The Feb. 9 Eclipse: Everything Seems Possible

I haven’t been blogging as much lately because I’ve been wrapped up in a demanding project that’s keeping me away from Astrology Mundo. I also don’t want to seem like the spoiler for the Obama party.

With Jupiter in Aquarius traveling close to the North Node, there are a lot of good vibes out there. I can feel them in my neighborhood. The Community Organizer-in-Chief is helping folks feel connected and empowered.

Yesterday, my next-door neighbors, whom I’ve known for four years, invited me to a family buffet, and I went. No big deal, I know, but a barrier was broken. A hand was extended across a fence and it was embraced.

There’s been a lot of snow in Upstate New York this winter, and the neighbors on the other side have been shoveling my sidewalk and driveway before I can even get out of the house. People seem to want to help each other these days for the first time in a long time. It truly is a blessing!

That’s the good news — friendly neighbors. The bad news is that today’s eclipse at 21 degrees of Leo opposed the Sun and Neptune. The whole lineup is squaring the New York Stock Exchange incorporation chart, so I’m looking for a further evaporation of U.S. equities over the next six months. I’m not optimistic the stimulus bill, even if it is approved by the Senate, can do much to prevent the economy’s descent.

It wasn’t Obama who got us here, but “we’re waist-deep in the big muddy,” to quote Pete Seeger’s famous anti-war anthem. We’re waist-deep in Iraq and Afghanistan and we’re just keeping our heads above the quicksand of the financial crisis.

I believe that Obama will ultimately be forced to take some drastic steps to get our nation’s economy back on course (cutbacks in the civil service, perhaps), and because of his rock-star persona, people may accept the news with a smile.

When President Jimmy Carter tried to trim the federal workforce about one Saturn revolution ago, he got lots of pushback. It will be interesting to see what happens this time around (assuming I’m right, of course).

And you wonder why I haven’t written lately.

Paul Newman, 1925-2008: Nobody’s Fool


I’m reposting an updated version of something I wrote back in June, when it was first reported that Paul Newman was suffering from cancer. Newman passed away Friday.

Even at the age of 83, Paul Newman was still my favorite bad boy. Unlike James Dean, he stayed alive, and unlike Marlon Brando, he managed to live his life off-screen in an inspiring manner.

He married a class act, Joanne Woodward, and stayed married for 50 years. He started Newman’s Own, the food company that has donated $200 million of its profits to charity, and he funded the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for terminally ill kids. And the race car driving! Talk about living the life you want.

A cool Aquarius born Jan. 26, 1925, Newman had a Capricorn stellium of Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus on his Ascendant. The combo showed up in his childhood — his father owned a successful sporting (Jupiter) goods store (Cap) and in his movies — ones about the legal system (Jupiter) like The Verdict and ones about racing (Mercury) like Winning, which prompted Newman to take up the sport in real life.

The Jupiterian sports theme was also evident in the aptly named Somebody Up There Likes Me (a boxing film that was supposed to star James Dean until he died), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (ex-football player), The Hustler (pool), and Slap Shot (hockey).

Because the Jupiter/Mercury/Venus lineup was in Capricorn, Newman continued to work well after he acquired wrinkles and gray hair, a rarity in youth-dominated Hollywood. And, as commenter GianPaul points out, it’s square Mars in Aries, injecting an element of sexy danger.

The Cap lineup opposed Pluto in Cancer in the seventh house of relationships. Here was a very intense guy who forged lasting alliances with both business and romantic partners.

Given that Cancerian (food) emphasis in the seventh house of partnerships, I get a chuckle when I remember Newman’s response when an interviewer asked why he remained married in spite of the temptations that beckon a superstar actor: “I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?” is what Newman told Playboy magazine.

Underneath the bravado, Newman was sensitive, with a Pisces Moon, which was conjunct Woodward’s Sun. Meanwhile, her Aquarius Moon was on his Sun. They had the classic marriage indicator — Sun/Moon conjunction — going in both directions. In a world where the word “soulmates” gets overused, Newman and Woodward were the real thing.

When I was reading an article about Newman in the September Vanity Fair, I was struck by his description of his relationship with Woodward. “Joanne has a habit of rationalizing [Aquarius], and when she starts that, that’s when I turn ugly! But when she tells me what she instinctively feels [Pisces], I pay very close attention.”

Interesting that the Aquarian gets annoyed when his Aquarius Moon wife starts “rationalizing,” but responds when she expresses her feelings, mirroring his Pisces Moon.

The amazing synastry between Newman and Woodward prompted many astrologers to write journal articles and give conference presentations on Newman and Woodward. (Synastry is astrologese for compatibility.)

Rather than live in the limelight of Tinseltown, Newman and Woodward escaped to small-town America to raise three daughters — Claire, Elinor (Nell), and Melissa. Newman had two daughters — Susan and Stephanie — from a previous marriage, as well as a son, Scott, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 1978. The residents of Westport, Conn., respected the privacy of their town’s biggest celebrities, according to this poignant story from the Associated Press.

Looking at recent transits to Newman’s chart, his natal Neptune in Leo, which squared Saturn in Scorpio, was being opposed by transiting Neptune, North Node, and Chiron in Aquarius during his fight with cancer.

Jupiter in Capricorn was on Newman’s Ascendant when he died. As we students of astrology know, people leaving the earth often have “happy” transits. Saturn and Pluto show up in the charts of the survivors, usually making aspects to the personal planets or the angles.

My French astropal, Claire Courts at AstroRevolution, has a good analysis of the transits to Newman’s chart when he passed away.

Here’s the chart from AstroDataBank.

I’d be hard-pressed to say which Paul Newman film is my favorite. Certainly, not the classic Seventies buddy flicks he did with Robert Redford, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting, though I loved them at the time. Not edgy enough for me. I’ve narrowed it down to Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and The Hustler.

In his later years, I loved the reprise of The Hustler that he did with Tom Cruise, The Color of Money, which won him his sole best actor Oscar.

A special place is reserved for Newman’s collaboration with Woodward in Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, produced by the art film champions Ishmael Merchant and James Ivory. The two play a bourgeois WASP couple from Kansas City who try to keep their marriage on even keel.

I had the pleasure of meeting Newman once at an Indian restaurant that Merchant owned next to the Paris Theatre in New York in the mid-Nineties. Those blue eyes were truly incredible. I’ll never forget them. Ditto for the sly grin when you first spot him across the room, the one that says, “Yeah, it’s me.”

As an old college buddy pointed out when I first posted this riff, Newman was the perfect curmudgeon in the film adaptation of the Richard Russo novel Nobody’s Fool. Filmed in the town where I live, Beacon, N.Y., Fool helped kick-start the revitalization of Main Street after the film studio paid for some refurbishing. Interesting that with this connection between Newman and my hometown, his stellium of Cap planets falls on the cusp of the fourth house, while rules the home.

Millions of children who may not know Newman for his charismatic screen presence probably can recognize his voice. He vivified a Hudson Hornet in Pixar’s Cars. In that animated film, Newman was the voice of Doc Hudson, the mayor in the town of Radiator Springs. Ole Doc has a thing or two to teach whippersnapper Lightning McQueen, whose voice was provided by Owen Wilson.

The slogan for Cool Hand Luke, which was uttered by a prison warden in the film and has since become part of the American lexicon, was: “What we’ve got here is a failure (pronounced “fail-yuh”) to communicate.”

There was never a failure to communicate between Newman and his audiences. Fans got the testosterone-injected message loud and clear. Men wanted to be cool, tough, and later, worldly-wise like him. And women? We all know what women wanted.

Saturn in Virgo: Handmade Nation

Folks, something really big is happening out there. As usual, I’m late to the party and I’m going to wax nostalgic about my Army brat childhood somewhere in this post.

First, kudos to Gastriques, my faithful tipster, who sent me a link a few weeks ago about Etsy, a eBay for handmade crafts. Duly noted, but not yet a trend in my mind. Then, last Thursday, while I was reading The New York Times (which used to benefit from the insight of Gastriques), I noticed an article in the Home section about the modern-day mother of Handmade Nation: a crafty chick called Faythe Levine.

So far, so good. Then I noticed that Jim Kunstler, my guru on the post-oil future, has written a book called World Made by Hand, a novel about an apocalyptic future where we’re not knitting sweaters for fun or to express our creativity. Handmade Nation, World Made by Hand: I sense a trend here.

Today, I stopped on Main Street in Beacon, N.Y., to participate in our “Second Saturday,” where there are always lots of gallery openings and other interesting happenings (as they used to say on Mod Squad. I stopped by Paper Presence to admire the window full of origami cranes, a continuation of the dream of Hiroshima victim Sadako Sasaki, and then stepped into a garage-cum-workshop with saws, hammers, and other tools artistically displayed on the wall.

This was the venue of the Handmade Calvacade of Etsy vendors that rolled into Beacon. The vendors were mostly hipsters from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who had to restrain themselves from rolling their eyes when I asked: “What’s Etsy?” Of course, I knew, but the journalist in me had to play dumb to get information. I bought a couple of really cool tote bags made from embossed Indian burlap sacks and decorated with ribbon and beads.

The Handmade Calvacade seems to be a younger, groovier version of the craft bazaar that is well-known to church ladies and militry wives. I remember in the early Seventies when my Mom complained that the general’s wife at Fort Riley, Kans. was snubbing her because she didn’t knit enough hats for the Officers Wives Club’s Christmas bazaar. Yes, crafty folks can get catty and petty.

What’s driving all this hipster interest in making things by hand? It’s definitely Saturn in Virgo, which is fueling an appreciation for craftsmanship. But I believe this trend is being electrified by the opposition with Uranus in Pisces. By buying something handmade at Etsy, I’m declaring to the world that I’ve rejected the crap at the mall in favor of unique things made by hand, and I’m on the cutting edge.

The handmade movement seems a little more gritty and low-budget than the upscale arts and crafts exhibition held in places like Lincoln Center and Grand Central Terminal in New York. It also seems more political than artsy-fartsy.

Making things by hand can indeed be revolutionary. Think of Gandhi with his spinning wheel, exhorting Indians to reject the textiles made in British mills.

Who is the loser in the handmade movement? Wal-Mart, with all its cheesy Chinese goods. Who is the winner? Wal-Mart, the only store in my neighborhood where you can still buy fabric by the yard, an embroidery hoop, thread, and other tools of the crafty trades.

Let me leave you with my reminiscence of the coolest mall I ever visited. It was in Japan, where peak shopping experiences abound. The mall that blew my mind was near Mount Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano. This was a place where you could drop in unannounced and learn how to make handmade paper, arrange flowers, or do calligraphy. Yes, I was a consumer. I was spending money. But after two or so hours, I left with something I had made by hand.

What did the adults do with the kids? Well, this crafts center mall had day care, a working farm, and a petting zoo!

I’ve got to study Japan’s chart, but I think this nation epitomizes the yen (pun intended!) to make something by hand. I also think the Land of the Rising Sun has a great appreciation for nature and generally knows how to live in a civilized fashion, though I can do without the special slippers for the loo.

I’ve written previously about the Japanese version of Ikea, a store called Muji, which I think epitomizes Saturn in Virgo.

Obviously, the crafts revival has been percolating for quite while in the U.S. It never went out of fashion if you were a member of 4-H and working on a quilt for the county fair. But the handmade movement seems ready to go mainstream in a big way.

What are you making by hand? It’s not too early to start making your holiday gifts because I’m predicting this will be a Handmade Christmas, Yuletide, Saturnalia, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa.

Sadako Sasaki: The Saint of Hiroshima


As I noted in an earlier post, today is the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, the most horrific act that man has ever committed against his fellow man.

I’m amazed that there hasn’t been more outrage about dropping a nuclear bomb on innocent civilians. Although President Harry S Truman described Hiroshima as a “military base” when he told the nation of his decision to drop the bomb, in fact, civilians outnumbered military personnel by six to one, according to this Web site.

I think the Japanese are so used to keeping a low profile that the horror of Hiroshima — and Nagasaki two days later — hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.

Yes, the Japanese brought the U.S. into World War II by bombing Pearl Harbor. Yes, they committed great atrocities such as the so-called Rape of Nanking and subjecting POWs to the Bataan death march. Let’s not forget the Korean “comfort women” enlisted for the sexual pleasure of Japanese soldiers.

But dropping a nuclear bomb is exponentially worse than any of these other acts of violence. However, as the saying goes, it is the victors who write history, and the Japanese lost.

When I went to a demonstration outside the United Nations on Aug. 6, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, there were a just handful of protestors gathered on a windy, rainy day. It was me and a few Old Guard Jewish Commies from the Bronx — the same people who had been attacked at the Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill, N.Y. in 1949 and who protested in Union Square against the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953.

Then 35, I was the youngest face in the crowd. It made me sad that there were no students in front of the U.N. “Who will remember Hiroshima when these octagenarian activists go to their eternal rest?” I asked myself.

Now I know. It seems that Sadako Sasaki, a little girl from Hiroshima who died of leukemia caused by the Hiroshima bomb, is capturing the hearts of schoolchildren around the world more than 60 years after her death in 1955.

According to the Wiki, Sadako’s best friend taught her how to fold origami cranes while Sadako was dying in the hospital. Sadako tried to make 1,000 of them because there is a Japanese story that if you do this, you will get your wish. Sadako’s wish was a simple one — to live.

Sadako died before she reached her goal of 1,000 cranes, according to the Wiki, but she made more than 600. Her friends made up the difference so she was buried with 1,000 of the paper birds.

A Capricorn born Jan. 7, 1943, Sadako was memorialized in Eleanor Coerr’s classic children’s book Sadako Sasaki and the 1,000 Cranes. If you’d like to look at Sadako’s chart, you can see it here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Along with Sadako’s natal chart, I’ve called up the transits of Aug. 6, the day the bomb was dropped. I wish I knew what time she was born because I think that could tell us a lot more about her iconic role in the peace movement.

Sadako’s visibility will be on the rise this year as Jupiter transits Capricorn and lights up her stellium in Cap, which includes Sun, Mercury, Venus, and possibly the Moon, depending on when she was born. This year’s Jupiter transit also opposes Sadako’s natal Jupiter in Cancer.

Sadako Sasaki may not be a household name, but today children all over the world make origami cranes, posters featuring doves of peace, and other art through the auspices of the Peace Pals Project of the World Peace Prayer Society. Their wish? That war will stop and that there will never be another atomic bomb dropped.

What’s really exciting for me is that in September, artwork from Peace Pals all over the world will be on display for a week in my hometown of Beacon, N.Y. One of the catalysts for this event has been our Main Street stationery store, Paper Presence, which also runs an annual kite-making competition.

When I was researching Sadako to write this post, it struck me that she is Japan’s answer to Anne Frank, an enduring symbol of goodness in a world gone mad. It’s fitting that a child is the messenger of peace because the Sun was in Leo at the time of the Hiroshima bombing and Leo rules children. Children do have the power to change the world!

Savoring the Long Days of June

Moving from Southern California to New York State on June 1 does have its benefits. Longer days, to name one: 38 minutes longer, if this Web site is correct: http://www.sunrisesunset.com/

That’s the difference between the length of the day right now in New York City, vs. Los Angeles. I’m using these two cities as surrogates for Palm Springs, Calif., and Beacon, N.Y.

What do you do with 38 minutes of extra daylight? Well, if you’re me, you use it to walk to Ron’s Ice Cream on Fishkill Avenue and buy your first ice cream cone of the season. The rule in our house is that if my husband and I are going to Ron’s, we must walk. The thinking is that we will burn up the calories we consume in the ice cream cone during the walk to and from Ron’s, which is about a half-mile from our house.

I love to go out during the so-called magic hour (a term used by cinematographers, which I first learned about in the 1992 documentary Visions of Light). The magic hour is actually a few minutes before the sun goes down, not a whole hour. This period is prized by photographers because the light is diffuse and everything is bathed in a warm, golden glow. The harshness of daylight has disappeared and the sensuality of dusk is approaching.

Some people get a hopeful feeling at sunrise. Not me. I was born a few minutes before midnight, so I think I’m a night owl by design.

I made my magic hour trek to Ron’s by myself because Jim is still in Palm Springs. I ate my Hershey’s Peanut Butter Cup single cone on a bench where I see a Little League game in progress under the lights. No, not the Friday Night Lights, the Monday ones.

When I turned my head in the other direction, I could see the top of Mount Beacon, where patriots set fires during the Revolutionary War to signal information about British troop movements to George Washington, who was headquartered across the Hudson River in Newburgh.

What’s interesting to me in this old mill town is how many people jump in their Jeep Cherokees and Ford Explorers to travel a mile or less to grab a cone at Ron’s or a six-pack or lottery ticket at the corner deli. What is it going to take to get folks out of their SUVs and on their feet? Gas at $5 a gallon? $10?

There is a strange juxtaposition right now in Beacon and maybe in the U.S. On the one side, the tree huggers are apologizing for their carbon footprints and busily establishing compost piles in the backyards. On the other are those who feel that unlimited gasoline usage is their birthright. Is there an in-between in America?

To my mind, this would involve a sensible approach to conservation without finger-pointing from the Greens and temper tantrums from the gas guzzlers. It might also revive the quaint habit of walking to the store, the library, the ice cream stand. The only people who seem to walk in this town are children and senior citizens, though more bicycles seem to have arrived since I left here on Jan. 30.

Can we find a healthy place between self-flagellation for despoiling the planet and mindless consumption? I hope so.

Maybe Jupiter Transits are Overrated

The last time transiting Jupiter was on my Sun, in 1996, I got a dream job writing about the business of independent film and covering the world’s major film festivals — Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Berlin, New York.

I had an expense account that I used to buy breakfast, lunch, and dinner for indie film directors (that’s my Moon in Cancer at the Midheaven, feeding the world). I dressed up and hob-nobbed with stars at film premieres and glossy afterparties five nights a week. I know, you’re getting tired just listening to the hectic schedule of fun.

Given Jupiter’s last bit of bounty, I was hoping for something really fabulous this year as the Great Benefic passes over my Sun for the first time in 12 years. The second of Jupiter’s three conjunctions to my Sun was exact on May 30.

What did I get? A free cross-country airplane trip that was remarkably hassle-free, especially compared to my last go-around flying standby as a “nonrev” (that’s airline jargon for nonrevenue passenger). That’s certainly something to be thankful for.

In the month of May, I gained all the weight back that I had lost since the beginning of the year. Thanks, Jupiter! I really needed that extra padding to keep me comfy in those cramped airline seats.

Now, I still I have another pass of expansive Jupiter, later in the year, so maybe the big manna is yet to come. In the meantime, I’m back in Beacon, my working-class, crafty, diverse, tree-hugging gentrified mill town in the Hudson Valley. Sounds very Saturn in Virgo to me, maybe with the exception of the adjective “diverse.”

Guess what? We have a library that is within walking distance to our house. Who cares if gas goes to $5 a gallon? There’s nothing like summer to get me into the cool, prowling the stacks. I found a good book on Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla, the fathers of electricity, Empires of Light by Jill Jonnes.

I’m on a Tesla kick, as readers of this blog know. I got hooked after hearing astrologers at the United Astrology Conference in Denver last month talk about a breakthrough in energy that’s likely to come when Uranus goes into Aries. (See “The Return of Nikola Tesla,” filed under Cancer in the categories listed at the right.)

I still have a job, a car, a house, and a husband (I think I do, though he’s high on Palm Springs and the 130 or so golf courses in the area), so I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. I was reunited with our cat Bogey today and with Freddy, our beloved handyman, a Taurus who can fix anything on this circa 1900 brick cottage.

When I called him, he came right over to mow the lawn, which had been overlooked during the four months that I was gone. My old-fashioned push mower wasn’t going to topple 18 inches of grass, so I had to expand my carbon footprint a little by using a gasoline-powered model owned by a friend of Freddy’s. Mea culpa, Mother Earth!

With innovative Uranus in Pisces sextiling my Jupiter, I’ve suddenly got a blog and a new group of new astropals in the blogosphere. That counts for a lot, I know. But sometimes it doesn’t feel tangible enough for this ole Capricorn Sun.

I’m afraid the Internet is going to disappear one day, the way the Twin Towers did on Sept. 11, 2001. Apologies to my international readers who are tired of Americans whining about 9/11, but I’ve got a good excuse. A former employer of mine was having a conference at Windows on the World, a restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors of the North Tower, that fateful day, and I knew some folks who didn’t make it out.

In fact, I helped recruit one of the editors who died that day — David Rivers, a currency trading expert from Dow Jones. David was a fitness nut who always dressed in tight white designer jeans, an even tighter white designer T-shirt, and white sneakers (I think these were Converse, not Calvin Klein)– even in the middle of a New York City winter. If angel apparel comes from Marc Jacobs, David was dressed perfectly for heaven, where he most certainly is right now.

Here’s a link to a 9/11 Memorial Web site with a picture and tributes to David. (He’s wearing his trademark white outfit in the picture.)

As you can see, with Jupiter on your Sun, you start thinking about the Big Picture. With Jupiter transiting my fourth house of home and family, a new nephew of mine will be making his entrance into the world any day now. My husband’s nephew is getting married later this month in Colorado and that will bring us together with lots of friends and family. Maybe Jupiter’s gifts don’t always come tied up in a big red bow or with an American Express Corporate Card attached.