I got your goat!

Saturn

Pictured above is the planet Saturn, ruler of Capricorn, whose symbol is a goat.

Saturn’s domain includes many things, including our individual authority or inner author.  Saturn reminds us that we are the Chief Decision Makers in charge of our lives!

For more reasons than I can name here, we have given over our goat (our authority) to others – our parents, religious institutions, spouses, bosses, doctors, gurus, coaches, educators, and the media.

Suffice to say, our goat is getting got, a lot!

At least these are the terms in which astrologer Caroline Casey talks about Saturn and it’s incarnation in the form of Capricorn.

As an officiant I see this phenomenon show up strongly when it comes to wedding vows.

What does the ringed planet have to do with wedding vows, you ask?

It’s surprising to me how many people don’t think about the vows they will be making to each other, which essentially form the ground of their marriage.

What happens in ceremony ripples into material reality, as what’s invoked under the alter unfolds into the world over time.

As a modern minister and a bit of a trickster, I rub my hands together with a dubious twinkle in my eyes when I get to decide what other people will promise one another under the alter 😉

But honestly I much prefer when couples write their own vows, and make promises in proportion to their natures and private knowing of each other – staying true to themselves and the spirit of their relationship. It thrills me when they use the opportunity of their ceremony to enhance what is already between them, and invoke that which has direct and personal meaning to them.

I like for them to take it on, and take it seriously!

How can I ever know what happens behind closed doors and get inside the exchanges of love and erotic exploration that happen between them, or the ways they navigate the trials and tensions of their relationship dynamics and dysfunctions…?

Some couples just feel confused and don’t know what to write.  They need help, and that’s great!  That’s when we can put our heads and hearts together and create something magical.  Where my experience can meet their love story and animate and direct it in a good way.

However, some couples just don’t want to think about it, or can’t be bothered.  But it’s not very easy to get behind words that are not your own, or keep promises that are not in resonance with you, or that feel contrived.

I think our world would be very different if we looked within to know ourselves deeply, determined what was best for us personally, questioned our beliefs and conditioning, and insisted on relevance and meaning.

Some of the ways you can recover your inner authority include:

*Do a media fast for a period of time – cutting out (or significantly limiting) all radio, tv, social media, etc.

*Try on ideas the way you would a new outfit. You don’t have to keep it, just be willing to wear it around the house for a day or two.

*Question everything – not in a combative way, but in a way that is grounded in curiosity and wonder. Ask yourself questions like: Is this empirically true? Is there another way I can look at this?

*See how things feel in your body and psyche. When you hear a concept or an idea notice whether you feel fragmented and conflicted, or excited and empowered. Notice if your body goes into contraction or expansion; if you are breathing more deeply or holding your breath. Does it make your mind spin, loop and race, or does it feels relaxing or enlivening…?

Just some things to consider!

I hope that we can all wake up to the ways that we give our thoughts, preferences, and choices away, and break free from influences that obscure our essence and our truest self-expression!  I pray that we can take back our rites and rituals and feed that which is holy in new and life-giving ways!

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Scorpio (rated seX)

I started this blog series a year ago when the sun was last in Scorpio with the theme of Death. I didn’t invoke death to be bleak or morose, but because of the way that it puts us into dynamic relationship with life.

This month I want to come full circle, honor the sign of Scorpio, and close this series, again with the theme of death, only this time with the little death or la petite mort of orgasm, and it’s companions – sex, eroticism, pleasure, arousal, and genital anatomy.

Because, and thank goodness, Scorpio is a deep, provocative, taboo-probing sign, and sex is a complex, layered, often hidden, shamed and marginalized, though endlessly compelling topic.

Like death, sex has a way of stirring us up and putting us into dynamic relationship with our aliveness. Astrologer Caroline Casey says that Scorpio energy, and the 8th house it rules, wants to take everything once sacred that has since been distorted, denigrated and demeaned and restore it back to sacred.

So I have decided to share a few articles, videos and blog posts by sex-perts and educators of erotic intelligence who are unapologetically sex-positive, and unwaveringly clear about the generative, restorative and healing power of sex. They talk about it openly, using science, poetry, and humor, liberating it from the shame and taboo our society has put around it.

This post (and the ones I reference below) may trigger you, or excite you, or they may do both. You might find that you are compelled AND repelled, aroused AND averse, which can feel challenging to navigate, since most of us prefer to have a clear stance on one side of the fence, or the other.

Luckily, Scorpio knows how to be with both/and, and sit in that edgy, complex place, which is the true seat of wholeness. This includes the places where our early conditioning exists alongside of and often conflicts with the full range of our sexual urges and desires, and where any of our personal history of sexual wounding, or religious indoctrination, rubs up against our most natural erotic impulses and inclinations.

So I invite you to check out these resources, ideally in a spirit of open-ended curiosity, contemplation and consideration.

The Intelligence In Our Full Pleasure

Orgasm: The Cure for Hunger in the Western Woman

THE INTERNAL CLITORIS

The Sacred Power Of Your Yoni {Full Body Orgasm, Cervical- & Multiple Orgasm}

The Sex Prayer

The Epidemic of Sexually Unfulfilled Females

Walk Of No Shame

May each of us find increasing freedom, vitality and ecstasy in this most beautiful realm of our Nature, blessing and restoring to sacred that which has been shamed, shadowed and made sinful.

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Libra

Libra’s (and Libra Risings) have a certain magnetic appeal. They are physically attractive and beautiful to look at, or compellingly stylish and well put together. Libra can walk into a room where there is dissonance and disjointedness and quite naturally unify and harmonize the space. They have a deep sense of fairness, equality and justice. Libra’s are relational, cooperative and collaborative. They are great at creating the perfect ambiance, and have an easy sociability that makes you want them at your dinner party.

Libra’s can also be painfully codependent and lose touch with their most basic sense of self as their reference point becomes “the other”. So attuned are they to what others want, that they bend and acquiesce to keep things peaceful and harmonious, and often lose touch with their own needs and preferences.

Sometimes Libra’s decision to yield and accommodate is a conscious one – she knows what she wants, but chooses to defer to others in order to avoid conflict, and keep things even-keeled and harmonious. Other times she is so lost in pleasing and appeasing that she doesn’t even know she wanted something different. The result can be a backlog of resentment and lash-out, for when Libra realizes she wanted something else, she can get retroactively pissed!

A more evolved Libra will take ownership of the way her people-pleasing tendencies colluded with the situation, while a less evolved Libra might stay in blame and resentment, unable to own her inability to express preferences or take a stand for her needs.

Libra’s have an uncanny ability to see all sides of things. This is one of their superpowers, but it can also be their kryptonite.

Seeing from every angle allows them to be great mediators, diplomats and negotiators, since they can stay neutral and maintain equanimity when things heat up or get skewed in any one direction. But because they can see all sides of things, they can hang out in ambivalence, ambiguity and indecision, paralyzed by what feel like impossible choices.

Mainstream astro-knowledge tells us that Libra represents balance, but what most people don’t know is that we’re not born effortlessly embodying our sign’s wisest and most evolved expression, we have to learn it. Often Libra’s growth edge is to become more balanced. In fact, many of my Libra heavy clients (i.e. those with multiple planets in Libra) struggle with significant imbalances, including bi-polar disorder, and intense turmoil about sexual orientation, fluctuating between opposite spectrums until they find healthy middle ground.

In my writings on wholeness, I often talk about the powerful territory of both/and versus either/or. This is a truly Libran consideration, and one of the big poison/medicine arcs of this sign. If Libra can learn to not become polarized in duality but to hold it all equally, she has mastered something quite profound. Then she can choicefully tip the scales in the direction of what is most just, beautiful, equal and peaceful.

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One of my favorite prayers is the Navajo Beauty Way Prayer, a truly Libran invocation. Through the language of beauty it calls us to re-establish balance in our lives and come into harmony with all of creation. It reminds us that we can make our life our art, and our walk through life an act of beauty – a beauty way walk.

One way to honor this sun-sign-cycle would be to recite this prayer for a period of time. But do so with care, because sometimes in order for things to come into real balance, they need to get pretty lopsided first!

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Virgo

“Perfection is self abuse of the highest order.”

This quote is a great illustration of the Virgoian conundrum. Truly, perfection is what motivates this sign. Virgo has high standards of excellence and a high love of high order. Her territory is precision, distillation, discernment and refinement. Both earthy and ethereal, she has a profound sense of sacred symmetry, and carries important and mysterious medicine for the community.

But all too often these impulses and inclinations (and the distorted sense of responsibility that comes with them) cause her to turn in on herself and become self-abusive, especially when whatever project or objective falls short of her own perfectionist ideals. Her attention to detail can manifest as endlessly critical, irrationally fixated, and, when highly stressed, downright obsessive.

Virgo books

I chanced on this image the other day while searching for something on Amazon.com. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, pictured next to The Gifts of Imperfection. I haven’t read either of these books, but their titles represent a good illustration of key Virgoan themes. Hence honoring Virgo might include some dedication to both.

Attending to the organizing and sorting impulse ~ discerning and distilling between what stays and what goes, what is useful and what is not. Deleting Facebook friends you’ve never met, throwing out expired spices from your kitchen, reorganizing your bookshelves or sock drawer, cutting foods out of your diet that make you sick, and tossing toiletries you never use. Then reveling in the beauty and satisfaction that comes when order is present.

Next, the willingness to see the gifts in your perceived imperfections, questioning what perfection even means, and what is compelling you towards it, and acknowledging how your sense of wholeness gets disrupted when your less-than-perfect parts are excluded. Additionally, the willingness to consider the ways that you might actually become more perfect (skilled, masterful, adept) when you explore and experiment, starting right here and now, with wherever it is you are, rather than waiting for some unattainable moment when you finally have your shit fully together.

As mistress of the harvest, Virgo empowers you to use your discernment about which practices and lines of inquiry work for you and which don’t. So take it or leave it, the choice is yours!

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Leo

As an incarnation of the Sun, Leos are bright, warm, shiny, and magnetic, and when they’re around, they can blot out all the other stars in the room.

Leos want to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and applauded. They love to take center stage. But – to paraphrase one of my favorite astrologers – if Leos aren’t channeling their generative juices into some creative endeavor, they’re creating art of another kind. DRAMA!!!

Leos love to have fun, to play, to party it up. Their exuberant zest for life is contagious, and they truly do bring life to the party. But they can also steal your thunder, and pout like a child when the focus isn’t on them.

Here are a few snapshots about some Leo people I know:

One of my best friends has a Leo moon. She has a big, dynamic personality. She’s wildly stylish, and loves to dress up, go out, have fun, and spread joy. She is constantly tortured about her artistry – plagued equally by her desire to create, and her doubt about whether her creations are truly viable. She takes up a lot of energetic space when she’s in a room, but then… she can make you feel like you’re the only person in the room with her.

A Leo Sun I know fully embodies the King archetype. There is a lion-hearted nobility about him, and people are consistently magnetized towards him. He is a natural community leader, energizing all those he meets. Even if he is a bit insensitive regarding the fact that not everyone possesses his kind of effortless magnetism.

Another friend with a Leo moon is ambivalent about shining too bright or taking up too much space. However, she is willing to come into the spotlight when it’s for something noble – to be a vessel in service to something larger – versus standing out for the sake of self-aggrandizement. This is part of the high evolutionary impulse of Leo – to show up as a conduit, not in ego-driven ownership of her energy, gifts or craft, but in service to it, and to those who receive it

Typically, individuals who have a strong leonine influence have to work with their energy – toning it down in some moments, amplifying it in others. They can be alternately touchy and bold – bedazzling us with their charisma and charm, or sulky and sour if the feedback from those around them isn’t lavish enough or the kind they want.

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I want to encourage you to get creative about ways to honor this sun-sign-cycle. But here are a few ideas…

  • Go solar! Implementing and/or investing in solar technology is a wonderful way to honor this Sun-ruled sign.
  • Increase your vitamin D intake – whether by swallowing a capsule or lounging in the sun, invite that vital energy in!
  • Ask to be seen and acknowledged for something you’re longing to be recognized or validated for. Literally ask for it.
  • Join your community theater or local choir, and insist on getting the solo! Take that pottery workshop or swing dance class you’ve been wanting to, or read The Artists Way or Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

…maybe you make a new fashion statement, or decorate your patio with colorful lights and bright fabrics. No matter! The world is your canvas, and the sky’s the limit. So make like a Leo, and go BIG!

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The Marriage of Freedom and Form

I recently did some counseling and coaching work with a client who has very strong Sagittarian and Capricornian influences in her birth chart.

Sagittarius is about freedom, expansion, joviality, open-ended exploration, and generosity, while Capricorn is about boundaries, discipline, seriousness, pragmatism, responsibility, mastery and purpose.

My client was struggling to understand how these two seemingly opposite forces could co-exist inside her.

“It takes great discipline to be a free spirit.”

The author of this quote, Gabrielle Roth, was the founder of a dynamic dance movement practice called 5RHYTHMS that lives right at the intersection of form and freedom. It teaches us to embody the rhythms of life that we see repeated in the world around us.

One of the rhythms, Staccato, is the study of lines, angular movements, no’s, boundaries, differentiation, integrity, verticality, and alignment. As we explore Staccato in the body we learn about the power of form, structure and discipline, and it may also show us the places inside ourselves where we’re overly rigid, linear and uncompromising.

Thankfully, there are other rhythms that are feminine and fluid, circular and curvaceous like Flowing, that help us soften, surrender, yield and flow when we find ourselves being excessively hardened and severe.

Likewise, Flowing can be a place where we drown in nebulousness, inertia, and a lack of direction when we don’t have the accountability, structure and containment that the masculine rhythm of Staccato helps us embody.

By moving through these rhythms and using them as a tool for somatic awareness, we can cultivate a place inside ourselves where the sharp edges of Staccato and the round earthy yin of Flowing can live together in a more balanced and sustainable way.

In my own journey I rebelled against discipline, rules and structure because the orthodoxy of my youth felt so oppressive, stifling and unimaginative to me, but as a result of that rebellion I experienced the opposite, and know first hand that a life devoid of structural integrity can, ironically, be the biggest form of bondage.

“To rebel against something is to be just as much in it’s thrall as to conform.” ~Caroline Casey

Dancing the 5RHYTHMS with regularity and working deeply with the planetary archetypes helped me reconcile the profound usefulness of roots and wings, schedules and spontaneity, expansion and contraction.

May we all cultivate language and practices that allow us to amalgamate seeming opposites, and find the freedom inside the form, the spaciousness inside the structure, and the divine inside the discipline.

***

I’d love to hear about your own journey with freedom and form. Please share your experiences and reflections in the comments section below.

“Freely chosen, discipline is absolute freedom.” ~Ron Serino

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Cancer

The Dalai Lama is a double Cancer.  Can you feel it?  The embodiment of compassion, His Holiness models the essential goodness of this Moon-ruled sign.  Capable of dolloping out unconditional love, and usually some comfort food while they’re at it, Cancers serve from the heart, and nurture us in the ways we need it most.

I have a dear friend who has her Sun in Cancer. She has a designated “womb room” in the basement of her home, and regularly spends time in a womb-like floatation tank. Tracking and tending the lunar rhythms and menstrual mysteries, and sustaining her home and family are what she’s about.  Her natural dedication to the moon, the womb, the hearth and the family is quintessentially Cancerian.

Everything is warm and fuzzy until Cancer’s tending becomes need-denying, long-suffering, moody, and resentful.  Like every sign, this one has a dark side. Think of an overbearing mother who forms her her identity around being a care-giver, and lacks a solid sense of self if not constantly validated and acknowledged for all of her sacrificing and over-extending.

Cancer’s are highly sensitive to the ebb and flow of life, and have a particular attunement to suffering. This can be really painful, so they often hide out or build up crab-like armor to protect themselves from feeling too vulnerable and exposed. If you’ve ever been in an intimate relationship with a Cancer you know that it can feel like you’re negotiating emotional land-mine territory in which sensitivities abound, and you can set off their triggers left and right without even knowing it.

The idea is to find a sweet spot between sensitivity and shut-down, between giving generously and guilting, between extending and exploding in resentment.

***

Cancer, and the 4th house it rules, address themes of family, lineage, ancestry, and roots. One way you might honor this sun-sign-cycle is to do some genealogical mapping or family tree type of project.  You might record facts about your family history, collect stories and anecdotes from aging relatives, or get curious about your religious and cultural heritage.

Here’s a little story about my own family…

My maternal grandfather was a chazan (cantor).  After immigrating to the United States from Poland, he was hired to travel to synagogues around the east coast and operatically chant the Hebrew liturgy, especially during the High Holy Holidays.  I recently learned that he was listed as a reverend in the yellow pages.  It touched me to discover this overlap between us, even though our outward expression of reverence has manifested quite differently.

One of my Cancerian brothers is a professional chazan who is carrying on the linage in a way that is more traditional, much like the way our grandfather did it. My mother on the other hand can’t sing to save her life.  I think they say it skips a generation…  I remember my youngest brother – also a Cancer – at the age of three covering his ears when my mom would sing to him!

I share this with you in the hopes that it will inspire you to collect your own family stories and anecdotes, and I invite you to share one of them in the comments section below.

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The Landscape of Compassionate Liberation

How often have you heard yourself say “one part of me feels this way, and another part of me feels that way”? How often have you felt deeply conflicted, or that you’re of two minds about something? Sometimes we feel even more divided than that, sometimes we feel downright polarized, split or fragmented.

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The Parts-Work I facilitate is a fluid synthesis of Internal Family Systems, Shadow-Work processes, Voice Dialogue, Feeding Your Demons, and shamanic Soul Retrieval.

It is a simple and elegant way of working with the energies or sub-personalities that tug and pull and vie for supremacy within us. Instead of resigning ourselves to our inner discord, or acting out in ways that reflect, reenforce, and recapitulate our internal division, it allows us to:

  • move towards internal harmony, reconciliation, and integration
  • experience the power and transformation that comes with being able to hold seeming opposites and multiple realities simultaneously
  • receive insight and guidance from the unseen realms (what Rumi calls the beyond in his poem The Guest House)
  • retrieve lost parts of ourselves so that we can experience more of our wholeness

This work has the capacity to heal childhood wounds, bridge developmental gaps, resolve painful generational patterns, mitigate chronic and acute physical symptoms, and presence the unconscious in ways that yield palpable shifts in behavior and outcome, energy and physiology.

Sometimes we think that we know what lies just beneath the surface, but what gets revealed through this work often manages to surprise. When we listen with genuine curiosity, and unconditional acceptance, with no agenda but that, amazing things happen.

This process cuts right to the heart of the matter, and has become foundational in my coaching and counseling work with clients because of it’s efficiency and effectiveness.

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The birth chart is a map of the psyche that lays out the internal landscape. It illustrates where there are karmically and genetically inbuilt places of dissonance and resonance, conflict and congruence.

In her book “Making the Gods Work for You”, astrologer Caroline W. Casey writes: “By speaking to the forces that dwell within us, we bring them to life. Neglected or slighted aspects of ourselves awaken from dormancy.” Caroline was referring to the art of astrology readings, but she could just as easily have been talking about Parts-Work.

Astrology and Parts-Work are natural adjuncts because one system lays out the parts (or selves), and the other provides a context for them to express, emote, dialogue and dance.

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Ultimately, I offer all of this work in service to wholeness. When we can stretch ourselves to include everything that’s living within us, we can move from fragmentation into something far richer and more dynamic.

The intersection of both/and is a magical landscape of compassionate liberation.

I give thanks to my teacher in this work, Douglas Brady, M.Ed., a dedicated psychotherapist and healer who was gifted at holding unconditional acceptance for people to access, express, and reclaim parts of themselves that felt scary, shameful and unfamiliar. Douglas called his work The Psychology of Symptoms.

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Gemini

Eminently distractible, fickle and ungrounded, imbalanced Geminis can be all over the place – speedy, spinny, zippy and frenetic. They can be hopelessly noncommittal, and avert, avoid, defer and deflect like the best of ‘em. They epitomize the puers and the archetypal fools of the zodiac. They bore easily, shift gears without warning, and change plans often. They struggle with indecision, and can be of two minds about almost anything. They can be loquacious, wordy, talkative, garrulous and … redundant!

On the flip side, Geminis make great conversationalists and captivated listeners. Articulate, eloquent and deeply curious, they are quick-witted, whimsical, cunning linguists. They’re fun at parties, great at networking and making connections, effective multi-tasters, and magnificent storytellers. Oh, and they have a flair for lightening things up when the mood might otherwise be too heavy.

Sometimes Gemini people catch things on the current of the wind and vocalize them unfiltered.  They can say some really stupid shit, but they can also be keenly preceptive and offer us a spontaneous burst of insight.  So don’t shoot the Mercury ruled messenger!

***

Honor this versatile sun-sign-cycle by becoming re-enchanted with the power of stories. Bite into a juicy best-seller, or return to a book that you loved as a child.  Read The Arabian Nights or The Secret Garden or The Mists of Avalon.  You may even decide to write your own story, or cultivate the high art of oral transmission and story-tell-it to someone in your life! Ask friends and family to share their stories with you too. Your curiosity and interest will surely draw them out and enliven them.

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Celestial Soundbites ~ Sun in Taurus

Taureans are the master space holders of the zodiac. Like buddhas or redwood trees, they can hold steady ground through the most tumultuous and chaotic moments. They make excellent body workers, embodied dancers and sensual lovers, and can create beautiful and sacred spaces. Taureans are deeply incarnate creatures who know how to be fully here on earth.

Until they get stuck…and they do get stuck!

Then it’s inertia, stagnation and painful habituation. Stubborn, sluggish and stifled, oh my! They can be couch potatoes, overly attached to material possessions, married to routine, and utterly risk averse. And they can procrastinate. Like forever.

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There are lots of ways to align with and honor the energy of Taurus.

If you’re feeling a lot of density you might decide to do a gentle cleanse to create some lightness. Think raw, vegan food, green juice and coconut water. The more weightless your food, the lighter you’ll feel.

If you’re feeling stagnation, meet it with movement, it’s opposite. (This will take some discipline and willpower because stagnation doesn’t like to move.)

If you’re feeling airy, anxious and all over the place, Taurus has good medicine for you! Lay down on the earth. Sit with you back against a tree. Get a deep tissue massage. Start an embodiment practice or try somatic psychotherapy.

If you’re feeling balanced then simply revel in the sensual delights and creature comforts Taurus so loves. Wear fabrics and materials that feel amazing on your skin. Fill your house with flowers and music. Make love outdoors. Take time to cuddle, snuggle and hug. Buy a crock pot and do some slow cooking. Or go out for dinner and savor every mouthful of a delicious, decadent dessert.

No matter what you’re feeling, bless this precious mama earth. All of this goodness comes from her. So bless her as if your life depends on it, because it does!

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