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The Hope of Atonement

Today is Yom Kippur. It is a day of reckoning, which is the most demanding form of love. This ceremony of atonement sprang from a time when the ancestors felt so abandoned by Gd that they began to worship false idols out of desperation. Thus a mystical ritual evolved in which sins of faithlessness—which at heart are all sins—were purified through repentance and fasting so that divine light might return.

Typically I avoid fasting, but this biblical practice seemed right for these biblical times. Thirsty and hungry, I spent the afternoon by the river praying and meditating. Atoning for how, over these last months of upheaval and unrest, I’ve abandoned myself and others—have shut down and obfuscated due to overwhelm.

By her banks I reflected on how, throughout history, my line–many lines–have survived times far harder than these by staying present and toiling hard. By keeping the faith. And so I asked the river to teach me to model her love—steadfast, strong, eternally flowing, beautifully boundaried. Tonight, after breaking fast, I will revisit her beneath the nearly full moon to wash away my remaining fear and faithlessness. To return my tears.

I do not expect to feel instantly saved. But I do expect to feel lighter. And I invite you to join me in the release of true reckoning in whatever way works for you. Because as long as we are still gifted with life, we are also gifted with divine light and love, and must meet it halfway. There is nothing more hopeful than that. G’mar chatima tova.

Art: Marc Chagall

Kadish for the Queen: RBG, 1933-2020

Ruth Bader Ginsberg did her very best–which is so much more than can be said of most people and was more than anyone ever could have asked, especially since she was likely far sicker for longer than she let on. What we did know was that she’d suffered through four bouts of cancer. That she’d done more for woman’s rights–for human rights–than anyone in American judicial history.

And that she worked until her death to preserve what was left of American democracy.

It hurts so much to think she probably died thinking she was failing us. These are the darkest times any of us can remember and I am only shored by the idea that she took leave now, on the good wind of a new year and a new moon, so her massive energetic force could be even more powerful from the other side. You may find such a notion magical thinking but practical magic is what we have left now.

According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began yesterday, is a tzadik, a person of great righteousness. Let the bleat of the shofar, the ram’s horn that announces the Jewish New Year, rouse us to speak for those with no voice. May Justice Ginsberg’s light and fortitude continue to guide us through these treacherous times, and may we honor her legacy today and every day of this new year.

The Bloodbath of Mars Retrograde

Chances are good this post finds you restless, sluggish, furious, and unfocused. This may stem from more than the harsh realities of Covid and Trump’s Reign. It also may be the effect of Mars Retrograde, which began yesterday and lasts until November 13. Like everything else in this unprecedented year, this retrograde offers an explosive crash course in what needs changing.

When a planet goes retrograde, our patterns in its realms come up to be healed by any means necessary. Mars– which rules ambition, desire, and action–in its shadow form translates into “us or them” survival instincts. Think toxic masculinity, greed, brutality, end-stage capitalism, and even a “death cult” mentality. Unmasked MAGA rallies, anyone? It also is associated with eruptions of all sorts–active volcanoes, disruptive weather patterns, and, oy, fires. The devastating forest fires on the West Coast, while clearly caused by climate change, are surging now for a reason.

On an individual level, it’s’ not a great time to launch a business, sexual relationship, or significant physical undertaking. We’re all unusually prone to procrastination, temper tantrums, and injuries—especially in the head and face. Cue dental and skin problems, as well as strokes and concussions. Best to keep it local on every level, minimize spending and exertion, breathe 10 times before posting or commenting. And rest. A lot.

This retrograde is taking place in Aries, which is all about self-assertion and forward motion, so passive-aggression will backfire like nobody’s business. The good news? We’re going to learn what we really want and release physical, erotic, and professional obstacles–not to mention improve our conflict and mood management. This is a good time to pay attention to dreams, do counseling, attend professional workshops, and pursue mindful exercise and masturbation. Get lots and lots of rest.

On a national level, it’s no coincidence–nothing is!–that the most important election in American history is happening now. Surprising absolutely no one, chances are slim that a victor will be announced until Mars goes direct in mid-November. Before then, we very well may experience cultural upheaval on the level of a Civil War.

This is very scary stuff. But in astrology as in life, good and bad always arrive in pairs. And so this time of unprecedented unrest may result in systemic corrections that have been overdue since our Founding Fathers robbed this land from First Nations and kidnapped African people to toil it.

This Mars Retrograde is going to show us new ways to progress–to rise rather than march blindly and brutally forward. But first, to quote filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson: “There will be blood.”

Readings during Mars Retrogrades are powerfully obstacle-clearing, especially when it comes to sexual and professional desires. Book one for yourself or a loved one.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy