Check Out the Mindful Walker!

Susan DeMark, a friend of mine with a nearly exact opposition of Mercury in Capricorn and Uranus in Cancer, has launched a new Web site called Mindful Walker. I quietly added it to my blogroll about a week ago, but now Susan’s ready to spread the word about her new “baby.”

I think Susan’s timing is perfect. With Pluto about to move into Capricorn, we’ll be taking time to notice and enjoy our surroundings, from Manhattan’s Fred R. French Building to the ‘Gunks of New Paltz, N.Y., to use two examples that are near and dear to Susan’s heart.

Susan has lots of plans for Mindful Walker. She told friends in an e-mail: “I’ll be adding photos within posts, other media and interactivity, Google map links, Google ads, etc… My plan is to expand in Phase 2.0 during the coming year into possibilities like podcasts and/or video. I have different content conceptions that I will build on, like 15-minute walks, “5 Top” this and that, and children’s walks.”

What I’m really excited about, is the section of her Web site called “Mindful Activist,” which she says “will promote various issues and encourage actions people can take (like saving the world from sprawl).” Can you tell that Susan is a community-oriented Aquarian?

Next year, when Jupiter is in Aquarius, Susan plans to introduce Mindful Walker excursions and workshops. Kudos to you, Susan.

Gustav Stickley: Man with a Mission

The word that is best loved in the language of every nation is home, for when a man’s home is born out of his heart and developed through his labor and perfected through his sense of beauty, it is the very cornerstone of his life. — Gustav Stickley

I was recently doing some research on Stickley furniture, which is still manufactured in Manlius, N.Y., outside of Syracuse, and I discovered an interesting blog. It’s called Gustav’s Groupie and it’s at http://gustavsgroupie.blogspot.com

Not everything that furniture maker Adam Wall blogs about has to do with Gustav Stickley, one of the towering figures of the American Arts & Crafts movement. But the fact that Stickley, who was born in 1858 in Osceola, Wis., and died in Syracuse, N.Y. in  1942, is being discussed on the Net in this day and age made me think he might be having a Uranus transit to his Sun.

And indeed he is: He was born on Mar. 9. Right now, he’s not just having Uranus conjunct Sun, he’s also having Jupiter trine natal Sun.

We don’t know what time Stickley was born. Instead of putting his chart on the 90-degree dial, as is traditionally done when no birth time is available, I’m going to take a wild guess and say he was a Capricorn rising. Why? Because his first job was a stone mason, like the protagonist in “Jude the Obscure.” A Cap rising seems appropriate for such a profession and also for his rejection of the fussy fashion of the Victorian age in favor of clean lines and furniture design that showcased the beauty of wood. 

Because Stickley had such a lasting influence on design and architecture with his Mission oak furniture, housing, and his magazine “The Craftsman,” I’m going to put him on the world axis with a 0 degree Cap rising.

Making this assumption and by playing around with Astrodienst’s excellent astrology program, I get a birth time of 2:39 a.m. Regardless of what degree was on the Ascendant when Stickley was born, you can’t miss the powerful kite formation in this chart: http://www.astro.com/cgi/chart.cgi?rs=3;btyp=w2gw;cid=41laaaa19347-s971800598;nhor=188;nho2=188

A kite is a grand trine, but adds a fourth point that sextiles two points in the trine and opposes the third point. In Stickley’s chart, the bottom part of the kite is Uranus at 25 degrees of Taurus. Also in Taurus, though not tight enough to be part of the kite, is a Pluto/Jupiter conjunction in Taurus.

Talk about a craftsman! The Taurus stellium practically guaranteed that he would make money by selling furniture and indeed his first commercial venture appears to have been a cane chair factory not far from Binghamton that he operated with his brothers.

Another stellium — North Node, Sun, Venus, and Neptune — is in Pisces, forming a sextile to the Taurus lineup. This predominance of Pisces planets was no doubt quite inspiring, but it doesn’t always bode well for business ventures. Stickley was a victim of overexpansion and changing tastes. He was ultimately forced to file bankruptcy in 1915, not long after selling his beloved Craftsman Farms in New Jersey, where he planned to establish a boarding school.

Stickley’s Pisces stellium is one part of the grand trine in water signs. The second is Mars at 26 degrees of Scorpio, and the third is Saturn at 21 degrees of Cancer.

What does Stickley’s kite mean in laymen’s terms? It means all these planets are communicating with each other and translating each other’s energies.

If you’re a Stickley fan, why not plan a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y.? The Fenimore Museum there is hosting the show “Gustav Stickley: The Enlightened Home,” which runs from  Apr. 1 to Aug. 10.

Let’s Hear it for Main Street!

Even though we’ve got until 2024, when Pluto leaves Capricorn, to figure out the implications of this important transit, it’s never too early to start. When a friend of mine recently asked me what it was all about, I told her that I thought it would be bad for Wall Street and good for Main Street. Not long after that I was surprised to hear that thestreet.com had started a sister site called mainstreet.com. I took that as a (emphasis on “a”) confirmation of my theory.

What do I mean by Main Street? Let’s start with the place. There aren’t that many great main streets left in the U.S. Beacon, N.Y., where we live most of the time, has a pretty good one, with lots of great red brick buildings from the early 1900s. But except in towns that depend on tourism for a living, main streets have been devastated.

I used to blame the “big-box” stores like Wal-Mart for driving Main Street shops out of business, but that thinking was pretty short-sighted. The real culprits are those who valued low prices at the expense of being able to walk to a store and socialize with their neighbors on Main Street. Now that gas prices are so high, it makes sense for me to walk to the local hardware store instead of driving to Home Depot even if the hammer costs a little more on Main Street.

Another factor is e-commerce, which is hurting brick-and-mortar retailers, on Main Street and at the mall. To cite an example close to home, Debra Adamsons recently converted her antiquarian bookstore  in Beacon solely to an Internet operation. I miss hanging out with Deb at World’s End Books. But I understand that she can make more money on the Web than she can from selling out of a building, no matter how pretty it is. Big-box stores have driven a lot of small bookstores out of business across the country, but I can’t really blame Barnes & Noble for World’s End’s disappearance from Main Street since they don’t stock old books.

The stores that have been able to survive and thrive on Main Street are those that offer personal services — hairdressers, nail salons, and places to exercise like Juliet Harvey’s Beacon Pilates after you’ve hit the restaurants, bars, and coffee houses, which attract tourists from Dia Beacon.

I still think that Pluto in Cap could bring back Main Street. I think this slow-moving transit will generate an interest in history and preservation. For those who love Main Streets as much as I do, check out www.mainstreet.org, an arm of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.