Monday, December 20, 2010

The Lunar Eclipse of December 2010 -- What to Expect

Tonight's a big night for those of you who watch the stars, whether you do so as an astronomer, an astrologer or simply someone who is curious about the skies. This particular one will be occurring in Gemini very early on December 21, 2010.

Astrologically speaking, an eclipse is certainly an event of importance all by itself. However, it is important to note that a particular eclipse's significance is magnified significantly according to other events that are going on in the skies at the same time. Naturally, the lunar eclipse of 2010 will also be taking place at the same time as a full moon. It will be occurring at the already very pivotal time of the Winter Solstice as well, so this is a big one for sure.

Eclipses as a rule are known for "shaking things up" and catalyzing change in regards to whatever they touch. Lunar eclipses have a tendency to be specifically related to the realms of relationships, deep-seated desires, and strong emotions. They also tend to shine spotlights on areas of profound need and lack, so it is not unusual for people to suddenly have epiphanies about what's missing in their lives around the time of a lunar eclipse in any or all of the areas I specified. By now, you are most likely already feeling these effects, so you probably also have some idea of what the universe is asking you to take a closer look at right now.

It's important to understand that the eclipse doesn't cause whatever situation may be coming to light for you around this time though. Whatever it is, it is something that has been simmering underneath the surface for a long time, so this change has been a long time coming. The events tied to this particular eclipse will make you violently aware of what you do (and don't) need in regards to this situation.

Yes, if there is an important relationship in your life that is toxic, you may find that the other shoe is about to drop and send you both on your separate ways. However, it can just as easily underline and strengthen the bond between two people who are truly close in all the right ways, so it's not all gloom and doom. Eclipses are primarily about awareness and the opening of one's eyes to the way things really are. They may indeed instigate monumental or far-reaching change, but rest assured that whatever it is is for the best and will open the door to bigger and better things in the future.

The total lunar eclipse of 2010 will be taking place in Gemini while opposing the sun in Sagittarius. This brings concepts and areas of life that are ruled by both signs into play while highlighting the way they are related to one another. Both of these signs are mentally oriented and thought-centric with Gemini covering those concepts as they relate to our immediate environment and Sagittarius representing broader, further-reaching trains of thought. This is an eclipse about finding a balance between the two and really, that is the key to making the most of this celestial event and coming out on the other side unscathed.

You should also understand that the sequences related to eclipses reach a long time into the future, as opposed to just one night, so you can expect to be watching whatever this one brings to your life unfold over the next three months or so. As I mentioned, it may be related to an important relationship in your life or a marriage, but it could just as easily involve your relationship with your family, your work, or yourself as well. You're at an exciting and very important crossroads right now and the next few months will hold many clues as to what the future holds for you.

This type of eclipse can also create a profound sense of urgency and impatience in regards to the situation at hand. You may feel as if you're bursting at the seams right now, but try to take things slow and think things through very carefully before taking irreversible action as well. (Try to hold off on finalizing major decisions or plans for at least a week if at all possible to make sure they're truly what you want.) Eclipses and full moons can both cause us to act dramatically and impulsively, so you can only imagine what they can do when they happen on the same day. Our friend Mercury is still in retrograde until the end of the month as well, so communications and anything related to travel are even less likely to go smoothly than usual.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On Charging for Spiritual Services

I've been following Pagan Blog Prompts for a while now, but I have yet to actually write on any of the topics despite really wanting to. This one seems like a good one to start with, because it's actually something that comes up a lot for me in regards to pretty much everything I do for a living.
We all know the economy is in a downward spiral as of late, and because of that, people have become willing to sell just about anything they can to make some extra money. While selling material goods is one thing, how do you feel about people that charge for spiritual services?
For example, does it make one a bad person if one sells Tarot or Palm readings to make ends meet? What about the folks who offer spiritual advice and guidance without divination tools, and charge for that service? Is this really a matter of ethics at all?
Well, anyone who knows me knows that I work for myself and have for quite a few years running. However, my working for myself and "selling just about anything I can" doesn't have anything to do with the economy. It has to do with wanting to earn a living using what I consider to be my real talents and strengths. Sadly, as someone whose gifts are primarily creative, there aren't many places out there on the traditional job scene that allow me to do that in the way I really want to. However, working for myself allows me to open all sorts of doors for myself and do what I would like to for a living... the way I want to. My primary profession is in writing and visual art. However, I also will occasionally charge money for astrological or divinatory readings.

While it is true that I'm a creative and spiritual person first and foremost, I also happen to be a practical one. It's that practical side of myself that has always been at a loss to understand why some people seem to feel money taints whatever it touches. People like artists, mediums, spiritual counselors, and so forth appear to be held to a very odd standard that doesn't apply to any other type of professional. It's like people have visions of us living on dew drops and happy thoughts instead of needing to pay for food, clothing, credit card debt, and all the rest of it. They feel that if we were sincere and unselfish in our desires to offer these services that we would never ask for anything in exchange... especially money.

The thing is we are just like anyone else. We want to like what we do for a living as badly as anyone else, so we take what we're good at and see if we can't find a way to pay our bills with it. If what we have to offer is worth something to someone, why shouldn't we charge for it? It's not like we're greedy, black-hearted money-grubbers who are bent on swindling people out of their hard-earned cash. We're just trying to make a living the same as anyone else. I don't think that makes us bad people and I definitely don't think it means we somehow don't have a sincere desire to bring pleasure or insight to the lives of others.

The only time I really have an issue with people charging for divination, astrological, or spiritual services of any kind is if they're the unethical sort of person who really is just lying through their teeth to try to get the person to shell out as much money as possible. Although some things about astrology or divination are up for personal interpretation, that is far less the case than I think outsiders realize. When you read a birth chart or a tarot spread, it says what it says. It's your job as the reader to convey the information you uncover to the client in the most helpful way possible.

I also firmly believe in being honest. When I do a reading for someone, I don't just tell them what they want to hear in the hopes that they'll pay me for another ego boost at some future date. I point out the good and the bad. I tell them what the answer is whether or not it's what they want to hear and I cross my fingers and hope that what I've said is helpful to them in some way. As a matter of fact, if I think someone is approaching me for a reading looking for a hand pat and not for honesty, I will probably refuse to give them a reading at all. That's how important integrity and honesty really is to me as this type of service provider.

I offer very high quality services from a background of deep study, knowledge and an honest desire to help others. I have quite a few peers in this business that can say the same. In what way does that not entitle us to a good, honest living in exchange?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What Is the Real "Reason for the Season"?

To your left, you see an atheist billboard that just recently went up near the Lincoln tunnel, a 1 1/2-mile long tube that connects New York and New Jersey. It is currently being seen by thousands of local commuters of all faiths every day. It was also paid for by a New Jersey atheist advocate group in an alleged attempt to make atheists feel more comfortable coming out of the closet and less obligated to participate in religious festivals that they don't believe in. 

Naturally, it is turning heads and causing the expression of many opinions, especially on the internet. Many Christians are understandably outraged at the way Christmas is actually being referred to as "a myth". Many atheists find the billboard inspiring (this was actually posted about in a discussion community I belong to attached to the meta tag "fuck yeah", if memory serves). Still others have more ambiguous feelings about the whole thing or don't care at all.

And what's my opinion about the whole thing... especially since I consider myself to be pagan if anything these days? Well to be honest, just looking at it kind of ruins my otherwise consistent holiday buzz and really. The same thing honestly goes for the Christian-oriented "Jesus is the reason for the season" type billboards you sometimes see around this time of year. For one thing, it's called faith for a reason. You have faith that your belief system is correct, but you do not know any more than anyone else does in regards to their beliefs.

Also, I suppose I am of the mind that spiritual beliefs are not the type of thing that even belong on a billboard in the first place. One's relationship with God (or lack thereof) is a very personal choice, in my opinion. Advertising one's spiritual beliefs as universal truths in plain English alongside public roads and freeways when they are not is completely uncalled for. It is alienating and off-putting to people who don't share those beliefs and I just don't think that's the right attitude to have around this time of year no matter what you believe.

I do and always will believe that it's understandable to want to share your beliefs with others in the hopes that it may bring the same joy and enlightenment to them that it brings to you. I also understand wanting to feel free to practice your beliefs openly. However, there are productive ways of doing that and non-productive ways of doing it. Belief-oriented billboards are what I personally feel is an excellent example of a non-productive way to do that. They start arguments and shit-storms. They promote intolerance toward people who don't believe as you do. 

Instead, why not make yourself a walking, talking example of all that you feel your beliefs bring to your life? I guarantee that people will be much more open to finding out what makes you tick and open to hearing about your take on God or on life in general if enlightenment is truly your intention. Maybe this is me just being a hippie, but why spread hate when you can spread love? It just doesn't make sense to me at all... unless maybe some individuals want to start shit storms, but that's a whole different post in and of itself.

Don't even get me started on how there are more than two spiritual beliefs in this country. We always hear about atheists and Christians, but what about pagans for example? No one seems worried about the fact that I really can't go around wishing anyone outside the pagan community a "Happy Solstice" without getting disgusted looks more often than not. I don't see anyone putting up a billboard in the hopes of making me feel less alone this holiday season. 

I'm forced to find my own ways of seeking solidarity with people of like mind if that's what I want, but I really wouldn't have it any other way. I don't want there to be a pagan billboard that might make people of other faiths feel alienated or excluded when they see it. I am perfectly happy with there being a time and a place for me to express my beliefs openly and put my thoughts out there for other pagans or even just people in general to read. The desire to do so is really one of the reasons I started this blog -- to connect with anyone and everyone who is interested in my thoughts on certain topics, but especially spirituality.

In my opinion, the real reason for the season is about a way of thinking and treating others. It's about generosity and brotherhood. It's about overlooking and transcending differences in order to come together in harmony even if it's just for a little while... not poo-flinging and forcing others to view exclusionist propaganda that mocks other people's religious beliefs as "myths". I personally plan on spending my holiday spreading goodwill and celebrating all the wonderful people in my life for which I am thankful, as well as humanity in general. Yes, there will be a spiritual element to my holiday as well, but it will be kept to myself or shared as appropriate. I would never want to use my spirituality to put someone else down or ruin their holiday. I believe that you reap what you sow, after all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cat's Cosmic Weather Report -- December 2010

Drawing Down the Moon - Shannon Hilson
Given the fact that I make astrological predictions and write horoscopes elsewhere as part of my living, it only makes sense that I would want to publish some on my own blog from time to time, especially since I am thinking about pimping my services as a spiritual counselor and astrologer around a bit more seriously in the future. However, I think I will make my monthly horoscope post here a bit more general than other sites do.

The reasons for that are two-fold. For one thing, sign-specific predictions are kind of redundant if you already follow the predictions I write for Angel Vision's newsletter and I am very much trying to avoid redundancy as much as possible these days. Also, one of my eventual aims as an astrologer -- especially in regards to this blog -- is to teach the importance of considering complete birth charts when making sign-specific predictions. Far too many people think that horoscopes and astrology are only about sun signs without realizing how limiting that is. In truth, thorough astrology takes into consideration everything about a person's chart and predictions are ideally done for individuals for that reason.

Nevertheless, it can do a lot of good to be aware of what the planetary influences and cosmic trends are going to be for a given time period so that you know not only what to expect, but how to prepare. (Regardless of your astrological sign, the same aspects affect everyone similarly.) Think of it as being similar to a weather report. If you know when a rain storm is most likely to show up, then you know what days to bring your umbrella so that you stand a better chance of staying dry. If you know which days will be most likely to bring sunshine and pleasant temperatures, then you know when to plan your picnics. Astrology is much the same. So without further ado, here is my cosmic weather report for December. I do hope it will be helpful!


New Moon in Sagittarius / Uranus Goes Direct / New Moon-Saturn Sextile

The new moon will be occurring in Sagittarius this month on the 5th and people of all signs will be thinking quite a bit about new plans for their futures around that time. New moons are always about the beginnings of a cycle, phase or plan of action and Sagittarius is forward-thinking and future-oriented to the utmost. Some will be planning new professional or creative moves. Others will be looking to revolutionize their social lives or their roles in their community. Which exact case this will be for you depends largely on your individual chart, but the chances are excellent that you already sort of know by now which area of your life you'll be thinking about in this way.

Uranus also goes direct on that day, ending a long retrograde period and lending his unique, innovative energy to the mix. This is a planet that is all about revolution, change, impulsivity, and invention, so not only will you possibly be embarking on the next leg of some new journey, but you'll be feeling your oats about it. Take care to consider the difference between smart risk-taking and foolhardiness though. Uranus may give conservative signs the gumption to get off their cans and take some chances, but it may make already impulsive ones even less responsible. Definitely don't be afraid to leap... but look first. Make sense?

Last but not least, reliable Saturn will be forming a harmonious sextile with the new moon, which will help to balance and compliment the impetuous energy introduced to the situation by Sagittarius and Uranus. Other people may be key pieces to the puzzle when it comes to gaining perspective in regards to the plans you are making. Seeking advice from trusted confidantes is recommended right now to help you increase the chances of actually reaching your goals. 

Mercury Retrograde

Aren't we lucky? Because of the way the planetary timetable fell this year, we get one more Mercury retrograde period before 2010 is over with for good... and it falls over the holiday, too. This time around, Mercury will be retrograde from the 10th to the 30th and will bring with it all of the usual pain-in-the-ass likelihoods. Miscommunications will be more likely, as will travel delays and annoyances related to billing or payments. If you're going out of town for your holiday you need to double and triple check your appointments, arrangements, and scheduled plans to minimize your chances of really annoying screw-ups and delays. 

If you were planning on making a major purchase this December (either for yourself or for a loved one) -- especially if it is any type of electronic equipment -- see if you can get it done before the 10th. After the 10th, it is less likely to work properly or be what the recipient really wanted. If it's the type of purchase that can wait, you might want to consider postponing it altogether. Also, try not to let words fly out of your mouth unchecked if you want your holiday festivities to go as smoothly as possible... especially after Mercury backtracks into impulsive Sagittarius on the 18th. Misunderstandings and resulting hurt feelings are more likely than usual. 

Mercury retrograde may be a terrible time to travel, start new projects, or bring up important subjects for discussion, but it is actually a very good time for other activities. Tie up loose ends on existing projects or get in touch with people you've lost touch with this holiday season. Go over existing creative work that may need some editing or revamping (NaNoWriMo people, I'm lookin' at you and your brand new novels) instead of starting something new. You get the picture. (Feel free to refer to my Mercury retrograde survival guide for more tips on how to handle this aspect.)

Full Moon in Gemini / Full Moon-Uranus Square / lunar Eclipse

This month, the full moon will be taking place in the last degree of Gemini on the 21st. This is also the date of the winter solstice (in the Northern hemisphere, anyway), as well as a lunar eclipse. All of these things together will add up to a rather powerful combination of aspects that may cause quite the degree of change in your life, no matter what your sign. Eclipses have a way of bringing important issues to light in dramatic ways while full moons typically mark the culmination of a particular cycle. 

This time around, prepare for situations to come to light that both require your attention and correspond to one of the areas ruled by Gemini -- people, community activities, friendships, and so forth. If you've been spreading yourself too thin in any of these areas, you're about to become aware of it around the time of this collection of aspects. A change is called for and it will be made clear what that change must be. You can either go with the flow and do what you know is required of you at this time or you can wait for the universe to change things for you. It's always better to willingly do what needs to be done though, just FYI.

The full moon will also be forming a difficult 90-degree square with surprise-loving, innovative Uranus. As I mentioned above, Uranus always tends to bring the unexpected into the mix, so don't be surprised if any bolts from the blue or gods from the machine show up in your life. Yes, this could put a crimp in your holiday plans, but the best way to deal would be to expect the unexpected and be flexible instead of trying to plan your holiday festivities down to the last detail.