Pulled Within: The Astrology of June 2018

Perhaps I should change the title of this post to read, “The Astrology of the Rest of the Month.” My participation in the amazing 9th United Astrology Conference, which ended on May 30, and subsequent life upheavals have delayed the writing of my monthly AstroCast column, a mass forecast relevant for all signs, by a good 12 days or so. But better late than never, eh? The transits in place as of today actually serve as a very good springboard for examining the overall theme of the month that I’m calling “Pulled Within,” as the Mars Retrograde and other key features of the month betoken an inner harnessing of the planetary energies. Let’s have a closer look.

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 4 & Epilogue

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

“He went like one that hath been stunn’d

And is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man

He rose the morrow morn.”

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (lines 623-626)

The atmosphere in the Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel conference room where Dutch astrologer Karen Hamaker-Zondag taught her United Astrology Conference 2018 post-conference workshop on May 30, 2018, definitely felt gloomy and funereal. In many ways, the dimly lit and shockingly cold space would be a fitting Plutonian environment for delving deeply (six hours’ worth of learning in a single sitting) on the subject of “What Do You Really Want with Your 8th House and Pluto?”

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 3

All of the amazing concurrently running astrology workshops and classes comprising the 9th United Astrology Conference, recently held here in Chicago from May 23 to May 30 at the Marriott Magnificent Mile hotel on Michigan Avenue, definitely made it hard for me to choose which world-class teacher’s talk I would attend at any of the time slots for each day. At times I wanted a truly trans-historical, “big picture” perspective on the Cosmic Intelligences at work in all of our lives, while at other times my Virgo Sun Sign made me want to take a more granular view of planetary energies, focusing on present or imminent planetary transits. And while so many of my fellow Americans were planning on celebrating the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, May 28, through the time-honored tradition of outdoor grilling and family barbeques, the fires I wanted to zero in on instead were those of “Mars Transits and the Mars Cycle,” my first class of the day, which was taught by astrologer Donna Van Toen.

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 2

The main conference days of UAC 2018 were Friday, May 25 through Tuesday, May 29, though I also elected to participate in Karen Hamaker-Zondag’s 6-hour-long post-conference workshop on May 30 on the subject of the 8th House. These glorious days of intense learning, fellowship, socializing (I organized a small-group dinner outing to Greek Town for out-of-state conference attendees the night of Sunday, May 27) and partying (the Chicago “Roaring Twenties”-themed jazz party and silent auction on Saturday the 26thwas lots of fun) were definitely presided over by Airy and Watery Elemental forces.

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My Experiences at UAC 2018: Part 1

I’ve had a week to process the conclusion of one of the most formative experiences of my life: the 9th United Astrology Conference (UAC), which was held here in Chicago from May 23 to May 30. Sponsored by the International Association for Astrological Research, the American Federation of Astrologers, the National Council for Geocosmic Research, the American College of Vedic Astrology, and the Association for Astrological Networking, UAC is the world’s largest international astrology conference, and it gathers every three, six, or nine years somewhere in North America. I felt so lucky to have had this 2018 9th gathering take place so close to my house, which definitely helped as a cost-saving measure; I certainly wouldn’t have been able to attend if it were held elsewhere.

Cover of program

Cover of the UAC 2018 printed program. I feel like the little girl on the swing is a perfect portrait of my inner child, bob haircut and all!

This week-long “staycation” for me was prompted by a profound inner urging to not just accelerate the developments of my skill sets in astrology as a profession, but to heed the soul’s prompting to undergo a profound journey of self-discovery and self-actualization, a journey which entailed a major healing process for me as well—one that I didn’t (consciously) know that I needed. So many of us ask “the biggies” about what we are doing here on this earth, the lessons our incarnation brings us (as well as how to resolve past lessons so we don’t tote around so much karmic baggage!), and how to find our true purpose by maximizing the gifts we were born with and living a fulfilling life of self-development and service to others. And through it all, we acknowledge the acutely limited time allotted to us as mortal beings, which definitely adds to a sense of urgency to “figure it all out” before we grow too old and convince ourselves that our dreams have eluded us.

As Above, So Below

That’s the beauty of studying astrology. By highlighting the interrelatedness of the cycles found in the “Greater”/Cosmos with the cycles in the life of the “Lesser”/Individual—yoking together an understanding of “the Without” with “the Within”—astrology affirms a worldview based on the assumption that Divine Intelligences exist and are constantly orchestrating a meaningfully notated symphony of All That Is. Using the tools of astrology, people can pinpoint the section of the symphony that they are tasked to play and see how their individual parts relate to the whole. I’m not using this musical metaphor blindly  because the perfection of numbers (yes, I’m a Pythagorean!) is at the heart of it all.

The greatest joy for me as an astrologer is to hold up that veritable cosmic mirror to a client and see how he or she lights up when coming to a profoundly joyful acceptance of their Being and Becoming as revealed through the language of planetary positions and placements in their natal and progressed charts. The “Aha!” moments of self-recognition are facially expressed with widened eyes and huge grins: yes, that’s why I knew I never wanted children—Saturn in Cancer in the 5th House!

I had a plethora of such “Aha!” moments myself throughout the entire magical week of UAC 2018. If you’d care to take my hand, I’ll walk you through my experiences by day, each of which seemed to have its own distinct Elemental character.

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Shock and Awe: The Astrology of May 2018

The Sun’s annual transit through Taurus, which encourages us to cultivate prosperity and pleasure in our lives, serves as the stabilizing cosmic backdrop for monumental changes that will be striking mid-month. The key transits of the month, whose impact will be felt for years to come, are that Uranus and Mars change signs, forming a harsh aspect with each other in the process and likely unleashing volatility and violence on the world stage; it all happens in the wake of the Taurus New Moon on the 13th. Join me, please, in taking a deep breath before we take a deep dive into these harbingers of transformation. [Pause.] Ready? Here we go! (Note: All times given for planetary transits reflect my time zone of Central Daylight Time in the U.S. Please adjust accordingly for your time zone.)

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Hail and Welcome, Powers of Fire and Earth! The Astrology of April 2018

The Cardinal Fire Sign of Aries has three planets in its sign as this dynamic month kicks off: the Sun, Retrograde Mercury, and Uranus in the final degrees of its Aries transit. Aries energy is the creative spark, of harnessing Elemental Fire in the service of birthing the new; energy wholly aligned, if you work with the Runes, with Kenaz, the torch:



The major themes of this month pertain to the Elemental energies of Fire and Earth, and how those two Elements relate to one another through the planets transiting and forming aspects to one another through Signs governed by those Elements: we’re largely concerned here with Aries, Capricorn, and Taurus. Water gets a shout-out towards the close of the month with a very powerful Scorpio Full Moon, one which has a lot of benevolent, stabilizing, and supportive aspects to it because of the positive relationship between Scorpio as a Water Sign to the Earth Signs of Taurus and Capricorn.

The Dynamic “Square Dance” (See What I Did There? Ha!) Between Aries and Capricorn

As Signs, Aries and Capricorn sit at a 90° angle in relation to each other in the Zodiac. However, there is one key ingredient that helps them “play well” with each other this month: the presence of war-like Mars, ruler of Aries, currently transiting Capricorn and forming a conjunction with Capricorn’s ruler, Saturn, for the first six days or so of the month (the conjunction is exact on April 2 at 8° of Capricorn).


The planet Mars is actually exalted in Capricorn, meaning He really, really likes to channel His energies there. Remember, Mars rules Aries, a Cardinal Fire Sign that is great for initiating projects–several projects simultaneously, in fact–but not necessarily seeing them through to completion. That’s where the stabilizing power of Saturn comes to the rescue: Saturn, transiting His home sign of Capricorn for the next two years, affords the structure and stability needed for that Martial Fire Energy to shape things into being that will have real staying power. Mars-conjunct-Saturn ensures endurance and persistence, yoking the strong work ethic of Capricorn (the folks in the Zodiac most likely to be known as “Workaholics!”) to Aries’ drive and leadership proclivities. The initiatory energy of Mars meets the long-term support of patient Saturn, and, in true alchemy, what ensues is a metal as lasting as iron or lead, tools for us to use in formulating the structures for what we most want to manifest for the long run.

Of course, there’s a “darker” aspect to this conjunction of these two planets. After all, in the Classical world, they were known as the “Malefics,” and one viable interpretation of Mars-conjunct-Saturn (in the ancient world and now) is the misapplication of this constructive energy into the destruction of war, as well as add combustion to more localized outbreaks of violence. The news headlines have been keeping us busy on this front, naturally, at least here in the U.S. with crazies (of every gender) going off on shooting sprees more times than one is seemingly capable of keeping track of.

Anyway, adding His Cosmic Monkey-Wrench into the mix is fleet-footed Mercury, Lord of Commerce and Communications, doing His Retrograde dance in Aries, a Sign He doesn’t particularly care for to begin with (although, to be fair, He prefers being in Aries to drowning in Pisces, in whose cosmic oceanic currents His thoughts get lost entirely). Retrograde Mercury, ruler of Earthy Virgo and Airy Gemini, is entirely capable of calling to a halt the kinds of life-building plans you’d like to put into effect from the Mars-Saturn conjunction. It may seem like you’re making progress one day, only to have a metaphorical (hopefully, not literal!) brick wall slam up against you. Travel plans can and often do go awry and infrastructures related to support communications suddenly fail: we’re talking server crashes, losing important files (digital or hard copy), dropped calls, road accidents, you name it. As always during any Mercury Retrograde period, back up important files, confirm messages for clarity, give yourself plenty of extra time when traveling, and take many self-care breaks to stave off the irritants that will undoubtedly get to you (Mars in Capricorn strongly suggests physical exercise to combat stress: punching bags at the gym are the best option!).

The Mercury Retrograde period, which technically began on March 22, really began on March 8 when He was at 4° of Aries. What were you going through on March 8? How was your life at that time? It’s an important detail because when Mercury turns Direct on April 15 (Tax Day in the U.S.!), He will be at…drum roll, please…4° of Aries! That’s where He began His Shadow entry point from March 8! But Mercury won’t be out of His Shadow period until May 3, and by that time He will have reached 16° of Aries.

What does this mean? More than anything, astrology is the study of cycles; what Mercury’s Retrograde period really translates into, when we encompass the pre-Retro Shadow period begun on March 8 and exit the post-Retro Shadow period on May 3, is that Mercury will be bringing karmic lessons: dangling before you, front and center, whether you like it or not, the lessons you didn’t learn from the events you were experiencing around March 8. It’s important, also, to know the degrees of planets in your natal chart: pay special attention to see which ones fall at the 4° and 16° mark (give or take a couple of degrees). Those planets and the signs / houses they occupy in your natal chart will be the life-themes being triggered by this whole Mercury Retrograde Shadow period. (If you would like me to cast your natal chart, that is one of the services I can offer you as a professional astrologer, along with a transit report for the rest of the year so you can learn which energies to maximize and which negative ones to mitigate. Email me at jackalmoondesigns@gmail.com)

So, to recap, on the one hand we have Mars-Saturn conjunct in Capricorn, encouraging us to go full steam ahead with plans and giving us the energy, leadership acumen, and the stamina to see them through to completion; on the other hand, however, we have Mercury Retrograde in Aries, warning us that the best thing for us to do is review where we’ve already been and not kick new things off until April 15 at the very least, or May 3 if you can wait a little while longer.

This push-pull dynamic can certainly be frustrating, so use your judgment as to how much you can realistically pull off (Saturn in Capricorn) given whatever hiccups (Mercury Retrograde in Aries) might surface. As annoying as this period can be, it can also be profoundly rewarding if you keep your goals realistic and work towards them with discipline and efficiency, the real gifts of the Mars-Saturn conjunction.

The Goddess Venus Lends Us Some Grace!


Botticelli’s Renaissance masterpiece, The Birth of Venus. Image from Wikipedia.

Like a heroine rushing in to the rescue, lovely and golden Venus, very much loving the current transit in Her sensual home, the Fixed Earth Sign of Taurus, is here to encourage us to surround ourselves with creature comforts, especially the Taurean loves of money and the pleasures it can buy, outdoor pursuits like gardening, and gourmet goodness! (Diet, shmy-et! From here on out, counting calories is forbidden!)

She helps us all heal from our Mercury Retrograde-induced headaches with a wonderful pair of positive energy trines: first, Venus in Taurus trines Saturn at 9° of Capricorn on April 7, and then She trines Her lover, Mars, at 11° of Capricorn on April 9. The overall stabilizing, sensual, and life-affirming joie de vivre lasts from the 7th to the 10th. Make the most of these juicy energies! (Tip: Venus trine Saturn favors investing in art. And you don’t need me to tell you about the sexual fireworks that will ensue with Her trine to Mars! Yeowza!)

Rounding out the other Venusian aspects to other planets, we have Venus opposing jolly Jupiter in Scorpio on April 16–more sexual fireworks!–and Venus will trine powerful Pluto on April 17. This can bring power dynamics in relationships to the surface, so, especially while Mercury is still Retrograde, be clear in your communications with your sweetheart(s) on what your needs are, listen to his/her/their needs, and vocalize what turns you on! You’ll thank me for it.

Aspects That Expose Secrets in the Corridors of Power

Mid-month, we’ll be having a couple of planetary aspects that serve to flush out previously hidden dynamics where sexuality and power intersect. The Aries Sun squares Pluto at 22° Capricorn on April 10 and 11, and Jupiter in Scorpio will sextile Pluto in Capricorn on the 14th. So much of what we’ve already been seeing in the news headlines about the #MeToo movement and sexual scandals in the political sphere will be fueled by these two transits, which are all about shining the spotlight on abuses of power that were previously kept out of (public) sight. Pay attention.

Aries New Moon on April 15


The New Moon in 25° of Aries will be exact on April 15 at 8:57 p.m. CDT. It will be an exciting Moon of shock-and-awe developments because of the support from a tight conjunction between the Aries Moon and wild-card Uranus in His final degrees of being in Aries (Uranus enters Taurus on May 15). Cliché as it sounds, expect the unexpected. If this dynamism weren’t enough, the Aries Moon will be squaring powerful Pluto at 21° of Capricorn, really encouraging wholesale personal transformation. Aries is the Sign of the Self. How do you want your Selfhood to evolve? What practical (Capricorn) steps can you take to see that through? That’s what this lunation is going to be about.

Mercury Turns Direct on April 15 as well.

On April 17, Saturn will Station Retrograde at 9° of Capricorn, a transit that lasts until September 6. Any perceived Saturnian obstacles your chart has noted in the past might be triggered as Saturn “back-tracks” over those same pain points in your chart. Again, look to see the sign and house where this is happening for you.


Chiron the Centaur

Also on the 17th, the planetoid Chiron, known as the “Wounded Healer” due to its association with the mythical Greek Centaur of the same name, leaves Pisces and moves into Aries: a transit that lasts all the way through the year 2026! I predict that Chiron in Aries will bring exciting developments in the fields of medical devices and related technologies, innovating the ways in which we apply modalities of physical healing. Let’s focus on breakthroughs in whichever areas of our lives, determined by Chiron’s presence in our chart, will be affected! (In my natal chart, I have Chiron in Aries in my second House of Earned Income, so I’m hoping this Chiron Return will bring some needed money mojo!)

Transits and Aspects Rounding Out the Month

On April 18, the Sun in the late degrees of Aries will exactly conjunct Uranus, bringing a real emphasis not so much on catalyzing new things but completing projects already begun.

The next day, the Sun moves into the Fixed Earth Sign of Taurus, and from April 19-23, Venus and the Sun will be doubly blessing us with the Taurean theme of Worldly Pleasures. As I mentioned in my astro post last month, this is the energy behind The Empress card of the Tarot:


Again, make the most of this! On the 24th, Venus leaves Her Earthy Sign behind and moves into the playful, intellectually curious, and highly social sphere of Gemini, where Her loving vibes have a cooler, more fickle (well, certainly more distracted), nature to them. Her transit in Gemini lasts until May 19.

Pluto turns Retrograde at 21° of Capricorn on April 22, helping us all consider the revisions of the structures in our lives, especially at the transpersonal/political level.

On April 23 and 24, ambitious Mars in Capricorn sextiles His good friend, Jupiter in Scorpio, blessing us with much-needed optimism and a “can-do” attitude. Roll up your sleeves and get to work! Jupiter lends the work done in Mars with an expansive, uplifting outlook.

Some thorns may be protruding from our collective roses on April 25 and 26 with two potentially difficult aspects: Mercury’s square to Saturn at 9° of Capricorn and the conjunction between Mars and Pluto at 21° of Capricorn, respectively. In the former planetary aspect, there may be challenges to business negotiations and signing legally binding documents. Those two days are not the best ones to ask your boss for a raise. In the latter aspect, Mars-conjunct-Pluto is another one of those ones where we have to be vigilant against the eruption of physical violence. Again, this conjunction can be viewed as a chief marker for initiating warfare. Watch the headlines for any international pissing contests, as if our Earth needs any more of those! And yet, it’s not always so dire: Mars-conjunct-Pluto gives us indefatigable energy so we can truly make headway in accomplishing whatever we set our minds to. Just push your way forward ethically, please!

A beautifully stabilizing, sensual, and money-boosting aspect happens on April 29, evoking the wonderful harmony between the Sister Earth energies of Taurus and Capricorn. The Taurus Sun will trine Saturn at 9° of Capricorn, helping us really build our projects from solid foundations that will last. How can you restructure your life for the better? This is an ideal day for business negotiations or even playing the stock market. Real estate transactions are especially favored, as that is Saturn’s favorite way to make money over the long haul.

Make the end of the month count to put your ideas into concrete action! And then treat yourself to a reward afterwards, as both the Sun in Taurus and Grandpa Saturn in Capricorn believe in reaping a good reward for well-done work. That’s how karma works, after all: the energies of what you receive are directly proportional to the energies you put in. So put in good work and then go cash in your karma coupons with gusto!

Fabulous Finale of a Full Moon in Scorpio


The month ends on a powerful, wholly supportive note on April 29 of a Full Moon at 9° of Scorpio, occurring at 7:58 p.m. CDT. I vote that this night be chosen for any Beltane celebrations as well as any sex magick workings you may choose to perform: the energies are just so wonderful, so JUICY! You’ve got the Earthy Trine between Taurus and Capricorn mentioned above, plus the Scorpio Moon will sextile Jupiter in Scorpio. What else could you possibly ask for? Prosperity Magick, Personal Evolution, Fertility Rites, Tantra: It’s a Cosmic Green Light for All of the Above!

So get out there, my friends, and make magic through LOVE! Blessed Be!