, habits, forlorn dreams.

The qualities of the crab are undervalued by patriarchal society. Cancer nurtures all forms of life. She surrenders to the tides of her heart with total abandon. These tides are not always calm, and this season is awash with many moods, some lovely, others not. Take care of yourself, listen to both sides of your brain.

The crab is a slow-moving creature. In Ayurveda, Cancer is best represented by the kapha dosha, which is most similar to the water or earth element. Kapha individuals need more sleep than the average person. They are generally soft, gentle, dreamy, romantic, creative, intuitive, empathic and sentimental. Common characteristics of kapha individuals include introversion, tendency to gain weight, round faces and light colored eyes. Kapha types should avoid dairy and gluten and eat more raw fruit, vegetables and spicy foods. There are lots of free, legitimate tests you can take online to determine your dosha. Search for “dosha test” or “prakriti test.” I highly recommend finding out what your dosha is – this can be a HUGE help in deciding which foods are best for you to eat.

Speaking of food, Cancer rules the stomach, digestive system, pancreas, womb, breasts, sternum and lower ribs. Cancer Yoga is meant not only to open the heart and awaken your goddess, but can also alleviate indigestion.

One yogic concept I associate with Cancer is samana, which represents physical/mental/emotional forces spiraling inward. This force emanates primarily from the solar plexus and travels through the digestive tract. Samana translates as “middle” force because it lies in the center of the body, and because it integrates all other forces in the body. Samana governs agni, or “digestive fire.” Other physiological processes ruled by samana include absorption and assimilation of nutrients, intestinal consolidation, metabolism, homeostasis and emotional discernment. To keep samana strong and healthy, try twisting and folding poses to constrict the visceral organs and lower abdomen. Poses performed on the stomach also help spread samana throughout the body.

The first day of this cycle coincides with a difficult opposition between Venus and Mars. Mars Retrograde begins one day before the full moon on June 27. Mercury leaves the sun alone in Cancer on June 28 when he moves on to Leo. July 5 is not a good day to travel or take risks. One of the best days comes on July 8 when the sun forms a harmonious trine to Neptune. Jupiter Retrograde ends on July 10. The solar eclipse of July 12 will directly oppose Pluto – VERY INTENSE. The next Mercury Retrograde begins four days after the Cancer cycle ends.

Wind fades to rain, steadfast and unyielding, kissing seeds buried in forested souls. Drink these guiding waters, infuse your blood with love. I recommend ample moongazing, and prepare for a potent full moon and solar eclipse!!! Calm your heart with motherly advice and heart-centered meditation.

Mantra:  I feel

First Quarter Moon in Virgo #2 ☽ June 20, 2018

Wednesday, June 20 at 3.52am PST

The Sun in Gemini squares the moon in Virgo again – we just had a quarter moon in Virgo on May 21. Reflect on this day to learn what themes are returning. The moon will rise at noon, peak at dusk and set at midnight.

This is an incredibly busy, action-packed moon phase with both mind and body moving at the speed of light. Under the Gemini sun, we are exceptionally social and extroverted. With a Virgo moon pitted in the stomach and a Gemini sun chasing wind spirits through the clouds, life is a blur. Work, friendship and creative inspiration blossom like limes from a dripping turquoise vine. The spirit responds with giddy laughter, bending up and out of the body.

Virgo rules work and health. Her gifts often come in the form of manual labor. At this quarter moon, give thanks to work, co-workers, land, routine, schedule and order. See everyone moving together, high on hive mind. Visualize polished machines, bicycles, gears and wheels.

Virgo demands responsibility and discipline. Her shadow is an anxious, ruthless perfectionist, obsessed with practicality. Virgo goads us to work harder, longer, faster. She helps Gemini get out of the mind and back to the hands, back to the soil.

Our soul yearns now for work and routine. Find a groove and dig into it. Help your neighbors, reach out to your community. When the day is done, make food together. Celebrate the fruits of your harvest. Revel in the strength of your body. Sweat and bleed on the earth. Let her know you are here.

We all have different interests, abilities and opportunities, which means that we all enjoy different work. Some people work outside, some people stay inside all day. Some people work towards sustainability, others are destroying the environment. As humans, we seek meaning and purpose in our work. Activity which make one feel genuinely productive and useful is a great antidote to depression. Good work is like good yoga: it clears the mind and body of impurities.

This phase comes on the last day of the Gemini solar cycle. The moon is waxing, gathering momentum for fullness. Luna moves into Libra just a couple hours after the quarter moon is exact. A harmonious trine will form between Mercury and Neptune, so it should be a very warm and fuzzy day. However, the day after this quarter moon (Summer Solstice) there is a challenging opposition between Venus and Mars. Actually, when I look at the calendar, it seems like the rest of the summer is going to be pretty crazy. Lots of eclipses and retrogrades on the horizon!

Look and ye shall find humble farmers all around. Go outside, get dirty. Receive the blessings of the earth. I suggest twisting yoga poses to increase blood flow to the intestines, ruled by Virgo. Stay healthy with light meals and Virgo Yoga. To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  at your service

Neptune Retrograde ♆ June 18 – Nov 24

June 18 – Nov 24, 2018

Planets in retrograde are not actually spinning backwards – it is entirely an optical illusion as seen from Earth. Backwards motion appears to happen when Earth passes slower moving planets in the outer solar system. In astrology, this illusion manifests as a “backwards” functioning of the planetary roles. Click here to learn more about retrograde.

Since April 2011, Neptune has been in Pisces, the sign she rules. With Neptune at home in Pisces, a global spiritual awakening continues to unfold. This also continues to manifest as a collective (existential) crisis. Many trends reflect Neptune in Pisces: rapid legalization of medical/recreational marijuana; popularity of yoga and transcendental meditation; extra-terrestrial themes in music and pop culture; simulators and next-level games blurring the lines between physical and virtual reality; skyrocketing opioid addiction, and so on. The membranes between each dimension and universe grow thinner by the day.

Neptune is a mystic and medium, an ending and beginning, the source of all. She is (ego) death, sacrifice, surrender. Neptune turns retrograde five months out of every year. Neptune Retrograde confronts our addictions. She teaches us that vices do not equate to higher consciousness, though addiction and escapist behaviors are really just yearnings for greater soul awareness. I highly recommend avoiding all unhealthy vices during this cycle, addict or not. Coleman Bark’s introduction to a collection of poems by Rumi:

The grapeskin of ego breaks and a pouring begins. Fermentation is one of the oldest symbols for human transformation. When grapes combine their juice and are closed up together for a time in a dark place, the results are spectacular. This is what lets two drunks meet so that they don’t know who is who. Pronouns no longer apply in the tavern’s mud-world of excited confusion and half-articulated wantings. But after some time in the tavern, a point comes, a memory of elsewhere, a longing for the source, and the drunks must set off from the tavern and return … The tavern is a kind of glorious hell that human beings enjoy and suffer and then push off from in search for truth … A breaking apart, a crying out in the street, begins in the tavern, and the human soul turns to find its way home. (The Essential Rumi, p. 1)

When Neptune turns retrograde in Pisces, she takes us to the subconscious realm. From Kilaya Ciriello’s “The Scorpio Ring of Fire: An Astrological Journey into the Heart of the Galactic Center”:

[T]he archetype of Pisces is the story of two fish – one swimming down to the depths and the other swimming up to the surface of an ocean … [T]he archetype of Pisces includes a simple choice to do good or bad, to move towards the light or towards the darkness … For a fish it feels the same to swim up or down and this tells us that within Pisces it is often difficult to distinguish between what is good versus what is bad. So like a fish in the ocean, when under the influence of Pisces, deciding where to go is often confusing because things appear murky, not clear or out of focus. (p. 69)

Anything you do on a daily basis that makes you feel happy and healthy is a spiritual practice, like a morning walk, an art project or a jam session. Without such practices, we are highly susceptible to Neptunian temptation. This is a dangerous place to be. Keep your inner world burning brightly. Beware netherworld sea creatures swimming into your dopamine receptors, whispering they’ve got something you’d like, just what you’ve been looking for. Think of this transit as an exercise in self-control.

This is the time of year when we are most likely to engage in regressive, destructive behavior. We might enter into an unhealthy relationship, for example. Get all the details and take your time. Unlike other planetary retrogrades, Neptune does not push, she pulls. Neptune muddles logic until it vanishes. Stand strong against impulse and seduction, my friends, because I can tell you now that if it seems too good to be true, Neptune the Queen of Illusion has something waiting for you in the chamber. Even if you do mistakenly swim into the belly of the shark, look around and you will find a light, a way out. Neptune never leaves us totally hangin.

Neptune Retrograde is an introspective and reflective period. A surge in emotional sensitivity or preternatural abilities is not uncommon, but you may struggle to express yourself. This transit is like being woven into a cocoon – how to transmute the experience from within?

The first lovely day of this transit comes right at the beginning, on the quarter moon in Virgo of June 20 – Neptune forms a friendly trine to Mercury, ruler of Virgo. On July 8, she forms the same harmonious aspect to the sun. A less fortuitous day comes on July 24 – Venus will directly oppose Neptune. On Aug 18, another trine with Jupiter in Scorpio – this is also the last day of Mercury Retrograde! We first saw Jupiter trine Neptune on Dec 2, 2017 and most recently on May 25, so think back to these dates to get an idea of what it’s all about. On Sep 7, Neptune directly opposes the sun – another challenging day, but resolution will come no later than Nov 5. A similar influence on Sep 13 when Neptune opposes Mercury – this one will find resolution by Oct 19.

Listen to haunting Neptune, the Mystic from The Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. Celebrate Neptune with Pisces Yoga. I was born with Neptune Retrograde. To find your Neptune sign and whether she was direct or retrograde at the time of your birth, click here.

Mantra:  I believe

Venus in Leo ⚢ June 13 – July 9

June 13 – July 9, 2018

Venus represents art and romance, pleasure and beauty. Her transits speak to the heart. The heart beams exuberantly in Leo. Venus, Goddess of Love, is quite at home here. First we learned to save and stabilize, financially and emotionally (Venus in Cancer), and now we can spend freely and lounge in leisure (Leo). The highest manifestation of Venus in Leo is mutual respect and childlike joy.

Leo is a fire sign, like his brothers Aries and Sagittarius. Fire signs are active and forthright in nature. The lion is a zesty beast with plenty of opinions. He is confident and decisive, yet argumentative, stubborn, possessive. He lives by rigid rules which change according to his fickle mood. In the heat of the moment, Leo may say things he doesn’t really mean, then apologize with real remorse. The lion’s heart is open and courageous, yet easily bruised. One of Leo’s faces is the angry child who inflicts pain outwardly to try and make his own pain go away. If you submit to this impulse, the inner child will darken in shades of violent emotion. Capture your angst in creative work!

When the Goddess of Love braids Leo’s mane, we learn the art of appreciation for self and others. The lion needs — as we all do — to feel acknowledged. Though Leo enjoys being pampered, he (usually) returns the favor. Indeed, the emotionally balanced lion gives fivefold what he receives.

Let’s look at Leo from a greater context, as Virgo’s predecessor. Leo prepares us to receive the virgin’s harvest. Virgo is a serious woman. Succumbing to leonine desire is actually a very necessary step before entering Virgo’s domain. It is no secret that Leo likes to indulge. His greatest lesson involves curbing his desires – desire for material possessions, food and drink, vacations, luxuries of all kinds. If he has money, he will spend it. Having said this, I still think it is wise to follow in Leo’s extravagant footsteps so that we may learn to budget our expenses and our hearts. Push until you find the boundary, then retreat humbly.

The first day of Venus in Leo is also the New Moon in Gemini. This is a wonderful way to begin the cycle. However, the following day Venus will square Uranus in Taurus, and this is certainly not auspicious. Prepare for the unexpected, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships. On the summer solstice, Venus strikes again with an opposition to Mars in Aquarius. Watch for conflict and emotional volatility. On June 25, Venus squares Jupiter Retrograde in Scorpio – another difficult influence! Mercury joins her in Leo on June 28, one day after the full moon.

Whether you’re single, lovesick, alone in the woods or melting in a city, you’ll feel Leo’s blaze gushing from your savage soul. Don’t hesitate to channel your most expressive, extroverted self.

While Venus is in Leo, she is an evening star, setting just after the sun each night. When she is an evening star, she is known as Hesperus. Express yourself with art and Leo Yoga. If you were born with Venus in Leo, this is your Venus Return! To find your personal Venus sign, click here.

Mantra:  self-control

New Moon in Gemini ♊ June 13, 2018

Wednesday, June 13 at 12.45pm PST

New moons are new beginnings. Every month the new moon falls in the same sign as the sun, wherever he happens to be. This lunar-solar conjunction is what we call a new moon. Sometimes this conjunction creates a solar eclipse, but not every month. The next solar eclipse is coming soon though – July 12!

The New Moon in Gemini is a cleansing starlight. The twins spin absentmindedly like weather vanes in a cool breeze. They carry the unmistakable scent of freedom. I see blue eyes electrifying the sky. I see mercury quivering, a feather drifting aloft. I see warm nights and bare arms, laughing fairies and painted flowers. Break your mind open, explore the infinite. Fly toward a new destination, within or without. We are scintillating seedlings surfing the air.

Everything is in constant motion. Arriving at stillness amidst such chaotic cellular activity seems ridiculous, impossible, laughable. Yet in this lifetime and the next and the next, this is exactly our task, and Gemini’s greatest lesson. See yourself as an entity that also embodies this contradiction: stillness in motion. We are perpetually becoming and being – in this realization, ecstasy. On the idea of becoming: “What would it mean to begin always from the middle? To experiment with renouncing that lure of mastery with which definitive beginnings and endings seduce thought?” – L.B. Higgins, Becoming through Multiplicity (2011)

Often new moons make us feel tired, but not in Gemini. This new moon coincides with the first day of Venus in Leo, so it should be exceptionally extroverted and boisterous. The day after the new moon, Luna will already be home in Cancer. By the weekend she will join Venus in Leo. On June 18 she enters Virgo, marking the end of the new moon period and beginning of the quarter moon.

You may still be tottering on the edge, dancing between two or more prospective realities. At this juncture, go for it wholeheartedly, or otherwise prepare to “settle” at next month’s new moon. This is the not the last open window, but it’s the last window that opens easily. The upcoming cycle holds the possibility of emotional drama.

In yoga and meditation, focus on the shoulders, arms and throat chakra. I recommend wearing blue, white or metallic tones. Calm the mind with deep breaths and Gemini Yoga. Notice the way in which your breath dictates, in part if not entirely, patterns of thought and perception. If possible, find an outdoor location where the wind blows strongly. Meditate here.

To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  freedom

Mercury in Cancer ☿ June 12-28

June 12–28, 2018

In the central plaza of ancient Rome stood gilt statues of gods and goddesses. Mercury and his father Jupiter were both depicted. Mercury is the cosmic patron of economics, travel, communication, perception and the human mind. He is also an orator, poet, soothsayer, healer, lucky star and underworld guide. With magical caduceus in hand, Mercury led freshly discorporated souls from the lower to the upper worlds.

Think of Mercury as a support beam for the sun and Venus. When Mercury joins the sun and/or Venus in the same constellation, the mind (Mercury) aligns with outward manifestation (sun) and the heart (Venus). Taking this into account, the last week of this transit (June 21-28) will be the most synergistic as the sun will also be in Cancer at this time. Venus’ last day in Cancer is Mercury’s first – she joins Mercury only for the first day of this transit (June 12).

Mercury is said to have made the first lyre from a tortoise shell. The tortoise, like Mercury, guides souls between worlds. In many cultures, turtles are cosmic symbols of rebirth. According to the Iroquois, it was the turtle who graciously transformed to become the earth. Though tortoises are physically slow moving, their wisdom ascends and expands as they age. This is the perfect visual for Mercury in Cancer: an ancient tortoise housed in ancient insight; at once slow and fast, rock solid yet lighter than light.

When Mercury the Messenger fishes for crabs, the heart opens to the mind. It is time to wander softly to the past, to home, to family. Cancer is sweet and low like summertime rain. Ever earnest, protective and prudent, yet speculating and fanciful. Cancer tumbles in giggling waterwheels of soul springs. She is the constellation of heartfelt anecdotes, rambling tangents, motherly love and youthful, wide-eyed impressions. The crab is sensitive, yes, but not weak.

Cancer’s loving friends and family help to bolster her chronically deflated confidence. They listen to her betray her own brilliance and beauty with constant self-deprecation. We all know people like this. They never know how delightful they really are.

Cancer cares deeply, feels deeply and will fight only out of insecurity. What we have to work on during this transit is reactivity. Steer clear of fearful or clinging thoughts. In The Four Agreements, Miguel Ruiz writes that “nothing in life is personal.” This is particularly difficult for the crab. She is beholden to the ever-changing tides of her innermost being, jostled by the moon. But these tides are not inherently uncontrollable. They are the chitta and vrittis of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and their unruliness inspired the entire practice of yoga and meditation!

The first full day of Mercury in Cancer is a new moon (June 13). We will be well-acquainted with the Gemini season by then. A difficult day comes on June 15 when Mercury opposes Saturn Retrograde in Capricorn. Watch for conflict in the professional realm. On June 19, Mercury forms a friendly angle to Jupiter Retrograde in Scorpio. This is an excellent day for important conversations. The following day looks mixed – important conversations should be avoided. Lastly, June 23 looks difficult as Mercury will oppose Pluto Retrograde in Capricorn. The last full day of Mercury in Cancer is a full moon (June 27).

Stay hydrated and spend time in/near a body of water if possible. Find the happy people. Calm your mind with swimming and Cancer Yoga. Seek counsel from mother figures in your life. Give special attention to your stomach and digestion. In meditation, focus on the heart chakra. Wear pastels and cool colors. If you were born with Mercury in Cancer, these couple weeks are your Mercury Return. To find your personal Mercury sign, click here.

Mantra:  my heart speaks

Last Quarter Moon in Pisces ☾ June 6, 2018

Wednesday, June 6 at 11.34am PST

At the last quarter, the moon rises at midnight, peaks at dawn and sets at noon. If you view the moon at midnight, the Sun will be positioned directly beneath your feet. Staring at the moon during this time will align you so that you are looking right out (approximately) along the forward path of Earth’s orbit around the Sun ^__^

The foggy moon in Pisces squares the Sun in Gemini. When these mutable constellations get together, the mind and spirit race like flying fish through the clouds. Luna initially moves into Pisces on the morning of June 5, so we’ll start feeling this moon phase a day before the actual quarter moon. Quarter moons are crossroads or decision points prompting change. Last quarter moons clear the way for the new moon / new lunar cycle. The purpose of this quarter moon is synchronization of waking life and mental activity (Gemini) with our highest spiritual beliefs (Pisces).

As we descend with Pisces to her underwater cove, a wave from the sea of confusion crashes down. Pisces is an abstract mural, swirling and swelling kaleidoscopically. She is soft and amorphous, dispersed at the lightest touch. Pisces tugs us back to our watery birthplace, the home within where flowers never crumple. The fishes remind Gemini how to meditate, how to ramble in psychedelic dimensions. Pisces flows upstream to the wordless origins of ajna – insight – creativity. Gemini, mind aflutter, resolves to bring us back to the left brain.

Gemini struggles to integrate. Disparate, dissatisfied, like empty rhetoric, constant and unassuageable. Pisces whispers: dear Gemini, be still. Be one with the mind. Both Gemini and Pisces know the twisted bliss of drifting, fantasy, insanity and finally, surrender.

At this quarter moon, Luna will be conjunct Neptune, at home in her ruling constellation of Pisces. On the same day, the sun will be conjunct Mercury, at home in his ruling constellation of Gemini! It is as though the sun and moon are grabbing their best defense possible. In Pisces the moon claims the fish queen; in Gemini, the sun claims the mercurial messenger; and together these lunar and solar teams square one another. A cosmic battle of epic proportions is unfolding! The moon and Neptune have someone else special on their side, however, as they will form a friendly trine to Jupiter Retrograde in Scorpio. The moon enters Aries on June 7 – at this point we will feel a significant shift in energy, as though waking from sleep. This is a good time to eat, harvest and preserve fruits. Get your heart rate up with cardiovascular exercise.

When the moon is in Pisces, it is a good time to eat dark leafy greens and water your plants. If possible, spend time near a body of water. Pisces rules the feet and lymphatic system. Give yourself and/or your partner a foot massage and look up lymph draining exercises (see Pisces Yoga), some of which involve moving the whole body, tapping in specific locations or massaging the jaw and scalene muscles, for example. The lymphatic system does not have a pump as does the circulatory system, so we have to get our immunity-boosting lymph moving ourselves.

Luna’s waning light heralds a return to the womb. Bow your head. Release and forgive. Destroy useless internal edifices. Empty yourself. As available energy decreases, you may feel exhausted, so give yourself more time to sleep and reflect. At this moon phase, channel the stars through equal parts writing and meditation. Release with art, music, dance and solitude. Wear blue or white tones. In meditation, focus on the crown chakra. To find your personal moon sign, click here.

Mantra:  I believe