Tag Archives: self-awareness

Rosehips in ice; photo by Amanda Painter.

Of Retrogrades and Gratitude

Dear Friend and Reader:

Mercury is stationing retrograde in Pisces on Sunday (early Monday in some time zones), which puts us in its ‘storm’ phase now. That’s the big astro-news you need to be most aware of. Yet perhaps apropos of Mercury’s stationary status — as it hovers seemingly in one place before appearing to reverse direction — I think I need to begin where I was originally planning to end this essay.

This will be my last weekly column for Planet Waves, at least for the foreseeable future. After 10 years of working for this incredible little astrology-website-that-could, and growing in immeasurable ways in the process, it is time for me to seek new adventures.

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Friends, Benefits, and the Leo Full Moon

By Amanda Painter

We’re heading toward a Full Moon on Feb. 9, and Mercury stations retrograde one week later (on Feb. 16). That would be more than enough provocative energy on its own, but there are additional elements of the sky that will be sparking up the weekend.

Disco lion's mane or crystallized moonlight? Photo by Amanda Painter.

Disco lion’s mane or crystallized moonlight? Photo by Amanda Painter.

One of those elements gets cooking tomorrow: Venus enters Aries at 3:02 pm EST (20:02:17 UTC) Feb. 7. Venus in Aries (the sign of Self ruled by Mars) tends to be lusty and assertive, idealistic yet impulsive, charming but sometimes inconsiderate without realizing it.

So remember your empathy, especially if any interpersonal situations get confrontational or intense as the Full Moon builds.

Yet it’s the conjunction of Venus to Chiron and the object Salacia that really focuses the qualities of Venus in Aries. Salacia appears to relate to sexual maturity (particularly the lack thereof) and to the kinds of sexual activity that get people all flustered.

In the U.S. media at least, that seems to be anything taboo or ‘scandalous’. In your personal life, it might mean the same things — or simply your perception that certain facets of your desire and sexual activity could be seen that way. But aren’t those always the hottest fantasies?

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Artificial Intelligence vs. Authentic Intimacy

By Steve Guettermann

The year 2020 may seem to be a lot like 2019, except more intense. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which being few things on the national and world stages get resolved. Our personal New Year resolutions may have the same kind of feel…that is, we try to “re-solve” things we never solved in the first place.

Images of Pluto and Saturn combined (not to scale); photos by NASA.

NASA images of Pluto and Saturn combined (not to scale).

Yet, that luxury, if we can call resolving to not solving any-thing a luxury, is at an end. That end is represented by the astrological and astronomical phenomenon known as the Saturn-Pluto conjunction.

It was exact on Jan. 12, but Saturn and Pluto are sharing the same degree, and their results will continue to unfold. There is a lot of astrological information about it, both as an individual aspect, as well as how it relates to the USA.

We can think of it as the Old Structure (Saturn), being confronted by evolutionary change or expression (Pluto.) In other words, Old vs. New, or Known vs. Unknown. Or we can think of it as an immovable object (Saturn) vs. an irresistible force (Pluto). In a way it represents humankind’s tendency to avoid letting go of the old in the face of disruptive, evolutionary change.

So I’d like to offer an antidote to the intensity. I call it AI — not Artificial Intelligence, but something much stronger: Authentic Intimacy.

I often flatter myself by thinking I’ve come up with a term never before heard or used in the annals of human history. I thought Authentic Intimacy was one, but decided to look it up. Sure enough, it’s been around. It’s not as well known as Artificial Intelligence, but Authentic Intimacy is something some psychologists advocate between couples in order to deepen personal relationships.

And I think that’s great, but I am going to offer Authentic Intimacy in a way it is not normally used: as an antidote to the stress metaphorically represented by the Saturn-Pluto conjunction. This is stress created by life becoming more conflicted. Much of this stress is promulgated by Artificial Intelligence. Paradoxically Artificial Intelligence connects us, but with a connection that can distract us from the larger world of intimacy.

This distraction is like listening only to the Farm Report rather than Satellite News. In a way Artificial Intelligence says, ‘Don’t trust your intuition. Don’t trust your heart. Trust me.’

I am not saying get rid of Artificial Intelligence, but let’s not let Artificial Intelligence get rid of Authentic Intimacy.

The Veil is thin between the everyday world and the unseen World of Magic and Creation. In other words, the Veil is thin between Artificial Intelligence and Authentic Intimacy, but we do face a 24/7 technological onslaught on our attention. It may not intend to, but Artificial Intelligence can keep us from accessing our authentic talents and humanity, as well as a connection with the Earth, and her energies and consciousness. Through those energies and intuitive awareness, we connect with one another and everything else.

There is no wisdom in separation, so maybe in 2020 we can try reconnection instead of resolution. What the Saturn-Pluto conjunction represents can help us do that. We can let go of the old and ring in the new. We can earth-connect and connect with one another in many simple ways.

When we hear Alexa or Siri or any other AI voice, let it serve as a reminder for us to part the Veil and connect with the larger, more powerful world of Authentic Intimacy. We can do this by looking and feeling past the distractions and into the heart of the Planet, then sending love to wherever or whomever it is most needed.

Authentic Intimacy adds love to life force. It helps us enjoy life’s complexity, alleviate life’s complications and grow a new branch on the Evolutionary Tree of Life. I think this opportunity is really what the Saturn-Pluto conjunction represents.

Steve Guettermann is a freelance writer and “teaches” critical thinking at Montana State University. He is currently studying Peruvian shamanism under don Oscar Miro-Quesada, and published an article in the 2016 Planet Waves annual edition, Vision Quest. Steve’s email is migratoryanimal@gmail.com; you can also visit his website.


The Saturn-Pluto conjunction is separating, but still strongly influencing our experience. While this event will happen two or three times in the lives of most people, this particular instance is a moment of convergence and reckoning for the world and for us as individuals.

Eric has completed recording RESPECT, the 2020-2021 Planet Waves annual readings, to cover the momentous astrology of the coming year-plus. You can read more about the project, and order the readings for instant access, here.

Ceres in Aquarius, and a Vesta Quarter Moon

By Amanda Painter

Tomorrow (Friday), Ceres becomes the next planet to leave the Capricorn stellium. It enters Aquarius at 2:59 am EST (7:58:45 UTC), and immediately bumps into the surprises offered by Uranus in Taurus.

Dewi Sri, the Balinese goddess of rice and fertility. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Dewi Sri, the Balinese goddess of rice and fertility, watches over a home in Ubud. Photo by Amanda Painter.

What does Ceres in Aquarius describe? Ceres is the planet of literal food (specifically grain) and feeding, as well as metaphorical forms of nourishment. Aquarius is the sign of groups.

Automatically, we get an image of the social facet of eating: all forms of breaking bread with others, perhaps especially potluck dinners. Things like volunteering at soup kitchens and food banks bring in the humanitarian facet of Aquarius.

Less literally, we can see the theme of socialness itself being nourishing. Our friendships feed our hearts and souls, and at times offer the kind of nurturing that families of origin were not able to provide. Being accepted by a group can feel nourishing (though its shadow side includes peer pressure, social hierarchies and tribalism).

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Photo by Amanda Painter.

Not Your Typical Aquarius New Moon

By Amanda Painter

Tomorrow is the Aquarius New Moon, exact at 4:42 pm EST (21:41:52 UTC). Aquarius is a curious sign, at its best when blending the structuring abilities of Saturn with the liberating impulses of Uranus.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

In that sense, it seems a perfect sign to host the first lunation after the Jan. 10 eclipse: eclipse periods generally feature a process of liberating oneself from some facet of the past, in order to take greater authority in directing the next steps forward.

The slowly separating Saturn-Pluto conjunction underscores these themes, connecting them to long-term processes. Whatever ‘new start’ Friday’s New Moon represents for you should be familiar, perhaps even expected.

Chances are you’ve been involved with some form of drawing something to a close this week, or resolving one phase of a process. Today and the first part of tomorrow still carry that signature.

Yet life is not simply ‘business as usual’ right now, thanks to a couple of factors. The first is that the Aquarius Sun is square Uranus in Taurus, exact today.

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Fire Engine Abstract #4. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Harnessing Those Bright Ideas

By Amanda Painter

How are things shaking out now that we’ve concluded the eclipse period, and Saturn and Pluto have made their famous meeting in Capricorn? True, Saturn-Pluto is still working out, and Pluto is not at all done with Cap yet. But has anything shifted? Do you feel like you’re in recovery? Are you facing a brave (or scary, or shiny, or intimidating) new world?

Fire Engine Abstract #4. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Fire Engine Abstract #4. Photo by Amanda Painter.

It may take a good while yet to see the effects of choices you’ve made in the last two to three weeks. Chances are good, though, that you understand something about your world, and your personal agency in it, in a new way.

Right on cue, Mercury — the planet of intellect — is leaving the Capricorn herd and entering Aquarius at 1:31 pm EST today (18:30:42 UTC). Mercury is strong here, blending the steady persistence of Saturn (traditional ruler of Aquarius) with the intuitive inventiveness of Uranus (modern ruler of Aquarius).

Mercury in Aquarius also tends to be a communicative, friendly placing, likely related to the association Aquarius has with groups. It can be iconoclastic with its ideas, but there’s also a reminder to beware of inflexible thinking once the brainstorm has offered its insights. Aquarius is, after all, a fixed sign, describing the repeated crystallization of new patterns after old ones have been interrupted.

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Capricorn Shore, Dancing Waves: Cancer Full Moon and Eclipse

By Amanda Painter

Today the Moon enters Cancer at 3:43 am EST (8:43:07 UTC) on its way to Friday’s Full Moon and penumbral lunar eclipse. I keep looking at this chart — with the Moon, seemingly by itself, facing off against a host of objects in Capricorn — and all these sea-related catchphrases keep popping into mind. I’ll get to those in a moment.

Light dancing on waves, waves dancing on shore; Higgins Beach, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

Light dancing on waves, waves dancing on shore; Higgins Beach, Maine. Photo by Amanda Painter.

For some orientation: the eclipse peaks on Jan. 10 at 2:10 pm EST (19:09:58 UTC). Eleven minutes later, the Sun-Moon opposition (Full Moon) peaks at 2:21 pm EST (19:21:10 UTC).

Astrologically, the Moon rules Cancer. It is strong there, and emphasizes this water sign’s tendency toward cycles, intuition and sensitivity. Astronomically, the Moon’s movements dictate the tides of our actual oceans.

Meanwhile, in Capricorn (sign of business, government, tradition, leadership) we have: the Sun (conscious self-expression), Mercury (intellect and communication), asteroid Ceres (food, nourishment), Saturn (structure, limits, authority), Pluto (compelled evolution, ‘what is below’), and centaur Chariklo (holding space for another).

Full Moons imply a meeting or confrontation. In the chart for this one, the Moon seemingly floats in the water all by itself, reflecting the light of the Sun, and opposing all those other objects that are aligned on the rocky shore. Among those objects: a Saturn-Pluto conjunction — exact just two days later, on Jan. 12 — that describes much of the upheaval and major change we’re witnessing around us.

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Onward into 2020

By Amanda Painter

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found this to be an especially contemplative transition to a new year. I guess that’s true each time we end a decade, as we assess just how much has changed in those ten years. Yet, in moving from 2019 to 2020, I’m aware of just how much extra gravitas, pressure, awareness and restlessness I’m feeling, and its correlation to the Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn.

Photo by Amanda Painter

Photo by Amanda Painter

Ten or so years ago, roughly corresponding to Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn, marked some highly pivotal events in my life.

Tracing the growth I’ve experienced in this last decade — and contrasting it to the general trajectory of the previous ten years — is offering confirmation that the processes of Pluto, daunting as they are, do offer gifts.

Even so, the lessons of Pluto and Saturn tend to be hard-won.

While the lessons of Jupiter (and even Uranus) can seem to fling the doors of one’s life wide open — simply leaving it up to us to stride through (not always easy, depending on one’s circumstances and baggage) — Saturn and Pluto demand more. They ask us to work for what we want. They insist that we make the difficult choice to undo so much that has always appeared solid, or a given, so that we can build anew in ways that afford us more space for who we’re becoming.

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