It's the last month of 2018 and, honestly, it couldn't have come soon enough. It feels almost impossible that it's still 2018, since we've basically lived the span of five years in just the one. There have been so many natural disasters, political upheavals, and heartbreaks. So many SNL skits about that one alien abduction where I got to thinking that it wouldn't be so bad. We've sent robots to Mars while Mars is in Pisces, a recipe for robot poetry if I ever heard of it. We survived yet another Venus retrograde and have commenced slogging through its shadow period, poised to look at the underside of everything we've loved (as Adrienne Rich might have written if she were an astrology writer). Mercury retrograde finishes up the first week of December and remains in Scorpio, where Venus parks her cruiser and enjoy a desert wind. It's shadowy, but like Kurt Cobain sang, "It's okay, my will is good."
This last month is an emotional charcuterie board, and the planets stand to be as amused by us as we are intrigued by them. A strong trine there, a north node-south node access that brings Cancer and Libra back into the role of intellectual guardians. A new moon in Sagittarius and a full moon Libra sound like the kind of slumber parties where we practiced sexual favors on each other all night "for information," so I hope you brought your lip balm.
With kisses and many moons,
I don't mean to be a broken record, Aries, but I can't let this year close without speaking about Uranus's transit back into your sign. Given the focus on the move that Uranus, planet of world-wide reform and transformation, made into Taurus this year—a move that highlighted many of our earthly troubles (troubles that are by no means U.S exclusive but hey, since we're here: U.S president cuts NASA climate monitoring program, rolls back on endangered species act, quits Paris Climate Agreement, etc.)—we haven't really had the chance, as a conscious collective to think about what it might feel like for such a planet to leave the sign it has been in for approximately eight years. I want you to think about how long eight years is for you, who you were in 2011 and who are you now. If it's hard for a person to move on, with their singular memory, their mortal consciousness, imagine how hard it might be for a planet to leave you without knowing that he's done everything he can to teach you what he knows.
Eight years to a planet is an Earthly affair, an intergalactic tryst that changes both entities whether each one admits it or not. Although Uranus is ready to move on, he feels a lasting tug toward you, dear Aries. You are the warrior, the one who started the fire long ago so that all the animals in the forest might gather and teach each other. Uranus has watched you see that fire through down to the ash but he can't stand to leave you in the dark and without direction. These are months when all lessons return to you like the last lines of poems making their small and steady impact. Mars in Pisces takes to your dream space, which you walk in your waking and sleeping hours looking for answers. It's Sagittarius season, Aries, so here are the words of a wise Sagittarius poet, "there is no place / that does not see you. You must change your life."
It's been a long year and you're on the other side now. Goddess bless. Now that I know you've made it safely to shore where you belong, dear warm-blooded animal, it's time for us to consider what the other side is. Ah, you might say, "I was in crisis and now I'm in repair." Or, "I was a seeker, and now I am deepening my practice." Or, "For some time now, circumstances were untenable, but I've learned a new approach and gained a sense of steadiness." All of these things and their many iterations fill me with gladness because I am for you and for your liberation. For that reason, it's my duty to remind you that there is no other side. Life, we know, doesn't get better or easier, it's we who have the chance to get better at getting what we need from it. Here, on the shore, with waves behind you, you can take a lungful breath.
When dramatic matters fall away, it's our daily patterns that rise to the surface for inspection. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for people to disappoint you. The key is not expecting less from people. It's learning that your expectations are not a contract. It's admitting that just as you have kept your feelings of hurt or yearning to yourself, so have people in your life kept themselves from you. This is not an indictment but, rather, a request for consideration. Say, "I cannot know what caused this person to act as they did but it's not my job to hold them accountable at the cost of my own wellbeing." Say "It is not my job to sacrifice my time or energy in the hopes that somebody will learn from me and change. I can only hold myself accountable. I can only change myself."
Some things are not so hard to change. You can decide, one morning, that the shoes you've been wearing all year are not really "you," and in their own small way, they don't help you feel like yourself. So, you change them. Now you've got new boots on that let the energy of your whirring head travel all the way down to your feet where the boots are. And under them, the ground feels more accessible somehow, easier to read. You bounce over it and you take big strides. You get to thinking, as is your task, about all the other things that just don't fit you anymore, all the things, and ways of living, and people too. You can change your teaching philosophy or your whole job. You can move from one apartment to another apartment, get sober, get reiki-certified. Those are big strides, Gemini, and big strides are nothing to sneeze at. Still, you might find that with all those big and little strides you're making, you feel like an old self when what you want is to feel new.
But, feeling new is a short feeling and remaking yourself takes time. Think about it. Why should the person you see yourself becoming from here on in happen instantaneously? Have patience with yourself. Have patience with how long transformation takes, with the two steps forward one step back dance that is the dance of all things difficult. And, I know patience is not a word you like, but I think the new you can make room for it. Who you were up until this year? It took your whole life to become that person. Those boots, that apartment, your new date, the web of habituation stretches over all things the more and more they occur to us. Feeling new can't come from the introduction of new materials or new circumstance. It's got to come up from inside you, a vapor released in the cave that opens a door to the psyche and changes your position on reality.
It's children that teach you how to take care of children, not books, and not your memory of being a child yourself. It's children that offer you lessons in empathy, patience, boundaries, self-love, and emotional regulation. But, it's you that chooses whether to take those lessons to heart or ignore them in the interest of pride or fear of change. Here, I remember a moment when I hurt the feelings of a child I was caring for by being too sarcastic with him too often because I wanted him to change his behavior and I felt like my direct requests were not being met. I'd decided that he didn't know how to listen rather than admit that I didn't know how to ask. My sarcasm was my defense mechanism against my own inability, although I positioned it against him, something I only understood when his mother told me that he'd come to her crying wondering why I didn't like him anymore.
Listen, I'm trying to tell you about boundaries, how they are built, and how they maintained.
You are in the beginning of a two-year journey that will teach you how to be a guardian, both nurturer and a protector, for yourself and for the life you want. There's a thin line between mindful self-protection and fear-based offensive, a line even the most conscious of us cross from time to time in our healing journey. And, you might think that you are a better caregiver than me, Cancer, you might think that you would never use passive aggressive tactics with a child. I hope you're right and if you are, consider this, if not with a child then why with someone you love? And, what is passive aggression but hesitancy to state your needs out loud lest they be diminished or ignored? If people are not given the chance to respond to your needs, they will not have the chance to respond to them. If you diminish your needs for fear that someone else will diminish your needs, you enact a violence on yourself and call that violence control.
You know what I love about Sagittarian people? Their ability to admit when they are fucking up. A Sagittarius loves to have fun, experience extremes, make bold choices, say daring things just to see what mayhem comes from a different point of view. They're kind of their own personal chaos demons and, as chaos demons, are very comfortable with taking a pause right at the center of their actions and saying, "Woo doggies, did I just fuck that up!" In the spirit of the Sun being in Sagittarius, I encourage you to get frightfully honest about what it is that you're up to, my dear lion. Practice recognizing that the way you spend your time is absolutely a reflection of your priorities. If you feel that all your time is slipping away doing work that allows you to ignore your emotional needs / your relationships, or delay your making a commitment to your dream/purpose, then you are prioritizing alienation over integration.
Prideful one, I know it feels like you're doing all you can to get through this, whatever "this" is. The work of integration—of full bodily presence and the grief that comes with—can taxing and terrifying. We learn to dissociate when we're small, because we feel powerless to act and so choose, instead, to protect our spirits. It is good that you have protected your spirit all this time but pushing her deep inside yourself. You have been a good guardian, but your spirit has grown and no longer fits the small hiding space you carved for her. She wants freedom and she knows that you're afraid of what might surface with her, what artifacts she's tended to the dark space of your forgetting. Leo, if you can't be present for her yet then consider being present for your choice not to be. Say, "I am choosing what I fear over what I crave today." Say, "Woo doggies, this is some wacky shame sublimation!" If the world isn't safe enough for your honest self yet, teach yourself to be a world you can be honest with in the meantime.
Sure, your job can be your girlfriend for a while. You can wake up early, excited to see her, and put on your best button up. You can work on putting your best foot forward, stay up late learning new things to share with her, and communicate the ways in which she makes you feel lucky. This is a relationship you don't need to hide, and, why should you? The world loves a productive person, the world loves someone who gives them reasons to keep watching. It's nice to be something, too, to have all the effort count and contribute to the story of how you see yourself. I wish everything we've ever committed ourselves to could feel that way but people are unpredictable. Inspiration, too, can come on heavy but yield mediocre results. You'll stay up all night click-clacking at your keyboard, fueled by muses, and by morning want to erase every last word and utterance.
So, I get it, the retreat and closed door, the need to build a boat when the Tower keeps crumbling. I get it and I think it's a valid choice. Eventually, I know, you'll build your boat and sail it over to another shore where the land is fertile and the people are your people. Maybe, by then, you'll find that you've never been the kind of person who loves towers and you'll build yourself a small house by the river made of sticks and amulets. Maybe, by then, your bitterness will give way to your grief and it will be a hot fire that stokes your sacral flame, a fire that stays hungry long past the working hours. Then your hunger will be your girlfriend and your thirst will be your lover and you will offer them a platter full of black grapes long as fingers and devotion. Maybe, by then. For now, you can have your over-commitment, your grievances and your anger shooting up haphazard sparks. You can have the water cooler flirtations that only scratch the surface of your ocean. You can have it now, but you won't want it for long.
I wish I could you write you a poem instead, or a letter where we talk about daily things like the first frost and bringing all our greens indoors, the clever way that newsprint cleans a pane of glass. These are the kinds of things that women wrote each other long ago so that they could express an abundance of affection when the only feeling in their bones was loss. Remember that one letter where Anna Ahkmatova loved a dark black elderberry the way she loved Marina Tsvetaeva? She made one beauty out of two entities; I'm trying to say that our commitment to witnessing each other is the only thing that bears fruit, that offers up renewable sustenance.
Because Venus is direct again and out of Libra, time speeds up for you this month. There's restless energy here, a desire to recommit yourself to your vision and dedicate your attention to the daily things that keep you afloat. Sagittarius season gives way to Capricorn season, and everyone knows a cardinal sign like Libra thrives under pressure. Get out there, beauty weaver, and get it done. The world can only benefit from the projects you plan to offer it. But, be mindful of your limits. Just because you do well in difficult circumstance doesn't mean you should seek them out. If you're not careful, you might find yourself living a week in a day, every day, and running on reserve energy until you burn yourself out. Put value on your alone time as an opportunity to figure out what your emotional needs are independent of, and not in reaction to, those around you.
You ever have one of those years in the middle? The kind where you barely made it out alive the year before, and you just have this magical sense that the year ahead is going to teach you what it's like to live inside the wealth you've already amassed, how to really feel the abundance of the universe? Would you say that this has been, more or less, one of those years? I'd say so too. In a middle year, it's easy to take your growth for granted. If you're not careful, you wind up stepping into the same old emotional traps just to see how well you'd fare this time around—with all your newfound inner-knowing—and, spoiler alert, you would fare very well.
Middle years are for practice, for loving the new skin that grew over the deep cut and anointing with oils. You know that part where SZA sings she'd be a golden goose for her lover? This is the year you get the goose and the egg, just to hold the circumference, just to feel your beautiful weight. Middle years are for fucking up again, the same exact way you fucked up before, but this time, refusing to let it define your sense of self. Middle years are for spending too much money on the face cream you want because if a friend asked you to buy it for them, you would, so why not be your own generous friend? Let the last month of your middle year be a good month, be soft with yourself, and understanding. More ritual baths, more exercise, and more time to expand the landscape of your fantasies. You thought you were unlimited before? Just wait.
At first, I didn't believe in it. I mean, I believed it was something people joked about or randomly projected onto other people who had real legitimate reasons for feeling under-trained or reticent, but I had no idea how pervasive and real Imposter Syndrome was. In recent months, I've begun to think of it as something that anyone can show symptoms of (however loosely), especially if that someone comes from a marginalized population that has been raised to believe they just don't deserve nice things. In fact, if you find yourself repeating the phrase, "This is why I don't deserve nice things," or worse yet, "I know I'm smart, but I'm not smart enough to do that," consider the power words have. For instance, I once spent a whole year sighing out the claim that "life is a struggle." Well, I had good reason since I'd just lost my father and my partnership and, listen, life was a fucking struggle. But, I wonder how I would have fared if I said something like: "This is the only life I get." I'll never know the difference it would have made for me, but I know that when I say to myself now, I feel my breath return to me.
And, it's true that sometimes when I board a plane, I look out the window and think, Well, I've had a pretty full life, so it's okay if this is it. But, reader, you don't have to be like me and live like the best is behind you! Especially if you're not a Russian Jew and, therefore, a morose species by design. You can be like yourself instead, like you really are and not like you're afraid you'll become if you stand still long enough to be recognized. What I mean is, already accomplished, already brimming with wisdom and possibility, already capable of taking on the next level and growing with it. You deserve nice things, you're smart enough, and you know what else? The parts of you that you want to share with the world, your beautiful brilliant brainy creations, are important and of great value. Happy Birthday!
Make a choice, Witch Sibling, either you need people or you don't. Either you're a machine, or you're a person. Either you can subsist on pre-planned meals and social media data, or your soul craves connection, community, and sensual variety. Examine these choices because they're not equal in their footing. For instance, you can, ostensibly, be human with automaton tendencies but a robot cannot experience empathy. As far as I know, robots are only capable of emotional recognition. Or, you can consciously claim your emotional needs while still ignoring them from time to time. What I'm saying is, within this theoretical duality, one choice is a cage, and the other is just the process by which we learn how to survive.
To choose the cage is to choose against yourself. To choose survival is to choose a continual negotiation with hunger. To choose something beyond survival, you've got to decide that talking about what you need is no longer enough. You've got to believe that you've got credits in the store of life and it's time to see what all they add up to. This might look like staring into the mirror and saying with utter sincerity, "Hello, it's me, the person who loves to be surrounded by dear ones, especially in ritual and celebration. I not only desire, affection, and beholding, but I require these things because I deserve to experience them." It can look like allowing yourself to daydream about a future that feels good to you, rather than penalizing yourself for imagining a world that—if it were made public—might upset those that love you. Capricorn, this December, give yourself permission to not only yearn for something else but to actively claim that something else for yourself. You've earned the right to take a few risks here and there, you've earned the right to lean on to the community you've called in.
Maybe, desire is not the only indicator of being alive. Maybe you are lucky that you have the capacity to grieve. Maybe, the universe has given you a gift, and it's been working on you this whole time. You're not God. You don't know why we get the parents we do, the heartbreaks, and the traumas. You don't know why children die or why some men feel cause to kill wild beasts for sport. What you do know is that every encounter, every knot and thread, changes something. You don't have to believe in fate to know this. You could just study the way the mind works… sorting categories and possibilities, languages and faces, memories and maps. Today you walked a different street because you could, and someone saw your face, and it was clouded. They remembered the clouded face of their mother, and so they called her that night instead of their friend, who was waiting on their call to learn a recipe for gluten-free birthday cake—which they winged, and it came out terribly as most winged GF recipes tend to turn out. This was the cake they were making for their gf who was already thinking of breaking up with them, but when she saw the cake she…. you see? You see?
I'm not saying the path is paved or the outcomes already predictable. In fact, the beauty of our lives is that they're not. Free will is real, and it is powerful, especially when pressed against the limitations we inherit. That you can begin your day thinking only of returning to bed and stumble into an artwork that will change something inside of you utterly and for good. For the most part, all of us know this, we just forget. We regard our days as if they're sentences we're repeating on a blackboard by rote, learning the same lessons over and over until they stick. It's true, that if you write who you believe you are over and over every day, you leave very little space for discovering that you might be someone else entirely. Rest assured, Aquarius, no matter how fixed your ideas are of this world and the people in it, your heart will change eventually and your mind right along with it.
With Neptune and Chiron finally direct, winter could be a reparative time for you, Pisces, a time to close the book of life and set it down, sit by the fire and tell the story in your own words. It could be, but it hasn't been, has it? I think November was a heavy month for you, and I think the way you reflect on it will define how December shapes up. For this reason, it's in your best interest to work your way back to full consciousness, to fight for moments of sobriety amid tempting escape tactics. Examine with a critical eye what this past month has brought up for you in totality. Are there ways in which seemingly singular emotional challenges/crisis mirrored or reified larger patterns in your life? Patterns come from somewhere, Pisces, and they come back around for a reason. There's a nail that sticks the tapestry to the wall, and that nail is you.
What you call in is what comes to you, you know this. So, if you have been experiencing spiritual harm, ask yourself: Is there a reason you call in what harms you? And here, let me be clear and say I do not mean systemic violence, which does not discriminate between conscious and unconscious people—which spreads like a virus and a poison. No, I will never lay the responsibility of systemic violence on the people who survive it. Nor do I mean rape culture. What I'm talking about, for example, is continuously committing your energy to employers that only have their interest in mind and then blaming their selfishness for your lack of creative growth. Or, building relationships on hazardous foundations and then pouring all your time and energy into proving that it doesn't have to crumble. Or, agreeing to let others regard you in ways that allow them to feel comfortable, ways that ultimately cause you to experience dissociation? What about holding onto resentment that corrodes your soft heart? These are forms of self-laceration, even when exercised through acts of devotion, under the auspices of a culture that thrives of our denial of self. This December, imagine a life where you invoke your most powerful, most gentle, and beloved self. What would you offer them when they showed up at your door?