Crown of Stars

When several stars align tightly in the night sky, astrologers call it a “crown of stars.” You can tell by the name it’s something good, right? A new Crown of Stars will gather in 2021 on February 11. This particular constellation of stars is made up of the sun, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. What happens? Energy opens and pours forth. Energy for new projects. Energy releasing you where you were blocked or stuck. Yeah, it’s a good thing. I don’t know about you, but my creativity has been super low key for awhile now. Everything I thought would happen, and everything I planned on doing…none of it got done in January.

This is how bad it got. I have several cherished habits: yoga, meditation, daily morning diary, weekly blog post, usually on Monday, and of course, writing the next book in my new series Jane in St. Pete. All these activities were not stopped by Covid, like lots of other things I love to do on a regular basis. I still practice yoga and meditate daily. We all know what our fun is and, for almost everybody, at least some of that has been put on hold. I love my friends, and it wasn’t great when the hugs stopped, but we adapted. We survived.

*Moment of silence for those who have passed.*

My creative life started to unwind, bit by bit, and I let it. I figured I’d see what happened when I ran out of rope. So I didn’t write in my morning journal every day. Al’s retired and we like to chat over coffee. Some days I still journal, but not every day. Next to go was my weekly blog post. That was hard to reconcile. At first I just thought I needed a break, but eventually I figured I was beginning a new phase. And today is the introduction to that, at least for blogging. Once a month is better for me than once a week. This from a woman who blogged every single day for ten years! And once a week for nine years. Yes, in 2021 I will have been blogging 19 years.

Why did I stop? It felt right. What filled the void? Old fashioned email. We came to Florida in mid-December so we got lots of forwarded Christmas cards in January. I’m taking my time, but if you sent me a Christmas card and it made it’s way to Florida, I’ll be emailing you, if I haven’t already. I miss my friends and the holidays were hard in that respect. Al and I invited my dad over and we had a feast. My son called and Dad got to see his new house (new to Dad anyway) and his great-grandchildren. My other son called December 26, but with their Christmas card, they’d enclosed several “real” beautiful Christmas photos, and I let Dad choose one of those.

And for a long time, email and working on the next book, plus Zooming and conference calls with my writing friends to share helpful thoughts on manuscripts in process (I call this “critique” — a hangover from my teaching days) was more than enough. I didn’t worry about the journal or the blog. I didn’t even fret about not opening Facebook all that often. My thought was “something will happen.” I hoped it’d be sooner rather than later, but I just didn’t know when. I let ideas bubble up and pop into oblivion. I didn’t lecture myself about getting back on track. I considered that perhaps just writing the novel was enough.

Then I read my forecast for February on Astrology Zone by the amazing Susan Miller, all about the crown of stars this month, (and in Aries a stellium: three or more transiting planets in tight mathematical degree) I realized what was next for me. I already mentioned it once, but I’ll say it again, because it is stunning in its simplicity: I’ll be blogging once a month now instead of weekly. Oh, and yes, I’m still practicing Canva.

So that’s my news and I hope this month’s Crown of Stars brings lovely new energy your way, too.

Studying the Stars

Last night’s full moon was in Aries. The constellation is an actual place in the sky, so “full moon in Aries” just means that’s where the moon is located in the sky for the next week or so. Full moons are significant scientifically because the moon’s gravitational force is greatest at this time, affecting the ocean tides more than any other time.

The fact that the moon rules the ocean tides amazes me. How can that be? How can the moon pull the ocean waves around? The moon has its own gravity is the short answer. The long answer is like higher math, incomprehensible but also beautiful, at least to me. For a long time, I used science facts about the moon to defend my reading of the stars.

These days, I don’t try to convince anybody that astrology has merit. It’s the same with reading the tarot. I interpret tarot and astrology because divination is in my blood. My great-grandmother read the cards and tea leaves. During the Great Depression, her readings kept her large family fed. That impresses me. Having been a single mom, I know how hard it is to raise a family on a woman’s wage.

The taboo against astrology began with the advent of the One God. Astrology was a pagan tool from ancient times, which is why believers in the One God were schooled not to look to the heavens, not to look to the stars, for answers about the meaning of life, for predictions about what happens next, for a clue about which path to follow. Not looking to the stars seems ironic, because the One God is in heaven, right?

I use tarot and astrology to spark ideas. They’re starting points for me, and they’re about possibilities more than predictions. The more esoteric meanings of a full moon in Aries engages passion, energy and courage. It’s a time to take action, break chains that would hold us back, and savor the freedom and confidence that ensues.

This moon may see a sudden and drastic change in your life. Or maybe not. What I like to do is be ready. Just in case. So far, I’ve not had any sudden or drastic change in my situation, but I will keep you posted if it happens. ūüôā

In general, full moons, and the two weeks after, are times of change. When events reach the fullness of their manifestation. Maybe what this full moon means for me is having the courage to lay some of my private inner practices out here on the page.

Astrology for Writers

IMG_4660July is an active month in the stars this year. There are two retrogrades and two eclipses this month, and they affect everyone, some more than others. If you were born in July you’ll feel these heavenly upheavals the most. I had the good luck to be born in March, but Mars (who rules Aries, my sun sign) has been in retrograde since June and will continue there until August 27, so I am not exactly jumping for joy. Retrogrades, and there’s a double whammy this month, with Mercury retrograding July 26-August 18, tend to slow things down, mess with plans and throw communication glitches, for writers that means your electronic tools may misbehave. So, you know, that’s not perfect for someone (me) with a book releasing on August 15. Or let’s say you have a deadline but your computer crashes. Hope you backed up that manuscript on an external drive.

General advice for retrogrades is to not plan too much, be flexible, and expect the unexpected. So for writers, you don’t want to begin querying agents at this time. The caveat is that if you are already in talks with an agent, or you already started any project, you’re fine. It’s mostly NEW things that might hiccup now.¬†I love retrogrades for revising a manuscript. I get quiet and go into my writing cave and work.¬†However, I am working on a first draft, so my Mercury retrograde revising plan won’t work.

I’m distracted by my book release next month. Before June 26 (when Mars retrograded) I hired a publicist to help with local promotion and (also before June 26) I started conversations with my publisher and their marketing team. I wanted to make sure I got my ducks in a row early, setting things in motion now to roll out on and after August 15. Retrogrades are easier to get through if projects are not brand new and if you have already laid the groundwork. Which I have, so I feel pretty safe as far as my new release goes, with one possible dramatic upheaval due to the eclipses this month.

Two eclipses this month are thrown into the mix. Eclipses average four a year, so two in one month along with two retrogrades (there are also lesser retrogrades but Mars and Mercury are the big ones) is quite unusual.¬†Everybody loves a solar eclipse, when the moon covers the sun and parts of the world go dark in broad daylight. The heavens have one scheduled for July 13 this year. The lunar eclipses are a bit less dramatic, although this month it is a blood moon eclipse. During a lunar eclipse the earth stands between the sun and full moon, making the moon invisible in the sky and, in a blood moon, gradually turning the moon red. We in the USA won’t see the blood moon, although the UK and Africa among other countries in their vicinity will.

Blood moons are very dramatic, and lunar eclipses affect many people, making a mark on their daily lives. Some folk will feel the effect of eclipses up to a week after. Eclipse events tend to be abrupt and out of the blue. The universe conspires to turn your world upside down or, best case scenario, point you in a brand new unexpected direction. Relationships end suddenly. Careers meet turning points. For writers it could be landing a book contract or moving into a new genre. It could also mean being dropped by your publisher. Whatever the change, it will give you a big push forward into the next stage of your life, whether you want to go there or not. Fallout from eclipses happen fast.

Things happen on the global stage, too, but for an individual, so much has to do with your personal astrological chart, because eclipse and retrograde periods have greater or lesser effect depending on exactly where and when you were born (down to the minute) and where the stars in the zodiac were at that time. It’s not that difficult to learn how to chart your own horoscope. I did it, and while it takes a bit of time, it’s vastly intriguing because it’s all about YOU. Typical Aries thinking. “OF course it is all about me!”

To learn more about myself, and my life path, I used The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need¬†by Joanna Woolfolk. There are lots of places online that will cast ¬†your chart (sometimes for free, but I think you pay for what you get.) My favorite astrologer is Susan Miller at Astrology Zone.¬†Today (July 2) she’s still working on her free monthly horoscopes, and that’s because July forecasts are going to be huge.

I’m relieved these eclipses are in July and not in August. I’ll have time to absorb the news they bring by the time my book is released. As for the retrogrades, I just need to be patient and flexible. They’re coming to an end shortly after my book’s release and that is very good news.

 

 

New Year, New Spirit

Happy new year! I went to the bookstore yesterday looking for motivation. I need to move more. I’m not as active as my body likes here in Michigan during the winter months. I found a book (I always find a book) but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for…then I remembered an email I’d received from Cassie Steele about esoteric spiritual practices. Cassie writes for the website Backpack Universe¬†and she sent me a link to an article on on using Tarot to deepen understanding of our life path.

I have been reading Tarot for many years and knew I could use Tarot to unlock the secret of motivating myself to move, but before I even got out the cards, I realized the universe had already taken care of me. I’ll be leaving Michigan for warmer climes later this month, to my new home in Florida, where exercise is effortless because I simply live differently there. I don’t hibernate. I do much more purposeful walking there and I dance more there, too. I eat more healthfully. I engage more with physical life in general. Until then I resolve to do some gentle yoga by the fire every day. Just a couple of asanas listening to “Here Comes The Sun” will work.

I’m a true believer in diving deep into self-awareness. I’ve read about everything in the bookstore on my particular favorites which have led to a greater understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses. I’ve had psychic readings, religiously read Astrology Zone every month, Astrobarry every week, and of course, read Tarot as a guide, and, more lately, a portal to my intuition. I recently did a day of reading other people’s cards in a Facebook group and found I didn’t need to consult any of my (many) Tarot books. I saw the symbolism of each card immediately and intuitively. Several of those I read for connected right away with my take on where their life is at and what they can do to improve it.

I also follow the phases of the moon. Kate Surgery, a psychic who did a reading for me a few years ago, writes a lovely essay on the phases of the moon every so often. We have a super full moon today so I’ll be checking out what Kate has to say about it. Susan at Astrology Zone worried that the full moon would intensify the already wild energies spent on New Year’s Eve. It didn’t happen that way for me. I had a single glass of champagne and was tucked in bed reading well before midnight. Perhaps due to the moon, I was more restless than usual and ended up awake anyway to see in the new year.

If, like me, you’re looking in the bookstore for a quick start kick off to a resolution, you might check out some of these less traveled paths to deepen your connection to body and soul in 2018.

 

Strawberry Moon

Full moons are always about the fullness of life, when something or everything has reached a peak. This full moon is special because it is happening at Solstice, the longest day of the year. Native Americans called this particular moon the Strawberry Moon because it signaled that the fruit had ripened to its fullest flavor.

My life has been pretty full-to-bursting in the last few weeks. Feels like I’ve been on roller skates half the time. Let’s see, bought a house, finished edits on my Christmas novel, designed and ordered promotional material for my series, wrote out the lecture for my workshop coming mid-July, joined Sisters in Crime, signed up for a workshop in police procedure in Wisconsin, revised WIP chapter for critique, started summer walking program…I am replete with this summer moon energy.

Now, it’s time to relax. Now it’s time to release. To let go. To spend some time quietly gathering strength for the work to come. To refill the well. To make strawberry crumble and serve it with vanilla ice cream. Because as much as I want and need to replenish my inner self, I also need to replenish those pantry and fridge shelves with healthy food. Grocery shopping waits for no woman.

I realize I slipped “bought a house” in there … the deal is not yet complete. It’s an awesome step of a lifetime, I’ll say that. Al and I are happy and amazed, and you’ll be hearing a lot about this decision in the weeks and months to come, as the impact is going to change my life in considerable ways. But not for awhile.

Other changes are coming sooner. Smaller but significant ones, like the turn my writing life is taking toward the darker parts of the human heart. I have written six novels loosely classified as “women’s fiction.” I wanted to write about the light. About love. About home and family. It’s what I knew, it’s what I struggled to make real for the first half of my actual (as opposed to fictional) life.

I’ve had a bit of resistance to this turn in my fiction writing toward the darker aspects of the human heart, but only a little. I know I need to follow where my creativity wants to take me. I’m gathering my courage, and my research, for this new direction, this new work-in-progress. Yet another something that is too new, too unfinished, to talk much about. Just to say that when I took one of my characters out of Blue Lake and put her in Detroit I really had no idea what I was in for. But it’s fine.

Character and setting are so aligned in my mind that I soon realized I would not be able to write this book without being honest about Detroit and that means I need to talk about race. Also guns, drugs, and corruption, but race, that’s a scary thing. The thing I resisted writing about the most. Racism is so far from love.

And yet, I am going there. I’m taking my writing, and in fact my life, to places that will require courage. Also knowledge, which is why I’m doing the police academy seminar, but mostly the new things in my life, the things just coming now, will require courage. I have never thought of myself as a particularly courageous person, in fact quite the opposite. I like feeling safe. But to grow into fullness, in writing and in life, I must gather my courage. Also strawberries.