Forwards or Backwards, Take (and Give) Heart

You’re being asked a question this week: do you expand and go forward, or do you cut back, possibly even moving backward? The astrology suggests there are areas of your life where it is desirable to expand in some way — to move forward into opportunities and to give of yourself. In fact, it is actually essential to your personal evolution.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

A dragon kite takes to the skies. Photo by Amanda Painter.

At the same time, that approach will not work with everything. Sometimes restraint is called for, and the astrology points here, too.

Before I explore these themes more, the super-short version of the week’s major aspects is that Mercury, retrograde Venus and Jupiter are all conjunct in late Leo, and the three of them are square Saturn, now direct in Scorpio. If you get off on the details, here are the times for the individual aspects (feel free to skip this bit if it’s not your thing):

Monday at 6:36 am EDT (10:36 UTC), Jupiter in Leo squares Saturn in Scorpio. On Tuesday at 5:47 pm EDT (21:47 UTC), retrograde Venus conjoins Jupiter (the second of three in a series). Venus squares Saturn Wednesday at 11:08 am EDT (15:08 UTC).

Then Mercury gets into the act: Thursday it conjoins Venus (10:25 am EDT / 14:25 UTC) and squares Saturn (4:19 pm EDT / 10:19 UTC). Finally, on Friday, Mercury conjoins Jupiter at 3:08 am EDT (7:08 UTC); about 12 hours later, Mercury ingresses Virgo.

Back to our story: you’re probably aware of two kinds of limits in your life. There are internal limits that actually block you from doing what you’re capable of and what you truly desire most to do. Those are usually psychological and have roots in childhood, but aren’t doing you any favors. One form of this is ‘the inner critic’, which has gotten some attention on Planet Waves recently in relation to Venus retrograde in Virgo (Venus has since backed into Leo) and in Eric’s Astrology for Artists / Art of Living readings.

Then there are the actual, material limits related to managing your life responsibly so that you don’t, say, go deeper into financial debt than what you can handle. Or, less materially but no less tangibly, there are limits to how much emotional pain or emotional investment you’re willing to endure in an intimate sexual relationship — though many of us have learned those limits the hard way, by allowing ourselves to exceed them.

Along those lines, I know someone who is fond of saying, “You only truly have what you share.” I’d like to qualify that statement so that it’s more accurate — and also more reflective of the week’s astrology:

Spiritually, you only truly have what you give; materially, you can only give what you actually have. The thing is, we humans have a funny way of mixing up these two facets of life.

People pile up credit card debt so they can get the latest techno-tainment gadgets, fashion and so on. Yet often relationships become competitions of emotional withholding, and the creative expression of a person’s soul-purpose gets shrugged off as a frivolous waste of time.

Something like a square between Jupiter (with Venus and Mercury riding shotgun) and Saturn can get a little confusing. Jupiter says, “Expand! Go forth! Luxuriate!” Saturn says, “Withdraw. Restrict. Stay within the boundary.”

When these two imperatives are pit against each other within you, it can feel like a battle. More helpful would be to frame it as an exercise in discernment. You get to figure out where you can let loose and where you need to hold the line, in a way that gets you closer to your higher goals. That Jupiter is in Leo and Saturn is in Scorpio might actually help in this regard.

When it comes to things like love, generosity of spirit, your talents and gifts, and compassion, you can pour yourself into the opportunities that present themselves. In fact, you open up space within yourself if you offer these things freely. Your talents do not get stronger (which may translate into more marketable, or at least more fulfilling) if you refuse to share them when you get the chance.

At the same time, you can’t buy all the beautiful, luxurious things you’d like if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Which is not to say you cannot enjoy beautiful things, or find ways to make yourself feel luxurious and cherished within your means (an entire chapter of Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way is devoted to this essential exercise of pampering the inner child/artist in authentic ways without breaking the bank).

It is to say, however, that this week’s astrology emphasizes being able to discern the areas of life where it might be wise to stay the course or even pull back a little, along with the areas of life where you’ll cultivate greater joy if you really go for it and pour yourself out, heart and soul. Go for it.

21 thoughts on “Forwards or Backwards, Take (and Give) Heart

  1. Mary

    My impulses suggest breathing source through areas of constriction as I move into the world. Anyone need help getting free of past restrictions (say divorce) I’m happy to help.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Mary — that’s a wonderful offer to make here. Do you have a particular breathing exercise you prefer, or is it specific to the person and the constriction?

  2. Michael Mayes

    I’m relating to a lot of this right now. Saturn’s in my 4th right now, and yesterday after it went direct I found the perfect place to live in Boulder. Now, backtrack 2 days ago, I get here and get a room in the shittiest motel (although it’s growing on me) in Longmont. As soon as I stepped into the room, I broke down crying because this wasn’t what was planned. See, after my breakup, it was decided we would seek different residences in Boulder.
    Yet, luckily, and due to persistent effort, I found a place yesterday, secured a roommate, and I sign the lease today. Now, here’s the thing. I’ll be paying twice what I payed for my freakin mortgage back home. Yeah, I knew that was coming, being Boulder and all. Still, I had to find the balance between paying a lot more for rent in order to expand and live here, and being fiscally conservative and resourceful enough to not go in over my head. That’s the scary part, because when I’m stepping into the unknown, it always feels to me like I’ll drown. I think that feeling describes my natal Cancer 12th house. I live with, as many people do, what can at times feel like a hopeless sense of being totally adrift, and lost in the world.
    Here’s something; today Mercury makes direct contact with my ascendant, and here I am signing a lease, and exchanging some money.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Mike — sounds like you are riding the astrology very consciously — or, at least, with beautiful synchronicity! Best of luck to you and your ex on your respective dwellings, and in putting down new roots.

  3. Pisces Sun

    In many respects it really comes down to perspective, doesn’t it, what does one value and how? I have found as I grow older, I have come to value more from a place that emanates from my heart, relationships, time spent outdoors, certainly not spending money on items that clutter my home or life. Luxury is a matter of perspective but I have never known an item relating back to you, yet people relate to items. How very strange we all are, misguided too. Whenever I read anything about Saturn I have to read it as a pair with Jupiter because my natal Jupiter and Saturn are conjoined. Len tells me that occurs about once every 20 years…I don’t know how that makes me different from anyone else, and honestly we differ from one another anyway, but I had prided myself on being extra expansive only to learn that no, I am actually pretty restrictive too! So back to luxuriating, when I can get out from under this restrictive, all-consuming project that I am STILL grappling with, I will try to see how a little luxury (my definition is time with family and friend and communing in nature) can fit into my life!

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Pisces Sun: Just out of curiosity (I might be wrong), what would happen if you give yourself the luxury of a little time with friends or nature *first*, then go back to the project you’re grappling with? Any chance the space for resolution to the project might actually present itself faster?

      Since I don’t the project or your role in it, it might very well be that it must come first, as a matter of adult responsibility. But something about your comment made me think about how people always say that just a little time spent meditating each day actually makes the whole day go smoother. In your case, rather than “meditating.” you substitute those other things you mention.

      But, I cannot say for sure from here. 🙂

      1. Pisces Sun

        Amanda re you prescient, or is this exactly as you explained, the take and give of the heart? My adult responsibilities could ill afford for me to pause however my heart and that of my child’s heart beg me to do so. I am so grateful that I did. Having finished spending a couple of hours with my daughter who so needs my time (and you grab a teenagers time any time you can) deserved every moment of it. And honestly, it could cost me, on the work end, big time, but… my discerning mind says, pull back in the project and don’t push out in other ways– you can always cut here and there- or give and take. Again, its a matter of discernment. I think for me, it’s a matter of listening to a different option and then actually weighing the options and not going with one that is a usual one (likely has something to do with one’s south node eh? Saturn rules it for me.

        Now back to the same project I have been on for a couple of years, it’s finally coming to an end, this is the final shin-dig!

        1. Amanda Painter Post author

          Not prescient, Pisces Sun; just listening to the astrology, and to your words here.

          It sounds like you made a wonderful choice spending time with your daughter! est of luck with the project. Sounds like you are in the home stretch!

  4. Carolynkc


    An exercise that has been invaluable to me is to breathe into my head, then still breathing bring my consciousness through my throat (initially felt like there was a blockage) then still breathing and relaxed bring my consciousness to my heart. Still, breathing I say “I am here” “You are here” (Divine Presence) “We are One” Stay with it for a bit. The whole sequence might take 60-90seconds. Repeat when needed. You have the right to take a minute to reflect, even if someone is standing in front of you!.

    I have weaned myself, with my doctor’s encouragement, off meds for anxiety. Very powerful.

  5. Kelly Grace Smith

    To clarify, spiritually you can only share what you possess.

    That is, if you possess self-love, self-acceptance, self-worth, self-respect for your own Self, then you are able to “share” that with others; you are able to provide love, acceptance, respect and value to/for others.

    If you don’t “have” these within you, for you…then what you provide for others comes with the energy of sacrifice; a sacrificing of your energy, rather than a sharing of energy.

    We do a lot of “magical thinking” around this one, especially when being in love or family is involved. And of course, there’s a lot of mischief within religions and belief systems about this.
    However, when Jesus said, “love your neighbor as your Self,” he didn’t mean love others a lot, he meant when you love you well, you are then able to share that love with others/for others with ease. The Buddha expressed the same principle in myriad ways.

    Kelly Grace Smith

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Kelly Grace Smith, thank you for expanding on these ideas. Much appreciated, especially this bit:

      “If you don’t “have” these within you, for you…then what you provide for others comes with the energy of sacrifice; a sacrificing of your energy, rather than a sharing of energy.”

  6. cathryns

    Dear Amanda,
    I was looking @ *exactly* this, this morning b4 I looked @ PW. I find it tremendously heartening to be ‘on time, in place’, in spite of what seems to me to be a lot of pfaffing around, and this is a primary reason I subscribe. Many thanks. and so well put.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      cathryns — sounds like you are intuitively “in the zone”! 🙂 So happy to know you are finding the resonance and a sense of confirmation here at PW, and I’m gratified to be part of that.

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      Holaday: I’m not sure what excites me more: the parts about “beautiful” and “warm” or the parts about “not fussy” and “usable.”

      Can you tell my Sun’s in Taurus? 😉 Practical beauty is often my favorite kind. (And then there are moments when beauty solely for beauty’s sake is just delightful.)

      In any case, I am glad to know this piece has served you (and others) so well. That’s certainly why I’m here offering it.

  7. Barbara

    Hey Amanda………….just wanted to thank you once again for your input…………and for all of your summer photos……transporting…………..the ride has been a bit crazy……………the translation of which…… “EYE OPENING” … the step back………….take care……………..

    1. Amanda Painter Post author

      You are most welcome, Barabara, and thank you! The ride certainly is crazy, but often i na good way once we do get to take that step back.

  8. Barbara

    I agree………….the story keeps unfolding…………………………thank you so much………..(put me in your pocket the next time you visit the water……………..)

  9. Heather

    Hi Amanda and All,

    Wow, what a post, and yes it seems that I have been asked that question sooo many times……I am definitely for expansion and going forward, however, before I do I need to look back to a time at least a good decade and a bit ago. The ideas were there, it was the how that has proved somewhat challenging, ah that’s where the lack of self-esteem was present. Mind you I can still spook myself from time to time.

    Now, it’s what parts can I take with me, and referring to your article ‘ It’s not hubris to play with crayons’ and Eric’s ‘ The Folk Art of Therapy’, there is definitely some momentum there for me.

    This is all rich territory for me, as I can and do understand that ‘ Inner Critic’ so well! My family story has included “Alternatively: What if what you were taught was ‘hubris’ as a child, regarding what you’re capable of creatively, is untrue? What if that idea came from a long line of people who were not encouraged to try, to experiment, to play, to make (or who were actively discouraged or punished), and who therefore turned their pain in on themselves — and onto successive generations? Yep, Chiron conjunct my sun in Capricorn, however, it’s the archetypal energy that really gets my attention – the Rebel.

    Libra stellium, Fire Grand Trine, Saturn T. Square eased by Taurus Moon, Uranus T. Square, Neptune Talent trine, and I have experienced it in the detriment of all that human nature may care to project. That early experience of ‘hubris’ was massive, and hard, hard lessons.

    Yep know this so well, and the work commenced a few months post my Mother passing over in 2002. I had a wonderful psychotherapist, who also suggested that this be part of my career path, commenced and then found myself not able to get back full time into a paid workforce position to sustain myself or pay for my private study.

    The personal emotional investment that is required of me is enormous, it’s my life’s work and it requires me to be comfortable with my vulnerability, as I too will be working with other’s emotional roller coasters, that requires you to be strong in every sense of the word, to have appropriate boundaries, as well as a safe workplace and healthy referrals coming along and networking in that domain.

    In the meantime, I need to start putting fingers to keyboard and write that book which is overdue, along with re-writing a scoping document and the relevant business plans etc.

    If I had known what lay ahead in the next decade, no I would not have made a conscious choice, however, the god’s will have their way, and it took some time to realise that I am indeed blessed and protected, therefore I go forward with faith and trust.

    That’s what I will be giving back to this world, and that is what I find myself doing in real time with another this year, mentoring her back to herself and reclaiming her life. That is the work that I have been doing unconsciously, and because I could not see the ‘value’ of these skills, it eluded me for so long.

    A wounded healer indeed, who will now practise folk art therapy, along with finding a way to complete my psychology studies. In addition, I will be starting a course to work with a new Certificate in Young People’s Mental Health and Technology, put together by Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg.

    It has been suggested that this is already teaching me what I already know, however, that’s my insurance policy in these times, as they are.

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