The Twin Mirror

hurricane IrmaIn a year where the world has been spun around, turned upside down, where shock and surprise seem almost constant, Nature has now delivered a mirror for the destructive energies in the collective psyche. Hurricanes north of the equator spin counterclockwise, a direction in many indigenous traditions for the undoing of things, the dissolving of what has been built, the destruction of order.

At times, the insight that comes from astrological reflection can be disturbingly accurate. The specter of multiple fires in the West, and unbreathable air, the record-breaking heat, the twin hurricanes bearing down on highly populated regions of the US, fill us with dread for those whose safety and security will be upended, whose lives may be in danger. These twinned destructive forces parallel the dangerous split in the American political psyche. In the heavens, Saturn has been stationing opposite Mars in the chart for the Declaration of Independence. Mars is both courage and war, while Saturn often brings us face to face with the consequences of our actions, and with fate. President Trump has his Gemini Sun exactly there, conjunct the US Mars, with Moon opposing. This connection to the warlike Mars archetype of the US chart is not unusual in US presidents, but combined with his own powerful and uncontained Mars, conflicts of all kinds have been heightened.

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Living With Family Connections

family chartOriginally published in The Mountain Astrologer magazine. Republished with permission.

Tolstoy once famously said that all happy families are alike, while every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This provides us with clues when we look at family heredity. Gifts tend to repeat in straightforward ways, while difficult patterns twist into varying forms of expression. In this article, I look at a few of these patterns as a way of encouraging reflection on the myriad possibilities that connect us to our family of origin using an astrological context. When doing this kind of work, I pay most attention to similarities in individual horoscopes over generations — resonances shared by members of the same family. These may be house placements, similar aspects, or repeating signs, and will describe an inherited pattern which, once identified, can illuminate family dynamics. In this work, it makes sense to use wider orbs — up to 9° for conjunctions and oppositions, 8° for squares and trines, 5° for sextiles — since they describe a more inclusive connection between a large number of charts. When I venture further into individual compatibilities or entanglements, I look more closely at the charts’ inter-aspects, as one does in traditional synastry.

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The Cloud of Possibilites

Stormy Skiesby Lynn Bell

The world emerging in front of our eyes is one many of us could not have imagined.  When the team at the Oxford English Dictionary chooses “post-truth” for its word of the year, it ripples through the solidity of our world. Our pluralism used to be a cause of celebration. Now it feels slightly dangerous, divisive. As author Michael Lewis recently said, “the world is a far less certain place than our mind is prepared to be in.” Quoting Amos Tversky, he adds “Reality is not a point; it’s a cloud of possibilities.” Our clouds have suddenly shifted into unexpected patterns.

New eras are born when the old certainties die, and the collective imagination goes into overdrive. We seize on new myths that help us deal with uncertainty. Astrologers recognize this as the archetypal influence of Neptune, a planet that generates dreams and possibilities, those motors of collective human behavior. The emotions underlying those visions are also part of Neptune’s influence, vague feelings of longing for a golden age, the desire to be connected to the divine, the collective hysteria of a mob.

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Coming To Meet : Saturn and Mars

frustrated man

Mars and Saturn are a bright portent in the evening sky.  For ancient astrologers this was an ominous pairing of two malefic forces.  The urgency and desire of Mars meets the unbearable constraint, the impassible limits of Saturn. But if we step back and reflect, this may not be such a bad thing. Mars is impulsive and immediate – it speaks to instinct, survival and war. The many eruptions of violence in the collective over recent months have shown what unbridled Mars can look like. Saturn’s blockages may be wearying, yet they may also serve to limit the excesses of Mars.

All energy lies first within the self, and so the real struggle may be between desire and frustration. We have choice about how to navigate limits that come from others, from outside. When we want something that isn’t happening, we may insist and push and insist again until something fractures.  What is broken now could stay that way for a long time.  In the next few weeks, our desires will come up against constraints of time, of discipline, of maturity. There is a before and after this transit that has weight and duration.

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Losing Our Heads - Mars and Uranus

Rousseau La Guerre

So far this summer is all about the red planet run riot, Mars and more Mars. An angry immigrant uses a rented truck as a weapon in a grisly massacre that forever changes a moment of national celebration. Restaurant tablecloths become blood-stained shrouds, covering the corpses of children, wives, husbands, lovers. Grief. Horror. Just a week before, in Dallas, a disgruntled veteran felled police, destabilizing the just reclamations of the African American community, and dangerously heating passions throughout the US. More policemen were targeted and killed this weekend. In Turkey, a military faction launched an attempted coup, leaving many dead. In Orlando in June, a homophobic Muslim American rained death on a gay nightclub. Bombs exploded at Istanbul airport, in central Baghdad, and a favorite cafe in Dacca became a scene of gruesome terror.

We all have Mars somewhere in our charts, with its red-hot urgency, its reactivity. Mars gives us vitality and passion, it enhances raw energy, hones the will. It is only when it functions outside the civilized self, when it overwhelms consciousness and replaces it with hatred or revenge, that Mars unleashes War. Then it leads to destruction, death and loss. The Mars energies in many parts of the world have been unleashed. When this happens, it is very difficult to pull them back – Mars is the fire that keeps burning, the blood that keeps pumping, the bullets flying.

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Lynn Featured on Traci Slatton's Podcast

Lynn was a featured guest on Traci L. Slatton's podcast. Lynn and Traci talk about Lynn's journey to become an astrologer, Saturn in Sagittarius and Mercury retrograde. Enjoy!

Lynn Bell Podcast on T-Squares

Lynn Bell explains how squares in a natal chart represent a person's creative edge in this podcast. She talks about how we get caught in repetitive behavior, and how aspects can function as fault lines and defense mechanisms in the psyche. She reflects on how to integrate and resolves squares by finding the balance point. She also talks about the meaning of the Cardinal T-Square and the movement of Uranus into Aries.

Saturn: Looking Back at 2015 and Moving Forward

Eye of TimeI have always liked looking back on the year, to see what kind of sense it gives as it comes to a close. What shape has it had? What light or shadow has it left in our hearts? Much of our work in astrology touches into the future, and at a time when our sense of the world is shifting under our feet, it is particularly important to understand where we have come from.

People have been shocked by the shootings in San Bernadino, in Paris, in Tunis, by the images of hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring across the boundaries of Europe, some drowning, some dying, still coming. Fear has been strengthened by anti-immigrant rhetoric, by increasing cruelty and violence in the name of religion, and in all of this we see the signature of Saturn in Sagittarius, the sign of borders, faith, and foreignness. Saturn conjures up our fears. We ask: What danger lies outside and what is in ourselves? We question how to stay open, whether we can still hope. 

Saturn squares Neptune through the summer of 2016, and our dreams seem fragile – we wonder if they will make it. We are dreaming about breathing clean air - now and in the future - and hope the documents signed in Paris will come to something. We hope for solid ground under our feet. These agreements feel like a child’s soap bubble: breathe on it, keep it floating, flying longer.  Can the old dreams, the old visions, still shimmer for us, or are they about to fade away?

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The Moon, the Musician, and the Listening Public

by Lynn Bell

This article was first published in the Apr./May 2014 issue of The Mountain Astrologer and is reprinted here with permission.

Frank SinatraThe Sun and the 5th house — the house of its joy — are connected to the making of music, to dance, to pleasure. Music in this sense brings us to life; it enlivens and electrifies. Our feet tap, our bodies move; we may be silly, sexy, inspired. At a concert with thousands, we may roar and dance to frenzy and, with or without the help of mind-altering substances, enter the Dionysian dimension of music carried by Neptune and the other outer planets. Yet, there is another piece to the experience of music, the music that stirs our inner tides for weeks, months, or a lifetime. Some songs are played again and again. Some music is listened to for what it touches in the listener, and in this sense, music is connected to the Moon.

Our moods and feelings all link to the Moon in the birth chart. The Moon makes memories as well. A song that gets everyone up and dancing at a  party, decades after its release, will also have this lunar dimension. As we dance, we remember dancing another time. We remember another self and the feelings of that time. Not long ago, I was at a party in Dali in southwestern China. As the night wore on, we gathered on the rooftop around a musician who began  to play, and as he sang, the others listened and then began to join in. The music wove me into the feelings of the group, even without understanding the words. It strengthened my emotional connection to that place and its people.

Musical memory is one of the last faculties to be extinguished in patients who have lost everything else, and some researchers believe that it works on a unique circuit in the brain. (1) The mind has elements of Mercury, the rational and logical, but is also a lunar terrain of images, dreams, reflections. The Moon helps to connect the work of a performing artist with both the hearts and minds of the listeners and, in this way, may be the key to popularity. It is also a planet of the inner life. So, how does this dual nature of the lunar archetype, the personal and the public, express itself in the charts of musicians?

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Some Thoughts on the Saturn Retrograde Back into Scorpio

by Lynn Bell

Charleston NC Shooting ProtestJune 19, 2015, Paris

Saturn slipped back into Scorpio just a few days ago. You may have felt it in your dreams. The dark, labyrinthine feeling was there for me, even before I’d tracked the planetary shift, signaling a time to go back and give attention to undigested emotions, to psychic free radicals. In the body, Scorpio is connected to eliminating toxins, And Saturn here wakes the residue of past emotions, it reveals the distortions in our perceptions…shows us where we may see the world through a glass darkly. 

In the mirror of the world, a young white man walked into a church, sat with a prayer group for an hour, and then shot nine black members of the congregation. The horror of this event is unspeakable, He literally tried to kill faith. One drug-addled lost young man, writhing with white supremacist fantasies, killed pastors and librarians and youth counsellors. Good people, kind people. We can think of this as a prompting to take note of what in ourselves might rise from the forgotten past, some archaic emotional reflex that is destructive to our faith in ourselves or in others. 

Again, looking at events in the collective, one of the world’s major religious leaders, Pope Francis, has just written: “Earth, our home is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” Wake up, he says. change, take action, or vast suffering will occur.

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2015, A Fiery Year Begins

by Lynn Bell

Je Suis CharlieAs 2015 begins, Paris, and the world with it, has been shocked, torn, and brought together. ‘Je suis Charlie’ is everywhere. It is stretched out at bus stops, on storefronts, handbags, and coats. It is written on the faces of young girls, flashed in neon across the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Yesterday, two million people poured out into the streets, because we could not do otherwise.

Astrologically, 2015 is a year of fire. Just before the New year, Saturn entered Sagittarius, a sign that has much to do with our search for meaning. Sagittarius is expansive, energetic, philosophical; the archer is half animal and half human. As with any sign, there are multiple levels of expression, which range from boundary crossings and crusades to a desire for divine connection. Sagittarius needs to go somewhere. It can be the hunter, the wanderer, the military monk, the one who tells you how to see the world and what it means. The energy of the sign opens us up and sharpens our aim.

With Saturn, it can signify the rigidity of the true believer, a hardening of boundaries and beliefs. When Saturn enters a sign it reveals the limits of an archetype, whether through excess or poverty. In Sagittarius, it pushes us up against our own lack of faith in the future. The way we respond, the virtues we stand behind, will in large part determine what happens next. Along the path of Sunday’s march, one resident hung signs that said Liberté, Liberté, Chérie; Freedom, Beloved Freedom.

The fire of freedom, or fanaticism, runs upon the same trajectory. It is we who choose to hate or love, we who choose how we express our anger, our solidarity, our joy. For a number of years astrologers have been speaking about the Uranus-Pluto squares, a long-term series of aspects that have opened up multiple fractures in our world. While the last of these squares is in March 2015, the influence of this long cycle will last for several more years, at least till 2017. It came into effect as early as 2008, though the first exact square was in 2010. This cycle has its origin point in the 1960s, a time of great social freedoms and conflicts, when a rainbow-hued, multicultural vision of society first emerged. That non-judgmental vision helped bring advances for woman and minorities, for sexual choice and freedom of belief. Now, at the square, we confront a fundamental question: Is openness always a good thing?

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