column
by Anita

The Wiccan year may begin at Samhain, but the astrological year begins at the spring equinox, when the Sun enters the sign of Aries.

Easter/spring equinox /Oestara is traditionally a time symbolized by eggs, seeds and new growth. But think of what it's like to be a seed. A hard outer shell has protected you. You lived through the cold, harsh winter, feeding on nourishment provided in the seed or fruit. But eventually, the forces that make you grow make you realize the protective shell is no longer appropriate for you. You want to experience the warmth and light firsthand. You need to break your shell in order to fulfill your true mission and find your identity.

Spring is the time when the earth's growing root mass cracks concrete in order to produce a single blade of grass. Think about that power, that force. It's the time when the new buds on roses begin as red spots on the stalk, much like a pimple or a wound. Sun in Aries is the time of year when we focus on breaking old molds to grow into new forms. Or to grow into our true forms.

When I was learning astrology, my teachers loved to say that Taurus, being a fixed sign, is the most stubborn sign of the zodiac. Taurus, the bull, the immovable force. "Oh," my teachers would say, "you can't lead a Taurus!" So, I wondered, what was so adaptable about Leo, Scorpio or Aquarius, the other fixed signs? Why was the joke always on Taurus? If bulls were so immovable, then why are matadors in Spain so successful at manipulating them?

After some years of experience, though, I learned. The real stubborn sign of the zodiac is Aries. You can't teach Aries what they don't want to learn. Taurus may be a bull, but Aries is a ram, and decidedly more aggressive. No wonder Dodge took the ram as the symbol for its trucks. True, some of the fixed signs of the zodiac may be more resistant to change than Aries is. But at least Taurus and Scorpio will hold their tongues and do what they will behind your back, after you leave. Leo will make a joke about it, and Aquarius will gather with a like-minded group of friends. They may picket your office. Aries, though, will proclaim their opinions from the rooftop to anyone who will listen. And they will collar those who don't care to listen and preach to them anyway. You can't escape an Aries.

Aries were meant to be pioneers. They were meant to lead; to forge the new path into the wilderness where no one has gone before. If you've already been there, don't tell them. They won't listen anyway. Even if they ask your advice, be prepared for them putting their own spin on your words. It's a very mature, highly sophisticated Aries who truly listens to others' advice. The natural path for an ordinary Aries is to learn the hard way, by the school of hard knocks. (That's why they're endowed with thick skulls!) It's the way of the fire sign: Act first, ask questions later. (Oops--was that a door? Ouch!)

The Twelfth House in a chart often represents the reason behind what manifests in the First House. If we take the keyword Faith as representative of the sign Pisces (whose natural position is the Twelfth House), it becomes the root cause behind Aries, the force of will, in the First House. We can liken this effect to the reason why fundamentalist Christians are so successful in so many ways: They have absolute faith, coupled with pure will. They do not doubt. Faith does indeed move mountains. The slightest doubt in our power becomes the single pebble that overturns the chariot of the master of the world. This is the virtue, the lesson, of Aries: I believe, therefore I am.

The Houses of a Chart

The astrological chart is divided into 12 pieces called houses. Each house governs a specific area of your life. For example, the First House rules your appearance, the Second House your finances, the Third House communications and brothers and sisters and the Fourth House governs where you live. For a good general discussion of houses and other basic astrological principles, read Gail Fairfield's Choice-Centered Astrology.

In your birth chart, a zodiac sign governs each house. If you know what time you were born, you can calculate your birth chart and find out what signs are on your houses.

If you don't know what time you were born, an astrologer would make up what's called a solar chart, which puts your Sun sign on the Ascendant (rising sign). If you're a Scorpio, the solar chart would have Scorpio on the Ascendant, Sagittarius (the next sign in the zodiac) on the Second House, Capricorn on the Third House, Aquarius on the Fourth House, and so on in order around the chart. A so-called "natural chart" is one where Aries falls on the ascendant. What "natural chart" means is that the signs are placed on the houses that they normally rule.

None of the Sun signs can be read independently. This is how to read the full meaning of a sign: Put it on the ascendant, and read the interpretation of each sign on each of the cusps. For example, what makes Scorpio mysterious is the fact that it has Aquarius on the Fourth House cusp (independence as a foundation), and Gemini on the Eighth House cusp (curiosity and flexibility -- to say the least -- on the subject of sex). Put Scorpio on the Ascendant, and you have Libra (harmony, balance) on the Twelfth House, the house of so-called "self-undoing," or things we'd like to hide. Making concessions to other people isn't the easiest thing in the world for a Scorpio, and the Twelfth House Libra is why.

Typically, when astrologers write columns that make predictions by sign, they place that sign on the ascendant and read the planetary angles (called aspects) by house placement. For example, Mercury in Taurus might relate to financial issues for an Aries (who would have Taurus on the Second House), or partnership issues for a Scorpio (for whom Taurus would be on the Seventh House). If you know your rising sign, you should probably read predictions for that as well as your own sun sign.

From Oestara to Beltane:

The Outer Planets
The following table shows the movement of the slower-moving outer planets from equinox to Beltane 2005.

Saturn in Cancer provides an excellent influence for contacting household spirits and blessing your house. The best use of Saturn in Cancer is protective work; protection of your children, pets or anyone connected with your home. Avoid falling into the trap of fear, because that is easy for Saturn in Cancer. Remember that energy goes where thoughts go, and if your thoughts are centered on fear, that is what you will materialize. It's this fear that politicians draw on when they proclaim to our nation that we're in imminent danger of terrorist attacks. Such scare tactics will only work until mid-July, when Saturn moves into Leo.

Aspects at Oestara

There are two Full Moons and one New Moon between Oestara and Beltane this year. The focus is on finishing earlier work rather than starting new projects, especially with Mercury retrograde. The following aspects (angles between planets) occur within the proximity of Oestara this year:

March 19
Mercury goes retrograde at 4:14 p.m. PST. When a planet is retrograde, it appears to move backward in its orbit as seen from the earth. Mercury will be retrograde until 12:46 a.m. PDT on April 12.
March 20
The Sun enters Aries at 4:33 a.m. PST. The Moon enters Leo 5:17 a.m. PST. Mars enters Aquarius 10:02 a.m. PST.
March 21
Saturn goes direct (ceases to be retrograde) at 6:54 p.m. PST.

With retrograde Mercury and Saturn and Mars in the last degrees of Capricorn when the Sun enters Aries, a good focus for your meditations is responsibility. Can you think of areas you are overlooking as you aspire to your goals? Do you have backup plans in case one or two details don't work out? If you are working toward a goal, now is the time to get real about exactly how you feel about your situation. Saturn is typically called "the judge," and in old times was considered "malefic," or bad news. But Saturn gives gifts, if we can prove we've passed our tests. And Saturn knows when we're lying if we say we're happy and we're not. Saturn represents the test of the earth plane. It's like the flight test for the model airplane. Was your design workable? Good! If not, then what do you have to change to make it fly?

Condensed Ephemeris

The following celestial events occur between Oestara and Beltane this year. The following paragraphs list these events, and how you can work with the energies involved.

March 25
Full moon in Libra at 12:58 p.m. PST. Maintain physical and spiritual balance.
March 26
Pluto goes retrograde at 6:29 p.m. PST. If Pluto is moving through a sensitive area of your chart (particularly Sagittarians born around December 15, 16 or 17), be prepared to get rid of any garbage that might be littering your life. If you don't get rid of it first, Pluto will do it for you.
April 8
New Moon in Aries, 1:32 p.m. PDT. Initiate enterprising activities and encourage your competitive side. Launch any venture that can be called self-improvement.
April 15
Venus, the planet of riches enters Taurus, the sign she rules, at 1:37 p.m. Just in time for the tax-filing deadline!
April 19
The Sun enters Taurus at 4:37 p.m. PST. The focus moves from the pioneering Aries spirit ramming through all obstacles into Taurus, the bull protecting its pasture and guarding its herd. It's time to stop and smell the roses. Taurus is much less intense than Aries, and the focus turns to finances, possessions and values. The period when the Sun is in Taurus is also a good time to focus on contacting household spirits and on blessing your home and possessions. What do you value? Where do you spend your energy? Analyze your answers to these questions. If each question has a different response, then you have more homework to do. It's time to spend your energy doing things you value.
April 24
Full Moon in Scorpio, 3:06 a.m. PDT. This is a time to deal with financial issues, wills and any legal arrangements that involve money or assets.
May 5
The Sun reaches 15 degrees Taurus at 3:00 a.m. PDT. If you observe Beltane according to the astrological midpoint between the spring equinox and summer solstice, then this is the date to take note of. It marks the halfway point toward the summer solstice, traditionally a time to celebrate growth and pray for abundant crops and fertile livestock.

Planting Days

The general principles of planting by the Moon are these: Water and earth signs are good for growth and planting. Planting done between the New and Full Moon enhances growth. Between the Full and New Moons (waning Moon), focus your energy on weeding or on planting root crops such as potatoes or beets, whose growth is primarily below the ground.

Fire and air signs tend to be barren and when the Moon is in them it is a good time for weeding.

March 18, 19
Fertilize. Plant grains, leafy greens, annuals. Graft or prune plants.
March 27-29
Plant biennials, perennials, bulbs and roots.
April 1, 2
Plant potatoes and tubers.
April 3, 4
Weed and get rid of pests.
April 9-11
Plant annuals.
April 14-16
Plant grains, leafy greens, annuals. Prune for increased growth.
April 24, 25
Plant biennials, perennials, bulbs and roots.
April 26, 27
Weed and get rid of pests.
April 28, 29
Plant potatoes and tubers. Prune to slow growth, not to increase it.

I welcome feedback on these columns. If you have recommendations or suggestions for future columns, you can contact Anita at sylviafan@juno.com.


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