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I've  been in full-time professional practice since my 20's, consulting with individuals, businesses, and entrepreneurs, teaching, writing on Experiential Astrology...

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Tuesday
Aug022011

In Love with the Night Sky

By Barbara Schermer

As long as I can remember I have been in love with the night sky.

My only memory of my Dutch-speaking grandmother Adolphine is her warning to me: “Pass op… Pass op!” she would say—watch out where you are going! Even as a toddler I was constantly in danger of tripping and falling because my eyes were always looking up

They still do. The stars and planets have continued to draw me upward in a profoundly spiritual way. From a young age I came to know that organic life and the land’s harvest are strongly influenced by the moon’s phases. My grandfather, Cornelius, made his living by the Moon. He grew vegetables and flowers, which he delivered every morning by horse and wagon to the Fulton Street market on the South side of Chicago. When visiting him on Sundays I would tag along behind this kindhearted man as he worked along the furrows.

Grandpa swore by his trusted Farmer’s Almanac, a dogged-eared copy he kept hanging in the garden shed. He set out his tomato seedlings and his beloved Dahlias at the first quarter moon, sowed root vegetables during the waning moon, and planted his water-thirsty melons when the moon was in the water signs.

There is no word but “starstruck” to describe how I felt when I saw my first truly starry sky. I was ten when my family took a summer vacation to Saugatuck Michigan. A friend of the family, an astronomer from the University of Michigan, took us out to the beach to show us the summer constellations. I remember feeling a sense of delight when I learned that, moving above me, was the summer triangle of bright Vega, Aquila (the Eagle), and Deneb in the tail of the Swan Constellation who is forever flying south along the Milky Way. The idea that a swan flew over my head every summer—that the constellations proceded in orderly fashion across the sky with a consistent and reassuring rhythm—gave me an inexplicable sense of comfort.

I was California-bound after graduating from college. In San Francisco I met new friends in who soon revealed they were passionate about astrology.  At parties they would stop speaking English and break into what to me sounded like a foreign language. “Well, your Mars made a trine to your Venus so, what did you expect?” Or, “Remember, Mercury goes retrograde on Friday so don’t buy that car yet.” I hadn’t a clue about these apparently meaningful exchanges. Astrology seemed like a secret language, yet one that had an intelligence that resonated in me. I was intrigued,  so, like many of us stargazers, I began to gain knowledge of astrology by studying my own birth chart. 

I learned that the ten planets, besides being bodies in the sky, are universal powers that exist in each of us—what depth-psychologists call archetypes, or universal principles—and that each planet travels through twelve signs and expresses itself differently in each, much as an actor shows different qualities when playing different characters. I learned also of the major planetary aspects, the energy dynamics that govern the relationships among planets as inner characters.

I closely watched transits, current planet positions in relationship to those of a birth chart, and found the symbolic meanings persuasive. I was especially impressed that so many astrologers warned John Kennedy against traveling to Dallas. As astrology revealed its mysteries, my ten year old sense of stellar awe quickened, and I have been a passionate practicing astrologer ever since. 

As a society, we have lost track of our cosmic connections, what our forbearers knew from their living daily experience with the natural world. Our ancestors had an intimate relationship to the night sky, and their contemplation of the heavens was a vital, primal communion that brought meaning to life. 

In fact, our ancestors very survival depended on someone having this star knowledge. In your own ancestral line there is a high likelihood that a member of your tribal family was an astrologer, priest or shaman who observed the heavens closely and knew when to successfully plant and harvest the crops that kept your community alive.

It’s a pity that most of us are cocooned in cities and that the streetlights keep us unaware of the wonder above us. Google the phrase “light pollution map” and you’ll see that Chicago, where I have lived for years, is one of the most densely light-polluted locations on the planet. 

I love Chicago though, especially in the fall, when the trees have shaken off their leaves. I then get my first clear glimpse of Orion the winter “marker” constellation in the northern hemisphere and the brightest constellation in the heavens. On a clear night you can find Orion, called “the Hunter,” by looking for the three diagonal stars that mark his sword belt. If you look down just below his belt you will see three tiny stars aligned beneath. We can imagine they make up his sword. A close look will reveal one that is not sharp like a star, but fuzzy. You are seeing the Great Orion Nebula, a stellar nursery, one of the most prolific generators of new stars that we know.

Chicago in winter is less congenial to stargazing. So, for the last eleven years, I have spent weeks and then months in Mexico—at first at Rio Caliente spa in Mexico, an hour’s drive from Guadalajara, and now, with my husband Bob at our home  on Lake Chapala.

I remember my many days and nights at Rio Caliente with deep affection. The spa (now closed for business—we hope for its return) rests in a 15,000 acre National Forest, surrounded on three sides by a river of volcanic lithium waters that feeds the blue-tiled pools. Days were a delight there, but my favorite times were at early dawn, between 3 and 5 am, while everyone else was sleeping. I would walk down to the pools in their private grove of high palms and flowering bougainvilleas—faded in the semidarkness from their daytime pink, white, and orange. I slipped into the steaming water carrying three plastic “noodles.” I put one under my neck to support my head and two under my knees to give my body buoyancy. 

Then I just floated, suspended between heaven and Earth, among my familiars—Scorpio and its red supergiant star Antares, just risen, with Sagittarius not far behind, bringing the Teapot for morning tea, his arrow pointed toward the Galactic Center. Libra and Ophiucus and their attendant stars were already risen, Leo with Regulus and Virgo with Spica having nearly finished their passage across the sky. Again, I just floated, in touch with the ten-year-old who imagined herself hugging the Swan and gliding along the flowing river of the Milky Way. 

That night sky is part of what brought me to Mexico to stay. While I no longer see it from the pools of Rio Caliente, most nights I can just step out onto myterraza, and look up to re-engage my childhood companions, my lifelong friends. 

Tuesday
Jul052011

Drawing Down the Divine: Astrological Magic and the Intention Beads

Throughout Western history ritual and astrology have been intimately connected. Good magicians (alchemists) had to be good astrologers or their experiment would fail.

Magic and astrology were “allied arts” in the Renaissance era. Forerunners to modern chemistry, alchemists were involved in an effort to pursue “the art of changing consciousness at will.” At a superficial level, alchemists worked to be able to change lead into gold. In reality their practices were much more directed toward an inner spiritual process in which the dense and grosser states of consciousness were transformed into the higher, more subtle and sublime spiritual states.

Ritual magic, alchemy and astrology rest on one principle: that man is the microcosm of the universe, “man is the great miracle whose mind is divine, of like nature with the star governors of the universe” Giordano Bruno. Commonly expressed as “As above, So below,” this statement reflects the understanding that behind all external phenomena lies a totality—one interconnected, interdependent whole which is sensitive and responsive to the movement of its parts. We recognize that the world is a symbol whose ordering is meaningful only as it represents a deeper, more profound aspect of our consciousness. The visible universe is, to some extent, a projection of the human psyche that is perceiving it. We can know the forces within and they can be called forth.

Intention beads are an experiment in astrological magic. Sandy Rueve (bead maker) and I are offering to partner with you- for me to help you determine your deepest intention and to find the most auspicious time. Sandy then uses her creativity to make your bracelet (talisman) and you then focus your awareness and concentration on your intention. My own experience has confirmed that, properly use, they can “make things happen.”—Barbara.

Friday
Jul012011

What to Do on the New Moon, 7/1–7/16

New Moon (Solar Eclipse) began July 1. Use this auspicious two-week period to focus on your emotional life and health. Recommendations: process and release emotional wounds, purify through detoxification (body scrubs, colonics, saunas, tears), make love and explore intimate feelings, get pregnant if you wish, develop your intuition by paying attention to symbols and above all, listen to your inner self and the messages of your dreams.—Barbara.

Friday
Jun032011

Back From a Magical Mystery Tour

 

I am just back from an inspiring trip to Chicago, part of the time spent “off the grid” at a cabin in the woods in northern Indiana—with a wood burning stove, a comfy bed and deer coming to graze in the evening. Oh, did you know that when you sign your initials on a rental car agreement you are saying you will not go off road? Well the car I rented, a red Impala, got stuck in the mud back in the woods between two hills. With much spinning and lurching and rocking it was still impossible to move. I think some of us now feel just like this—spinning our wheels without much feeling of control. I left the car parked there for two days, waiting for the rains to stop. When the path was finally dry I drove it out, dried mud thick in the undercarriage and definitely worse for wear. Sometimes, when we try so hard and get precisely nowhere, wisdom says to just wait, let the conditions change and then we can gain traction and move forward.

At my Cosmic Trends presentation at Allyu spa, nearly two-thirds of those attending had experienced “one door of their life closing and another one opening” over the last few months. Between January 23, 2011 and August 30, 2011, we all have had, and will continue to have, the opportunity to end situations or relationships with people who make our lives more difficult. (You can read more about this collective planetary influence in my previous post about Saturn opposite Jupiter and receive my recommendations on how to make best use of these remarkably dynamic times.)

A day later at another speaking engagement, “Small Wonders,“ at the Dailey Method, I got to talk to moms about their newborns and toddlers. The children ranged in age from 5 years down to two weeks old. Two of the babies, one born February 5 and one on February 27, have birth charts with five or six planets in Aquarius! In fact all children born since the winter solstice (December 21, 2010) have a pile up of planets in their birth charts—from Capricorn to Aquarius to Pisces to Aries—and now to Taurus and Gemini. It is worth another blog post to share insights about the special beings coming into the world now and what their evolutionary spiritual purpose might be. Be on the lookout for it.

The best experience of my trip? Starting a new project in partnership with one of my clients, Sandy Rueve, a millefiore-style clay bead maker and owner of “She Beads” in Chicago. Together we introduced Personal Intention Beads, at Sandy’s store on Chicago’s North Shore, with an event that drew 40 guests, to whom we gave a short presentation on our new collaboration. (See Sandy’s brief “Intention Beads” video on YouTube.) Sandy makes many stunning bracelets, but a Personal Intention Bracelet is even more special—a hand rolled, one-of-a-kind, multicolored clay bracelet created by Sandy at the precise time that corresponds specifically to our client’s personal intention. In essence we are creating a talisman with and for the client.  A talisman is an object “empowered and made sacred.” They are ancient and were especially resurgent during the Italian Renaissance as a tool to “change consciousness at will.” They are magical.

My role is to have a short phone session with our mutual client (with their birth chart in front of me) to help them define a unique intention. With their clear and potent statement of intent and their birth chart as my guide, I find the most auspicious time for Sandy to make the bracelet. The resulting “electional chart,” in astrology terms, depicts all the forces operating when initiating a particular action. Sandy picks up from here and makes the bracelet at the appointed time.

The stories from our first Intention Bead clients have been so much fun. The first woman’s intention was to become “more creative and inspired.” She picked up her bracelet, went to off to see her beautician, and in the course of a conversation was spontaneously told, “Oh, you are so creative and inspiring!” She left there for a church function, where she made centerpieces for the tables. The first two guests to arrive took one look at the displays and exclaimed, “Wow, you are really creative!” As you can see, magic works!

I set my own intention today, on the Solar Eclipse (New Moon in Gemini). Sandy is making my own Personal Intention Bracelet on my birthday in June. I have made talismans myself in the past and even taught others how to make them, but never with a sacred object as beautiful as these are. It will be such a pleasure to wear. If you are interested, post a comment to me and I will tell you more about them. Or go to sbstore.com and select “Intention Beads” on the menu. Welcome magic and beauty into your life.—Barbara.

Thursday
May052011

Jumping off the Seesaw of Jupiter and Saturn

 

By Barbara Schermer

“ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (Think primal scream.) ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. There. Whew. Better now.” That’s a post from my friend Megan I just read on FaceBook.

Megan sums up what life feels like now for many of us. Overloaded, overwhelmed and exhausted, we feel like life is just too hard!  Over the last 8– 12 weeks, one particular cosmic signature has been intense—the planet Saturn (now seen in the evening sky) in the astrological sign of Libra is literally opposite the planet Jupiter in Aries (no longer visible as it is too close to the bright sun.)

Many are at a “karmic pivot-point” in their lives, making important—even crucial—life decisions and choices. Saturn, on the one hand lets us know we can no longer support old repressive patterns, habitual behaviors, and dysfunctional attitudes within ourselves, in our intimate relationships and families, or in the larger world. We’re Fed Up, just like Megan.

Ask yourself, “What is demanding change in my life? What relationships do I need to leave?” Difficult relationships or situations that you end now (or are ended for you) will likely be out of your life permanently. The End. Goodbye and good riddance. This is what Saturn in Libra promises: that we must intentionally close the door on what no longer serves us.

Jupiter, On the other hand, is helping us now to sense that a new door is opening, leading to heightened perspectives, new options and possibilities. Do you feel a renewed spirit and a new life phase is beginning? Keep watch—it may be coming soon.

This process began on January 23, 2011, was at its peak of intense activation the last two weeks of March (exact on March 24), and all of April, and it continues through August 24, 2011. This is when the energy of the planet Saturn finally passes the critical opposition point to Jupiter and begins to dissipate.

Here are some true-life examples of what others are experiencing:

One client left her 60-hour a week marketing job in which she was worked to the bone (60 hour work weeks) and was totally unappreciated. Her job was to ready this corporation to go public. At first she felt lost and frightened for her future (Saturn). It turned out this was a lucky break (Jupiter), as that company is currently being investigated for fraud by the US government. So what may have first appeared to be a setback may indeed prove to be a godsend.

In another example, my friend, hearing that her dad was diagnosed with advanced cancer, gathered her whole family (including 11 great grandchildren!) from all points of the compass to see him, probably for the last time. He was at the family gathering for all of 12 hours when he was called back to New York by a “family emergency,” which turned out to be a power play by another family member. Anger and disappointment reigned (Saturn) over the weekend. But also over that time, the at-first shaken adults realized that they had at last convened with the younger generation of their family—some were meeting for the first time—and that the roughhousing and tomfoolery together on the beach was joyful (Jupiter) and worth the bad beginning.

And for myself—my kind and devoted mom passed away on Palm Sunday. The last 8 weeks of my life and hers had been like an emotional see saw with her health oscillating from improvement to decline. A “successful surgery” yielded to a rapid decline; her vital systems slowly began shutting down. Despair. Hope. Death. Relief. Saturn opposite Jupiter. Real life.

So what is the prescription for dealing with the stress these dueling planetary giants now bring? How do you find balance in the currently intense and wacky world, both within and without?

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