b2ap3_thumbnail_Hamlet-with-skull-of-Yorick.jpgThou know'st 'tis common;
all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.”

We come to this New Moon in Scorpio still within the tide of Samhain, All Hallows, Day of the Dead. There’s a reason all those holidays happen around the middle degrees of Scorpio — there is truly a thinning of the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead at this time of year (and don’t let anyone tell you the veil isn’t there at all — if it wasn’t, we’d all be dead).

Do you honor your ancestors as part of your spiritual practice? If not, this would be a good time to start. The New Moon in Scorpio always brings us to a time of introspection, a time to face our deepest needs and fears, commune with our beloved dead, and welcome deeply transformative experiences. I’ll tell you an experience I had with an African ancestral ritual a little later in this post, and why I think working with our ancestors is important. Meanwhile, back to the astrology…

This New Moon is an “anything can happen and probably will” kind of chart, with a yod — the so-called “Finger of God” aspect -- pointing to Uranus, the planet of change, always ready to roll, especially in Mars’ sign of Aries. A spot of revolution might be in order, both in our lives and on the wider stage. It also suggests a real need to stay flexible and open to change. Instead of resisting, when you are faced with inevitable change figure out how you can make the best of it. And if you can anticipate the need for change and begin working towards it, you'll be in a better place to handle the inevitable surprises Uranus brings.

The supportive sextiles that are also part of that aspect suggest that the revolutions that succeed will be carefully thought out, practical, and have some secretive, powerful backing. This could be anything from a parent quietly coaching their teenager through the process of ameliorating a difficult situation at school, to Anonymous revealing information that assists a social revolution, to major political power plays.

Venus is strong in its own sign of Libra, and the aspects suggest that relationships can be solidified and careful diplomacy will pay off this month. Jupiter is supporting the Sun-Moon-Mercury conjunction, and helps us envision and map out solutions that lead to transformation. This is a good month to do any kind of transformative or manifesting magical workings — with a couple of caveats. Don’t get mired in dogma, and make sure you stay well-grounded.

“Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind.”

This year, the chart of the New Moon also features a powerful aspect that will be in effect for most of next year — Saturn square Neptune. It’s an aspect that can hit you hard if you don’t play your cards right, but will safely show you the way to your wildest dreams if you do. You’ll feel it particularly strongly if you have planets in the early/middle sector of any of mutable signs, but its effects will be felt by everyone, to varying degree.

In the USA, Aquarius is rising in the chart cast for Washington, DC, and Saturn is standing right at the Midheaven, which leads me to think there will be a lot of “who’s really in charge here?” questions being asked. And the answer to that, with Saturn square Neptune intercepted in the first house, is “the people, if they can make themselves heard”. Aye, there’s the rub.

Did you read about how Ben Carson’s lies and deceptions are all being exposed, and his reputation is crumbling? That’s one good example of what can happen under Saturn square Neptune, which is currently hitting Carson’s natal Mercury (planet of communication) and Nodal axis (a point of connection with the public).

To figure our how we can best use these energies ourselves, consider the signs these planets are in, Sagittarius and Pisces. Jupiter rules both signs, and, like their ruling planet, both signs seek expansion and growth. Sagittarius likes to expand into the world of philosophy, ideas and adventure, Pisces into the world of spirit, imagination and glamour. None of this makes Saturn happy.

Saturn likes strength, foundations, boundaries. Saturn requires authority and control, and also thinks fear is useful, since it keeps us out of trouble. But manifesting Saturn’s energy in a healthy, balanced way seems to be near-impossible for many if not most of us, and Saturn in Sagittarius often shows up as dogma, and fear-based ideas, philosophy and religion. Not to mention conservative, authoritarian politics and laws. Saturn’s penchant for fear, expanded by Sagittarius, can encourage the spread of rigid, controlling ideologies that blind us to truth and reality.

On the positive side, Saturn can help us find the discipline to do our spiritual work, and manifest our Neptunian ideals and visions — if we are careful not to be swept away in Neptune’s tides.

“…what dreams may come…”

Neptune stands…well, no, let’s stop right there. Because Neptune doesn’t stand. Neptune flows, swirls, surges and creeps, but it won’t stand, much less stand still. Neptune reflects our deepest emotions; it is the gentle rain that waters in the seeds of our dreams. But it can also reflect a raging ocean, a blinding fog, a destructive tsunami. Major aspects with Neptune can manifest those things quite literally, or they show up in human psychology and interactions — tsunamis of emotion, fogs of deception. But also dreams of what can be, what is possible. Right now, Neptune is at super-strength, because it is in the sign it rules, Pisces, and it’s hard at work dissolving all of Saturn’s carefully-built structures.

Saturn’s and Neptune’s challenging interaction means we need to be looking very carefully at the structures in our lives. This is a great opportunity to get rid of the ones that are keeping us from connecting with others, with the collective, the ones that are keeping us from living the life of our dreams. But while you may want to take down the scaffolding, if you look down and see floodwaters dissolving the base of a support beam, you’ll need to do something fast.

Addiction and mental health issues are examples of Neptune’s floodwaters that might be dissolving support beams in our lives or the lives of those around us. I’ve seen a number of recent articles about addiction problems, including one very earnest piece in the New York Times about increasing heroin addiction problems among middle-to-upper-class white people (gasp!). (Don’t they remember “Mother’s Little Helper”? This is nothing new. It’s just that it’s as easy to get heroin as it is to get prescription narcotics these days - maybe easier. Because, you know, the War on Drugs has been so successful — in ruining lives. My guess is that this Saturn-Neptune square will herald the final battles of that war, and its conclusion within 7 years.)

Consider how you manage stress and problems in your life, because escaping from Saturn’s hard realities is what Neptune does best. It’s not that you can’t or shouldn’t have an escape valve. It’s a question of whether or not what you are doing undermines the foundations of your life, or helps you dismantle the scaffolding that is no longer needed. Look to your dreams for inspiration, not to escape Saturn’s realities.

And do be sure to honor your dreams, cultivate inspiration, connect with Spirit during this time. Saturn can build things, but it’s not great at the visioning part. That’s Neptune’s realm, and if you don’t have a vision to work towards and a strong connection with Spirit, you’ll likely find this to be a discouraging time.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

This is another reason why connecting with your ancestors is a good idea right now — they can help you clarify your vision and maintain your connection with Spirit. I know a lot of people have resistance to working with their ancestors — I did. And though I had set up and been maintaining an ancestor altar since the early years of this century, it wasn’t until 2007 — a year and a half after my father died — that the connection really kicked in for me during an ancestral ritual that was part of a 2-year program I was in with Malidoma Some, an elder of the Dagara tribe of Burkina Faso.

Our group had come together several days in advance to prepare for an all-night vigil to honor and connect with our ancestors. That vigil was outdoors, and the temperatures were in the low 20s. The items we had carefully prepared to represent our ancestors were put on one side of a line of ash, and we were warned that, once the gate had been opened between the worlds, we must not put so much as a toe over that line, or we risked death — literal, physical death. The stories Malidoma told were enough to make us all take that warning very seriously. But we were encouraged to come up to that line at least a few times during the night to sit and commune with our ancestors.

Unexpectedly, it was not my father who came to me that night. It was my mother, who had died back in 1975. Unlike at my father’s death, when my mother died I was young and untrained, and so unable to help her cross over. Our interaction that night was deeply emotional and loving, and left me both shattered and healed.

About a week later, I was sitting at my computer when I felt someone tap me on the shoulder and say “Google me”. A moment’s concentration brought my mother into focus, and she repeated the phrase. Mom had been a singer in the 30s and 40s. Not famous by any means, but I had scads of old newspaper clippings about her and some records of her singing — she had had her glory days. It would never have occurred to me to Google her, but I put her maiden name into the search box, and discovered that there was a film clip of her singing — but not onstage. It was what I would call a music video (and here I thought my generation had invented them) that was part of a compilation on a DVD of film clips from that era.

Needless to say, I had the DVD in my hands within days, and I laughed and cried as I watched it again and again. The song was “I’m Just Wild About Harry” and I got to see my 26-year-old mother, always a bit of a comedian, vamping and singing and mugging for the camera in a skit that was actually pretty funny. It was marvelous, and healed some grief in me I hadn’t even known was there. And it wasn’t just because of the DVD. It was the message that had led me to the DVD. I knew now my mother was still connected with me, and looking out for me.

“There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.”

For Malidoma’s tribe, the connection with the ancestors is the primary, and usually the sole connection with the spirit world. They believe that people, once they die, understand the mistakes they made in their lives. But healing can only come from the living, and our ancestors support and help us to bring healing to the whole bloodline — but only if we recognize them, and give them their due respect and a place in our lives. Even if you don’t want to interact with ancestors you knew in life you have plenty of other ancestors you can honor and connect with, and you’ll find that the connection will strengthen you. Look to your own spiritual tradition to discover how that might be done, or just set up a small altar to them, and leave simple offerings -- I use water, a candle, incense and ash (from a clean wood fire).

So, I got a bit far away from astrology there, but I hope you found the information useful. If you'd like to get my weekly updates on the astrological "weather" sign up for my mailing list, here. You'll also get my guide to Planning Your Day With The Moon.

(Oh, and in case you hadn't realized it already, all the quotes in here are from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Photo is of Lawrence Olivier in the lead role.)