Things We Notice, Even When it’s Hard to See

Dear Friend and Reader:

As we continue to move through the current ‘wait and see’ astrology related to planets aspecting Neptune, the news offered at least a couple of stories this week worth touching on. One is Hurricane Dorian; the other is a new development in the summer-long protests in Hong Kong (Brexit-related news will have to wait for another essay).

Sun shining over Hurricane Dorian in a photo taken by Garrett Black, a first lieutenant and aerial reconnaissance weather officer in the USAF.

I’m not going to try to figure out if the astrology could have predicted Hurricane Dorian. From what I understand, the astrology of natural disasters is complicated, though it often appears easy to make correlations after the fact.

Yet, related to the ‘time will tell’ theme of this week, it remains to be seen just how difficult the recovery and rebuilding phase will be for the hardest-hit communities. Hurricane Dorian hovered over the Bahamas for about three days — a terrifying length of time to endure such high winds and rain — resulting in thousands of homes destroyed and at least 23 deaths recorded so far there.

Dorian’s sustained wind speed of 185 mph at its initial landfall ties it with the 1935 Labor Day hurricane as the strongest landfalling Atlantic hurricane, as measured by sustained winds (hurricane strength is also measured by barometric pressure). The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, two territories barely recovered from hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, also sustained damage, though to a lesser degree than the Bahamas.

Although everything I’ve read about Venus in opposition to Neptune centers on romantic relationships, I couldn’t help but notice that Dorian continued on its path away from Grand Bahama just as the current Venus-Neptune opposition became exact. Venus can also represent values and material possessions; Neptune can signify loss. Opposite Venus, loss of money and possessions by water is an obvious image, with Jupiter’s square to both indicating increased magnitude.

Particularly in mutable signs, there seems to be something here about the confusion and uncertainty around the drastic alterations this storm has made to the physical reality of those in its path. For example, where the resources to rebuild will come from — a question accompanying any disaster.

The storm — though weakened — is now making its way up the southeastern seaboard of the U.S., so far impacting Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina, with Virginia also preparing for its arrival. Hurricane Dorian’s initial projected impact on the mainland U.S. provided one clear case of Neptunian deception (or attempt at it): what has been dubbed “Sharpiegate.”

One of many social media responses to Trump’s doctored weather map. View more here.

On Sept. 4, Pres. Trump referenced a National Hurricane Center map dated Aug. 29 while talking to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House, following a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian.

That map was already out of date, but that’s the least of it: the map features what looks like a line drawn in with black marker (such as a Sharpie) to indicate that the storm could reach Alabama by Tuesday morning (Sept. 3).

According to reporting by Newsweek, “When a reporter in the Oval office asked whether a Sharpie was used to add the black loop into the corner of Alabama, Trump replied, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.'”

Social media users jumped on the incident, creating the #Sharpiegate hashtag and ridiculing the president for what appears to be yet another attempt to mislead the public — or, at the very least, an example of incompetency.

The National Weather Service confirmed shortly after the president’s original false claim that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts” from Dorian. Yet Trump doubled down, tweeting several maps with lines predicting Dorian’s path extending into Alabama.

“This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages,” Trump tweeted. “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”

Yet forecasts at the time of Trump’s meeting were already clear that Dorian would not get anywhere near Alabama; and the original NHC map, without the black line, is allegedly still available to view online. According to weather analyst Dennis Mersereau, it is a federal crime to knowingly issue a “counterfeit weather forecast” or alter an official government weather forecast. In other words: business as usual in Trump’s Bizarro America.

Just in Case You Forgot About Saturn and Pluto

Have you been tracking the season-long protests in Hong Kong this year? They began with the aim of withdrawing an extradition bill, proposed by the Hong Kong government, which would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan.

To most minds, the bill compromises the autonomy of the region, which has been a concern for many ever since the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong from the jurisdiction of the U.K. to that of mainland China. Over the course of the summer’s protests, activist groups have laid out five key demands over alleged police misconduct, and democratic reform that has stalled out since a string of protests in 2014.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators during the June 9, 2019, protest in Hong Kong. Photo by Hf9631 under CC license.

The demonstrations have often drawn hundreds of thousands of marchers, with the largest numbering at least one million (close to two million by some accounts). Over the summer, riot police have used increasingly violent and invasive tactics.

On Wednesday, Sept. 4, Hong Kong’s leader — Chief Executive Carrie Lam — announced the formal withdrawal of the pivotal bill. Sounds like a positive step, right?

I emailed my Planet Waves colleagues yesterday about this news, since I could not put my finger on how it might relate to the astrology but felt like it must somehow. As in, what might Neptune be obscuring? Who is being deceived? I thought maybe I could see an image of “the people” gathered together like the Virgo planets, in opposition to a big delusion (the government thinking this bill would fly).

Victoria Emory chimed in, writing, “It looks like the corporate Darth Vader conjunction, Chinese style. Square Eris, but the alignment with privilege vs. humanity is the Maximum Density expressing itself, and the protests are the healthy rebellion challenging it.”

The “Darth Vader conjunction”? Ah, yes: Saturn and Pluto — agents of change, authority and power — together in the sign of government and big business. Hong Kong may not be experiencing its Pluto return like the U.S. is (more on that here), but these two planetary heavyweights are manifesting in a wide variety of global upheaval (including the ongoing Brexit debacle in the U.K.).

As New York Times contributor Yi-Zheng Lian explains in this informative opinion piece, it is most likely not “the people” to whom Lam is acquiescing; it is the big business leaders of Hong Kong, and the powers-that-be in Beijing. Lian writes:

Protesters staged a sit-in that shut down the Hong Kong airport for two of its three days in early August.

“Yet it is to a small group of businesspeople — and presumably a very select bunch of those — that Mrs. Lam made ‘a plea to you for your forgiveness.’ But forgiveness for what, from them? For allowing the protesters to close down the airport for a couple of days? For sending a little tremor through the real estate market, still sky-high, which has made developers so very rich for so very long? For knocking some 5,000 points off the Hang Seng Index since May? For hurting the city’s big corporate families?”

It remains to be seen how the next stage of the standoff in Hong Kong will unfold amongst the factions that have developed. There is a “peaceful-rational camp” within the movement and a so-called “courageous-militant” arm. Yet just on Tuesday, a nameless group published a manifesto arguing that both of these branches are going about things the wrong way, and calling for a “low-cost and high-risk effort that would pinpoint its use of violence,” as Lian describes it. Cost, however, can be measured in many ways beyond just monetary.

Either way, it’s clear nobody in Hong Kong is being deceived by Lam. The question for everyone, regardless of geography, appears to be how to proceed when the best course of action is not clear.

Navigating an Impressionistic Sea

Have you ever seen an image of an outrigger canoe? Attached to the main portion of the boat is a smaller hull (without seating) that sets out a ways from the primary hull. These boats were developed by early Austronesian-speaking peoples of the Southeast Asian islands for sea travel; the design — and its offshoots, such as catamarans — continue to be popular. Something about this week’s astrology reminds me of an outrigger canoe.

Mainly, it’s that the Virgo planets opposing Neptune are receiving some stability from Saturn in Capricorn. The relationship from Virgo to Capricorn is a trine between earth signs: a relationship of harmony and support, but not great power.

Team Bradley of Hawaii, the world record holders of Na Wahine O Ke Kai, the prestigious women’s outrigger canoe race. Photo by Johann Meya.

In an outrigger canoe, all the power to move the boat comes from the people in the main hull, paddling. Nobody is paddling in the second hull; it has no seats for people. It’s strictly to help keep the boat balanced and afloat on ocean swells.

The outrigger part of the boat offers stability, but not a guarantee. As we know, the ocean is vast, deep and very, very powerful.

You could say the same about Neptune, particularly in Pisces. It might not be a ‘stormy’ placement. But it can describe a high probability of disorientation. Without landmarks or literal stars visible — such as on a dark, cloudy day — early ocean navigation (pre-compass and sextant) could be incredibly difficult.

When there’s strong Neptune-in-Pisces astrology afoot, conditions are similar. We can lose sight of our landmarks of fact; our usual lighthouse beacons, such as intuition, can seem to bounce off the fog or be consumed by it. As when sailing on the ocean, these are not the conditions for full speed ahead; rather, this is the time to consider all options — in great detail, and in their broadest scope — and to plan for every contingency, knowing that not all of these plans will prove to be the best one to follow when visibility returns.

That said, the metaphor only carries so far. We are not paddling an outrigger canoe in foggy weather, pre-navigational tools. We’re using astrology to glean hints about how to negotiate our relationships, jobs, creativity, emotions, thought processes, and so on. Astrology offers a map of potentials; we are the territory of actualities. Where those intersect, we’re sometimes able to chart a better course that might not have been so obvious otherwise.

As I write this on Wednesday, Venus is in Virgo, exactly opposite Neptune in Pisces. Between Friday and Saturday, Mercury in Virgo squares Jupiter in Sagittarius and opposes Neptune. Between this coming Sunday and Tuesday, the Virgo Sun makes the same aspects. Mars is bringing up the rear in Virgo, but is also moving into a square with Jupiter and opposition to Neptune.

Fire engine abstract; photo by Amanda Painter.

These squares to Jupiter in Sagittarius are all about thinking big, planning long-range, and tapping into the energy needed to get ahead in some way. Yet neither Jupiter nor Neptune are about details. If both planets were camera lenses, the Neptune lens would be smudged, rendering every image something like an impressionistic painting; the Jupiter lens would be strictly wide-angle, offering a terrific panorama but little sense of the ground you’d be walking on if you traversed the scene in the photo.

So while this might not be a time of concrete certainties, why not cook up your dream plan? Envision where you’d like to be in [X] years or months or weeks. Start to chart out possible ways of getting there, and take some initial, easy-to-adjust steps in that direction. Explore all the options — if not in action, then at least on paper. See if you can telescope back and forth between the grand vision and where you’re really at right now; get a sense of what in your immediate environment needs to get organized in preparation.

Check whether your ‘canoe’ (however you choose to interpret that) has any leaks. For example, Mercury opposite Neptune can describe a high level of mental and psychic sensitivity. With so much additional, subtle info coming in, it can be hard to tell which perceptions are accurate.

Taking the leaky canoe metaphor a different way, the Sun square Jupiter suggests that ‘positive’ tendencies generally become more helpful during this aspect; ‘negative’ tendencies can become more problematic. Where do you seem to be focusing your energy, and would you like to make any adjustments?

Throughout the next week, Venus, Mercury, the Sun and Mars are all making trines from Virgo to Saturn (stability, practicality) and Pluto (power, intensity) in Capricorn. In other words, you’re not completely adrift on the high seas. It does, however, look advisable to beware taking on more than you truly can manage. Staying flexible in your point of view is also essential; don’t assume you have all the answers. It is almost certain that you do not. You’ll want to be able to move with new information as it becomes available.

In the meantime, what dreams are you feeling a push to express, pursue or implement? What (or who) in your life is firing up your imagination? Where and how can you enjoy or contribute to making some art and music? What feels creative and beautiful and inspiring — or, to borrow from a favorite e. e. cummings poem, “everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes”?

People, ‘facts’ and circumstances may not be all they seem to be right now. Your mind’s preference for rationality, logic and certainty might feel at a loss presently. But your spirit likely knows these seas quite well.

Yours & truly,

Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 (#1259) | By Amy Elliott

Aries (March 20-April 19) — What you experience day to day can add up over time. If you study or practice something a little each day, you would probably improve more quickly than if you did it sporadically. If you have frequent moments of enjoyment, these contribute to your overall wellbeing. Likewise, if you consistently encounter a particular source of stress, however small, that can accumulate until it becomes a problem in need of addressing. Consider the patterns of your daily life; notice how you feel about them; and if there’s anything you need to change, now’s your opportunity.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — In our present environment, the concept of risk has altered almost beyond recognition. Many people are happily laying open details of their lives on social media, while being afraid to open up about what they really think, feel and want. Over the next few days, you may benefit from taking up an opportunity that might feel a little risky. I’m not suggesting you abseil down the Grand Canyon. This is more along the lines of talking frankly to someone, going to an unfamiliar place, or considering an idea that may seem out of bounds. Think of it as an experiment, and be bold.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Are you content in your present home? You may find you’re getting a sense of wanderlust, or a desire to move location. Even if you think that would be difficult as you’re currently placed, try tracing your feelings to their source, if only to understand what’s behind them. It’s possible a few small alterations are all that’s necessary to refresh you, or that going to one or two new places could satisfy your desire to explore. Then again, you might need to consider more significant changes. Be honest with yourself, and hold space for your wishes and ideas.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Your intuition can generally be trusted to lead you right when it comes to interacting with and making sense of your fellow humans. Just be aware that everyone has days when interference from your mind or body can tamper with the signal, and it’s useful to have a backup plan. Also, it’s worth considering that others around you may be operating on a different wavelength, though if all parties are looking to communicate openly and honestly, they will eventually reach an understanding. By contrast, if someone has a hidden agenda, that’s far less likely to happen.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — What do you expect of yourself, and are those expectations appropriate and fair? These are questions you may need to ask this week. Notice the difference between pursuing dreams and aspirations, on the one hand, and on the other pushing yourself harder than what is reasonable. In order to make progress, you don’t have to work 100 hours a week, or take on roles for which you don’t have the necessary training. Instead, set goals that are practicable, and take into account your physical and mental health. As you do, keep in contact with your body and emotions.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Your sign continues to be in the astrological spotlight this week. You seem to have come a long way in a short time, though in reality you’ve been doing the groundwork for months to years. What’s happening now is almost certainly a culmination of your efforts and persistence. It’s important that you take time to enjoy the fruits of your success, though equally you don’t want to stop there. Personal growth is a lifelong endeavor. So celebrate yourself, and at the same time continue to feed your desires, your curiosity, and your most profound aspirations.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — During the past few weeks you’ve likely encountered old or deep material on more than one occasion. This is probably going to take some working through; as you do that, please remember to be kind to yourself, and to notice how you feel without judging, as much as possible. Keep records, and pay attention to dreams and intuitive signals. These may be a source of creative inspiration for you, as well as indicators of your state of mind. After the Full Moon on the 14th, any tension that may have built up should begin to dissipate.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Currently we all have to work to maintain our understanding of nuance. One allure of certainty is that it’s easy; it requires no striving for resolution, no challenge. Another is it offers something you can cling to for reassurance. However, maintaining an open mind on any subject allows you to learn more, feed your curiosity, and appreciate the subtlety and variety of human life. This, of course, involves being honest with yourself, and admitting when you don’t know something, which is not presently in fashion, though it tends to far better outcomes. Also, where possible, keep the atmosphere friendly.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — When you consider who you want to become, and what you aspire to, whose wishes are you following? If you’re not certain they’re entirely your own, it may be time for a review. Everyone has a unique path, and part of self-actualization is pursuing it regardless of what others think. Only you can know what you’re truly capable of, how you feel, and what you desire most passionately. Only you can determine the nature of your dreams, and set your goals in accord with them. And ultimately, only you can steer along the course of your journey.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — If you’ve been feeling somewhat stuck intellectually or in terms of your aspirations, and are perhaps unsure quite what to do next, this would seem an excellent time to seek and receive inspiration. The process of forming new concepts or aims is usually helped immensely by fresh stimuli — such as variety in people, places or experiences. Make a point of learning or doing something new as often as you can, as a way of keeping yourself awake. Persist even if you think you’re not getting far, because you’ll probably be moving a lot quicker than you realize.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You’re likely processing a lot of internal material at present, so be sure to take as much time and space as you need. Go easy on yourself as far as possible. Your astrology suggests this is not necessarily a project you need to undergo alone. If you feel the need to reach out to someone, it could help you communicate emotions that might otherwise remain hidden. Also, don’t hesitate to focus the power of your analytical mind. Though logic can’t explain everything, it can certainly prove a useful tool in examining the source of feelings and ideas.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Relationships of any sort are sustained by trust. If you’re confused about where a partner is coming from, there are a number of methods of gaining illumination. One is to ask them outright what you want to know. Another is to give the benefit of the doubt, at least until the current oppositions to Neptune have passed. Practicing clarity, openness and truth in your own communications is almost always helpful. Honesty is like a bright light that disperses fog, regardless of who shines it; and once seen, others will likely find it easier to reflect back to you.

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