Mercury retrograde in the sign of Virgo is especially important for me personally, as I have Gemini rising, a Virgo stellium, and a Mercury that Rob Hand jokingly told me scores a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10. As Mercury stationed retrograde at 11° Virgo this month, I found myself sitting at a public show with psychic medium Cindy Kaza. (By the way, stationing retrograde means that the planet, from our perspective, is standing still, emphasizing both its lack of speed and its degree position.) Her skills proved to be formidable, and many folks in the audience were overcome with emotion at the accuracy of detail she provided as she communicated with the “other side” to bring messages from departed loved ones.
Before the event started, I had a feeling I’d get called, and I also had an idea who might show up. My intuition was right on both counts. As I reflected on the messages passed on after the event and the timing of Mercury’s station, I was reminded of the psychopomp dynamic of Mercury. In mythology, Mercury is the one god with the ability to travel back and forth to the underworld, relaying messages between the worlds. We sometimes forget this dynamic of Mercury, instead thinking first of communication dynamics, language, and duality as classic Mercury signatures. Which are all right on. But Mercury is also associated with omens, signs, and these kinds of messages from beyond the veil.
With his Mars squaring her Pluto, it’s no wonder that there were fireworks of the explosive kind on the set of Mad Max between Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. They reportedly found it difficult to work together, although they blame the harsh filming environment for at least some of the challenges.
Mars-Pluto aspects can be dramatic, intense, and dangerous - the perfect energy to fuel the lead actors in this kind of high-octane action film. Pluto relates to the destructive forces of nature, so it’s no surprise that with such a dramatic aspect triggered between them, nature – in this case the unforgiving desert – showed up as a major presence in the film.
Hardy’s Venus in Leo is square Theron’s Mars in Taurus. A Venus-Mars square in a relationship chart can often signal the kind of sparks that keep things charged in a good way - behind closed doors. And that smoldering tension showed up onscreen too. But the astrological signs here are telling. His attention-seeking Venus probably felt blocked by and frustrated with the stubborn side of her Mars. And ultimately her will probably dominated the show, with her Leo Sun taking center stage to his naturally more humble Virgo Sun. Although I’m sure he had plenty of criticism about her...
Still, there seems to have been a certain amount of respect and admiration between them. At the end of filming, Hardy left Theron a note that read, “You are an absolute nightmare, but you are also fucking awesome. I’ll kind of miss you.” There’s of course a jab there, with the words “kind of,” and yet, their synastry suggests the sentiment is honest, if complicated. There are many positive, close contacts between planets in their relationship chart. His Sun in Virgo trines her Mars and sextiles her Saturn, his Venus trines her Jupiter, his Mars in Cancer sextiles her Venus in Virgo, and her Venus sextiles his Uranus in Scorpio.
Source: Actors Who Could Barely Look At Their Co-Stars by Nicki Swift
As we approach the last of three direct squares between Saturn and Neptune this month, let’s take a look at the chart of Elia Kazan, whose natal Saturn-Neptune square infuses his brilliant and influential work. Born with Saturn in Aries square Neptune in Cancer, Kazan directed On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire and Gentleman’s Agreement, and wrote four best-selling novels, among many other achievements. Kazan’s Saturn-Neptune square is dramatically enhanced in his chart as part of a Grand Cross formed between Saturn, Venus, Neptune and Uranus. He once described his mission as “to make poetry out of the common things in life.”
On the Waterfront was released on July 28, 1954, with transiting Neptune opposing his natal Saturn, triggering his Saturn-Neptune square (and Grand Cross – see chart). The film is permeated with Saturn-Neptune themes of disillusionment, sacrifice and redemption, so it makes for a great study of the archetypes. Let’s take a closer look.
With On the Waterfront, Kazan introduced a new kind of stark realism to filmmaking that is especially reflective of his natal Saturn-Neptune square. He revealed a slice of life that hadn’t been seen before – a kind of literal seeing-through (Saturn-Neptune) into a world that had been kept hidden. And it wasn’t just the subject matter that was new. It was also the way of looking. The film’s cinematography was stripped down to bare bones. The locations were not Hollywood sets – they were the real East Coast locations where the events would have transpired. Although this approach is common in films today, it wasn’t then, and Kazan broke new ground (Saturn in Aries), opening doors for future filmmakers to follow suit.
June 12, 2016 was a terribly important day for Omar Mateen, the man who shot and killed 49 people in the Orlando nightclub Pulse. Transits to his birth chart that day reveal extreme pressure to make evolutionary leaps in his personal development. Sadly, he failed miserably to live up to his potential.
Astrology can help us process tragic events like this when they happen. Not because deciphering the meaning of astrological transits will “prove the inevitable” but because transits can show us where the stress points are – the developmental aims present in every moment – and reveal a range of choices and options that are available even under difficult circumstances.
So this isn’t an “I told you so” post using astrology to describe the inevitability of what happened, because I don’t believe this horrific event was inevitable. Instead, I want to look at Mateen’s birth chart as a way to contextualize his mistakes in that tragic moment when he picked up his gun and started shooting, and to think about how he could made different choices.
While I am going to look at the unrealized evolutionary potentials in Mateen’s chart in this article, I can’t do so without remembering the 49 people whose lives were cut short, and the hundreds of others whose lives were forever changed by this tragedy. So I’m holding them in my heart as I write this.
In December 1987, I packed up my car and moved to Boston, mainly because it was the home base for one of my favorite new rock bands, Throwing Muses. That chapter of my life was dark and tumultuous, and the band’s chaotic music resonated with the disjointed angst permeating my own psyche. Flash forward 23 years, and I find myself standing in Powell’s Books in Portland, when I see the lead singer’s name on a new book entitled Rat Girl, a memoir comprised of diary entries written by Kristin Hersh between 1985 and 1986, just before Throwing Muses released their first record. As I began reading the book, I was instantly captivated by nostalgia (but not longing!) for that formative time in both of our lives.
Hersh is a gifted writer, and Rat Girl offers a poetic insider-account of a young woman coming to terms with a self-described “soul sickness.” This was a kind of body–mind–spirit mania that overwhelmed her in the midst of a creative wellspring that included the genesis of one of the most unique and influential independent rock bands of its time and the birth of her first child — all before she had even turned 19.
In more clinical terms, Hersh was facing challenging mental–emotional issues that are hard to pin down with one term because they were given multiple labels by her health care providers over the years: manic depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even schizophrenia.  Her symptoms included manic energy, total exhaustion, suicidal ideation, and near-hallucinatory visions.