New Moon in Gemini!

New MoonThe Gemini New Moon  which takes place at 8:10 am on Sunday morning EDT.  This New Moon is exactly trine the North Node of the Moon, revealing this as an event with the potential for real significance in our lives.  The North Node assists us in our quest to realize our soul’s purpose, and a new beginning is possible here, especially in the area of your chart where the New Moon falls.

The New Moon chart includes a challenging square from Mercury to the triple conjunction of Jupiter, Chiron and Neptune, and a harmonious sextile from Mercury to Uranus.  This suggests that the mind will not be of great help now unless we let go of our old ways of thinking about our lives and allow ourselves to expand our thinking to allow for new possibilities.  This is an event for the heart and for the soul, linking the two in a completely new way.

A harmonious sextile from Mars to the triple conjunction helps to provide the fire and enthusiasm to keep us inspired so that we can take advantage of the powerful energy available now.

“Very bad mercury retrograde”

I had to laugh when I was looking at the stats and found that several people used this phrase to find this site.  I’ve had quite a few emails complaining about the intensity of this Mercury retrograde, and if the past week has been super-intense for you you’re not alone.

This Jupiter/Chiron/Neptune conjunction is kicking some serious butt, and ever since Mercury retrograded back into Taurus it’s been approaching a square to the triple conjunction.  So not only are we having communication difficulties, these difficulties are bringing up a host of other issues at the same time.  It doesn’t help that both Chiron and Neptune are slowing down as they prepare to change direction in a few days and that intensifies their effect.

Chiron makes it difficult to hide from ourselves, and Neptune makes it difficult to see things clearly. It’s a complicated combination of planets, and the square to Mercury challenges our ability to intellectualize and clarify the events in our lives.  There IS a purpose to all of this madness – to encourage us to live in truth and become ever more aware of the spiritual underpinnings of our lives.  Not always an easy thing to do on Planet Earth!

Mercury changes direction on May 31 which will bring some relief, but it will then move into position to square Chiron and Neptune once more on June 9.  This is serious soul work time, and that is never easy.

Kris Allen and Adam Lambert: the New American Idols

Kris AllenKris Allen sped ahead of the pack last night to take home the American Idol crown in a surprise upset over Adam Lambert, who had been expected to win.  Allen’s surprising victory echoed last year’s surprise win by David Cook (profiled by me in this earlier article).

Kris has an interesting astrological chart that should blow away a few concepts.  First of all, five planets are retrograde in his chart, a phenomenon that is relatively rare but which has traditionally been associated with bad luck and an inability to achieve one’s goals.  While it’s true that retrograde planets can make it more difficult to move forward in one’s life because we are always being pulled back into the past, a strong intention and focus can overcome any planetary difficulty in the birthchart.

Kris has the Sun in Cancer, the sign of family ties and caring for others, and it opposes Neptune almost exactly.  Neptune/Sun aspects are often connected to an affinity for music and sometimes, depending on the rest of the chart, musical talent  (David Cook has a Sun/Neptune conjunction). When Neptune and the Sun combine there is also usually a strong spiritual component in the life.

With the Sun in shy Cancer and a Neptune/Sun opposition which can make it difficult to forge a strong identity, we would not have expected Kris to be someone who seeks the limelight.  His Leo Moon inspires a craving for fame and recognition, and to be celebrated for his talents, but it is squared by Saturn which inhibits him from seeking this kind of recognition.  Saturn also opposes Venus, which enhances this sense of inhibition and shyness.  But according to the judges, it was just that low-key sensitivity that won him the American Idol crown.

Evidently Kris only auditioned because his brother Daniel talked him into coming along with him, and Kris may never have gotten to the American Idol stage if it weren’t for Pluto.  Pluto is in a trine formation to the Sun in Kris’s birthchart which helps to keep him on a steady path of transformation in his life despite the retrograde planets and Saturn T-square system with the Moon and Venus.

Pluto is the planet of transformation, and transits of Pluto are often feared for their intensity and power to change our lives completely.  Pluto first began an opposition cycle to Kris’s Sun back in January of 2008, and the second hit of the cycle occurred in June, just before the auditions in July 2008.  By the time the results were announced in February of 2009, transiting Pluto was in a harmonious sextile formation to Pluto in his chart.

The harmonious Pluto cycles bring opportunity to let go of the past and begin a completely new phase of our lives.  Harmonious cycles are usually pleasant but they don’t normally bring about huge events like winning American Idol, but a combination of a harmonious Pluto cycle with a challenging one like the opposition of Pluto to Kris’s Sun create a dynamic force of events.

The victory by the soft-spoken Christian with conservative values over the more flamboyant and probably gay glam-rocker have raised a few eyebrows.  Is this a symptom of the culture war going on as symbolized by the ongoing opposition of Saturn in the sky (conservative values) to Uranus (change and innovation)?  Or is this just a question of American Idol voters preferring someone who is more like them, a really nice guy from America’s heartland with simple values, to a more flamboyant artist with clearly exceptional talent but who is less approachable?

Adam LambertAdam Lambert has the Sun in Aquarius, and it conjuncts Mercury which is often seen as a planetary combination which signifies a desire to take on many roles including a more androgynous personality.  Aquarius has an open mind and embraces that which is different and new, and where Kris has that Saturn T-square which contracts and creates a desire for conservatism, Adam has a square of Jupiter (expansion, confidence) to his Sun.  He is not afraid to be who he is and to have that sense of Self be as large as possible.

Adam’s chart is being torched right now by the triple conjunction of Jupiter (good fortune), Chiron (wounding and healing) and Neptune (confusion and creativity) in a harmonious aspect to both Neptune and Pluto in his natal chart.  This is a significant time for him, and while he may not have won the competition I suspect that this is just the beginning for his career.

Meditation increases the size of your brain

meditationIf you needed an excuse to begin meditating or expand your practice, this could be it:

Push-ups, crunches, gyms, personal trainers –people have many strategies for building bigger muscles and stronger bones. But what can one do to build a bigger brain?

Meditate.

That’s the finding from a group of researchers at UCLA who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. In a study published in the journal NeuroImage and currently available online (by subscription), the researchers report that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group.
Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus — all regions known for regulating emotions.

“We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior,” said Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. “The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have these exceptional abilities.”

Research has confirmed the beneficial aspects of meditation. In addition to having better focus and control over their emotions, many people who meditate regularly have reduced levels of stress and bolstered immune systems. But less is known about the link between meditation and brain structure.

In the study, Luders and her colleagues examined 44 people — 22 control subjects and 22 who had practiced various forms of meditation, including Zazen, Samatha and Vipassana, among others. The amount of time they had practiced ranged from five to 46 years, with an average of 24 years.
More than half of all the meditators said that deep concentration was an essential part of their practice, and most meditated between 10 and 90 minutes every day.

Dr. Andy Newberg has done similar research on Tibetan meditators.  The brain of the meditators expanded in areas which regulate emotion and this could account for the increased adaptability of people who meditate to stress.  And then there is the additional benefit of connecting more deeply with the Source that lies within us, and what better time to accomplish this than during the conjunction of Chiron and Neptune!

Why Sun Signs are Stupid

I love this video from Jeff - and while I completely agree with his rant against reducing astrology to a simplistic look at sun signs, I would like to point out that all of us do have Suns, and they are all in signs, and that the Sun is the most important single piece of the chart.  However, it is still just one part of a celestial puzzle, and every piece is an important one.

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