Traditional Tibetan thangka showing the bhavacakra and six realms of Sa?s?ra in Buddhist cosmology

Sweets amidst the stresses

The weekly astrology outlook of Real Imaginal features the ongoing Venus-Jupiter conjunction (exact Jan. 22), who provides an excellent chance to expand our networks, find like-minded collaborators and explore new ways of celebrating love. The emissary of love, Venus meeting up with the expansive nature of Jupiter offers us an experience of hope, faith in love or an opening of the heart—a welcome burst of generosity and hopefulness that spans the rest of this week. And though Venus-Jupiter is typically a lovely quality, this radiant crown of loving energy may be sitting atop many things which are less than glorious. Saturn, Pluto, Mercury and the Sun have been in Capricorn for the lead up to Venus’ kiss with Jupiter, bringing a sense of heaviness to our thoughts, general outlook and attempts to connect with others on a mental level.

This could spur Venus-Jupiter to a more escapist expression, perhaps by avoiding engaging in the complexity of life and opting instead for judgmental Saturn-Pluto’s strangely feel-good “black-and-white, good-and-evil” perspective on the world. One way to bring the relief, joy and happiness of Venus-Jupiter in a constructive way is to connect with various sweetnesses of this life. For example, we might try setting an intention to connect with someone in a meaningful way, and drop our guard long enough to have a conversation with a stranger or a neighbor we haven’t yet spoken with. Or we might volunteer to help our community in some way.

Deception Basin in the Olympic Mountains, Hafiz poem "Even/ After/ All this time/ The Sun never says to the Earth,/ "You owe me."/ Look/ What happens/ With a love like that,/ It lights the whole sky."
…Venus-Jupiter in the sky… image by Joshua Halpern

Switching it up

Real Imaginal’s weekly astrology outlook also notes communicative Mercury’s stressful square aspect to eccentric Uranus (exact Jan. 23) that may bring a surprise twist to events. If we’ve been more in tune with Venus-Jupiter sweetness, some information bearing the seriousness or gravity of Saturn-Pluto may intrude upon our reveries. On the other hand, if we’ve been absorbed in the traumatizing energetics of Saturn-Pluto, Mercury may bring news of another aspect of life on Earth that is not so gloomy and doom-y. The sense that we are trudging up a seemingly insurmountable mountain of history may be interrupted by an experience of grace.

Is it worth it? Get creative!

Of course, the long and seemingly fruitless battle with history, karma or decaying institutions in part reflects the combative Mars’ square to complicating Saturn in the sky (active roughly Jan. 11 to Jan. 30), which can frustrate our attempts to get ahead. Perseverance is prescribed, and sincere dedication (Saturn) to our efforts (Mars) will force us to review a couple of things: is what we are trying to do worth it? is it something we actually, truly care about? are we able to think creatively about achieving our goals? While the first two are the ultimate filters on how we may choose to direct our energy, this last question could bring a real boon to our mission. Mars makes a supportive trine aspect to resourceful Jupiter (exact Jan. 25), bringing a gift of inspiration to think beyond whatever limitations we may be facing. The obstacles we face now may therefore prove to be great allies in finding a new method, logic, collaborator or iteration of our designs.

Curiosity incoming

Lastly, the mind of Mercury escapes the inertia of the major Capricorn stellium that has dominated the skies since the beginning of January, when they follow the Sun into Aquarius on Jan. 23. The incoming Aquarian influence can help us take a step back from enmeshment in the problematic and be more curious about the world around us. It can also take us a little too far away from emotional realities, so while we cook up the next theory of how-to-set-everything-free (a favorite Aquarian pastime), it’s a good idea to stay in touch with how our theory actually feels in our bodies…and what others may report to us about their lived experiences. It could actually be quite wonderful! Just tune into the total organism.

Erica Jones profile photo, Navarro River redwoods

This is just a general outlook on the week. To learn more about how the planets are affecting you personally, book an astrological consultation! And step into the realms of Soul to enlarge the conversation you are having with the worldWith Erica as your guide, cross the astrological bridge between heaven and Earth to transform liabilities into assets and cooperate with the energies and forces presently shaping your life. You can also get in touch at erica at realimaginal dot com!

2019 RETREATS  :::  SAVE THE DATE! I am excited to share that astrologer Renn Butler and I are offering another holotropic breathwork + archetypal astrology + dreamwork retreat July 28 – August 4, 2019!  Watch this space for more details!

The sun sets on 2018 :: image by Joshua Halpern :::

The Sun sets on the final week of the Gregorian calendar year by cruising through early Capricorn, advancing one degree per day towards stern Saturn, mysterious Pluto and the eclipsing South Node, who are now all in Capricorn. The Sun in Capricorn (Dec. 21 – Jan. 20) provides a fine energy for plotting the new year ahead, identifying important goals, being realistic about obstacles (so you can find a way through them!) and reflecting on how to offer the gift of your being to this world. Socialite Venus makes a sextile to obsessive Pluto (exact. Dec. 28), adding some extra energy to whatever Venus’ recently completed retrograde brought up in your intimate, social and collegial spheres. Venus is still in Scorpio, which has us probing loyalties and questioning trust. Without a little distance and perspective, we could be reading “the worst case scenario” into events or relationships that really just need more time or more information to reveal the truth of themselves.

With combative Mars conjoining sensitive Chiron (exact Dec. 28), taking steps towards resolving disputes, clearing the air of misunderstanding or negotiating intimacy with others could be hampered by poor boundaries. We may have to go against expectations, assert ourselves with people in ways we never have before, and generally stand up for ourselves when it feels awkward to do so. Any pent-up anger (which may have already evolved into resentment) could come out with a bit of a surprise because the lid just can’t hold it in any more. On the other hand, expressing one’s desires to someone may also be inhibited by ancient past pains that really have nothing to do with the present…though they are very alive as you make the effort to reach out for what you want. Take it slow, breathe deeply and practice patience with yourself. Whatever has waited 100 years to express itself will not be improved by speeding the process up by a few days.

Tall Valley of Firs in the winter sunlight

Impulsive Mars conjoins Chiron on his way to entering the headstrong sign of Aries on Dec. 31. After six weeks of swimming through the deep tides of Pisces, Mars is in his home sign where he functions well. At least until Mars forms a challenging square with authoritarian Saturn in about two weeks, our efforts to initiate projects, take decisions and move ahead with plans will be supported by this influence. It is a good use of Mars’ time with Chiron this week to examine what limiting beliefs you may have around pursuing what you want and what is standing in your way. Then when Mars meets Saturn, you’ll be in a better position to work in your own interests and address obstacles or limitations constructively instead of trying to fight a losing battle—whether with yourself or someone else!

The astrological weather for New Year’s Eve Dec. 31, 2018 looks like an interesting mix of the somber and relatively quiet mood of a Sun-Saturn conjunction plus an appetite for the impulsive. The few days around the Sun-Saturn conjunction (exact Jan. 1) may bring to light some of the mistakes we have recently made or loose ends which need to be suddenly tied up. This may or may not interfere with the mood to celebrate, depending on how much we are responsible for and what all is depending on you. The Moon in Scorpio is a rather spicy placement for social, group activities and on the one hand, slumming it may feel glamorous while on the other hand, ordinarily familiar locations may take on an air of mystery or even danger. The Scorpio Moon also makes an exact sesquisquare to thrill-seeking Mars in the hours leading up to midnight which could mean a sudden change of plans, an encounter with rudeness, an urge to challenge authority and/or some very enthusiastic and fun dancing!

Let’s take care of each other out there and I look forward to seeing you in 2019!

Step into the realms of Soul and enlarge the conversation you are having with the world through an astrological consultation. With Erica as your guide, cross the astrological bridge between heaven and Earth to transform liabilities into assets and cooperate with the energies and forces presently shaping your life. Get in touch at erica at realimaginal dot com!

2019 RETREATS   I am excited to share that astrologer Renn Butler and I will be offering another holotropic breathwork + archetypal astrology + dreamwork retreat in summer 2019!  Watch this space for more details and to save the date!

We begin this week with retrograde Mercury backing up into the Mars-Saturn conjunction that largely dominates the skies, making a stressful square aspect (exact on Apr. 3). This could portend some “interesting” conversations in which old grievances are aired, disputes are settled (at least in one person’s mind) or communication completely breaks down. The Moon will be cruising through Scorpio from Apr. 1 to Apr. 3, which suggests a rawness to feelings, and the need to grapple with issues of trust and emotional safety as well as negotiating a complicated relationship to intuition. It may be necessary to let go of a dearly treasured object—whether that is a belief, a way of thinking about things, a material item or even a person—as what seemed like a sure win turns into a losing proposition, due to unknown or hidden rules to the game just coming to light. The Moon’s entry into Sagittarius late in the evening of Apr. 3 (US/Pacific time) may lighten the mood somewhat and allow for new horizons to appear as you orient to changes and take stock of your situation.

Still, the Mars-Saturn conjunction active through the rest of this week can indicate increased levels of frustration, inhibited action, or loads and loads of work, stress or worry. Since these two are in Saturn’s home sign of Capricorn, strategically submitting to the amount of work which must be done can produce results. A lot could be accomplished, if you’re willing to make a few sacrifices along the way. The sincere pursuit of devotion or dedication to a task is indicated, and those who are not laser focused on what they personally desire and what they’re willing to be devoted to may find themselves being pushed around by others’ goals and desires. And even then, having your own goal (Mars) will not necessarily grant immunity from challenge or failure, should that goal run counter to the workings of necessity, time, destiny or karma (Saturn). Perhaps one of the more frustrating features of Mars-Saturn can be its demand for patience and tenacity precisely when it is in short supply.  (In case you missed it, here is a link to last week’s post A prayer for Mars-Saturn.)

The short version of Mars-Saturn: don’t forget to stop and breathe this week.

Because Venus is now in Taurus! Venus entered her home sign of Taurus on Mar. 30 and offers us an opportunity to turn our faces towards beauty, and to draw it up through our roots and into our bodies. Try beautifying your surroundings with flowers, art or sensually pleasing objects, things which will bring a little earthy Venus into your environment. Massage, spa or sauna and spending time in a favorite spot outdoors can also be of extra comfort. Offer yourself delicious, nourishing food (and yeah, your favorite sweets can go a long way, too.) Pamper and tend to your vagus nerve, which mediates the “fight, flight or freeze” response! All of these things could help soften the sharp edges of Mars-Saturn and, in the case of beautifying your surroundings, serve as a pneumonic (memory) device to help you remember to stop and just breathe every now and again. Trying to power through when you have truly run out of steam can just cause more frustration and delay as you have to go back over what you thought you finished and redo it (something fitting with Mercury retrograde). Lastly, taking some time to connect with the beauty of this world can also soften the blow of any hard or “interesting” conversations happening this week.

Venus will make a harmonious trine aspect to the Mars-Saturn conjunction this week, touching Saturn first (exact on Apr. 7). Tending to the vagus nerve and caring for your nervous system as much as possible, as well as stopping to just breathe and take in whatever can nourish your sense of wholeness will not be in service of denying the reality of what is going on. But Venus is offering the chance of a blessing, a bright side to what may be otherwise just frustrating or a slog. She is suggesting that a real reward will come at the end of well-discerned, strategic efforts. Just beware of fighting karma, destiny or fate, or trying to turn back time. The Uranus square Pluto alignment that is saturating this decade is insisting on a break with the past, and profound if at times disturbing or unexpected changes.

Turning our gaze towards the heavens: For you early birds and day sleepers, Apr. 7 features the Moon, Mars and Saturn in a conjunction in the pre-dawn sky. Look for the crescent Moon, waning towards its next conjunction with the Sun on Apr. 15, and find a medium-bright white star—Saturn—and a very bright orange star—Mars—hovering quite close.


Step into the realms of Soul and enlarge the conversation you are having with the world through an astrological consultation. With Erica as your guide, cross the astrological bridge between heaven and Earth to transform liabilities into assets and cooperate with the energies and forces presently shaping your life. Get in touch at erica at realimaginal dot com!

SATURN RETURN SPECIAL    In honor of the generation born roughly 30 years ago with a Saturn-Uranus-Neptune conjunction in Capricorn, I am offering everyone with natal Saturn placed from 25° Sagittarius to 29° Capricorn ~ roughly those born Jan. 1929 – Nov. 1932; Mar. 1958 – Jan. 1962; and Dec. 1987 – Feb. 1991 ~ a special Saturn return reading at the following reduced rates for a limited time only:

Returning clients
$65 for 60 minutes
$35 for 30 minutes

New clients
$75 for 60 minutes
$40 for 30 minutes

In the sky this week we have Mars conjunct Saturn. Mars came within 6° of conjoining Saturn on March 21 and as one of my teachers advised, I have observed that correlations to Mars transits will often appear as much as 6° in advance of exact aspect. Perhaps this is reflective of the Mars quality of acting quickly, coming on fast and strong and then fading out fast at about 3° following the exact aspect, having spent its energy in a flash. Mars will leave 3° of conjoining Saturn on April 8.

The Mars-Saturn archetypal combination can get a lot of bad press and not without reason. When the principle of GO! (Mars) hits the principle of NO! (Saturn), it can reliably produce frustration, unwanted delays, conflict and clashing wills. Without denying the problematics of Mars-Saturn, we might also offer up a prayer to this combination that features prominently in the Libra Full Moon of 2018 happening March 31, 2018 at 5:36am US/Pacific. Mars-Saturn forms a T-square with the Sun opposite Moon, which means the Mars-Saturn conjunction will be forming difficult square aspects to both the Moon and the Sun, creating a dynamic conversation between the past and the future, the unconscious and the conscious, the collective and the individual, the instinctual or habitual animal self and the egoic sense of who one wants to be.

Mars-Saturn in this highly energetic position can force buried conflict out into the light of day or reflect a breakthrough/crisis in communication, and it can also be harnessed to higher aspirations while allowing for our all too human foibles to be present. Mars-Saturn in particular might remind us that no one person has total, conscious control over their lives or their circumstances, but that delays can also bring unexpected or more fulfilling gratification if our conscious will could submit to the workings of karma or necessity or time. As much as this combination suggests separation, alienation or oppression, in the presence of compassion – first of all for oneself – it can also indicate playing a role in a story much greater than oneself. This may not feel or sound very satisfactory to the one who clings to the experience of being an individual and it’s true that Mars-Saturn lessons and correlations can feel or be quite punishing…and no amount of embracing the mystery of life can erase that truth. Perhaps then the challenge may be finding a way to include the difficult, the unpleasant and the downright objectionable in the truth of “what is,” so as to better cooperate with movement towards the good and the alleviation of unnecessary suffering.

2018 Libra Full Moon

A prayer for Mars-Saturn

May I find the wisdom of restraint. May I taste the self-sown fruits of self-discipline. Patience, endurance, fortitude be mine in understanding that I am playing a role in a very long game. Mars-Saturn, help me to overcome the foolish pride and egotism that gives me no end of sorrow.

May I know humility, being so humble as to belong to the greater whole—to know how to be of service to self and to other. Might I master the energy of yang, or assertion.

I will invoke you in the name of protection, reaching out and requesting connection rather than defending or attacking or being wrongly aggressive.

Mars-Saturn: You are the discipline of passion. May you represent the maturation of the advocate, of the one who wants to change the world—may I realize that the world is in fact here to change me first, but that the Great Work of forging the self is my own responsibility to undertake. Teach me how to toil in the furnace of the Soul, to stick with this Great Work and to see it through to the death and into the death.

Passionate service, be mine! May I show devotion in love. May I commit to a conscious refusal to fight, and instead choose to find means of constructive engagement with conflict.

May I have the wisdom to understand—or to let go of the need to understand—enough to submit my will to the will of love, that Mars-Saturn may represent the confluence of dedication, destiny, karma—AND desire. That what I want also correspond to staying on the spiritual path.

May I let go of the illusion of perfection so as to cooperate with the potential, with the possible, with the creative….that all beings everywhere, in all directions of time and of space may without exception benefit.

And so it is.


The following poem is dedicated to the memory, life and work of Christina Grof

O is it true?
If action means karma
is dharma its completion?
How many actions my inheritance?
Is history my undoing?

I see
ancestral tides pulling me up
out of myself
Much as the Moon massages the sides of Earth
drawing wide swaths of water and rocky flesh skyward
in her ceaseless rotations
yielding generations of ancestors for eons’ gestation

I cannot count the actions giving rise to me
Though I am called to their completion
my destiny to belong to this eternity
in body
though I seem to perish and pass away to dust
some strange dharma erupts
from a distant future wed to the past

understood by the Moon, patient midwife
massaging the sides of Earth
spurring actions upon actions
in an endless giving birth

Though a few days delayed to readers of Real Imaginal – thank you Mercury retrograde – this week’s astrological forecast has been written for the plant-wise Anima Mundi Apothecary newsletter!

Check out the section in the newsletter just below the forecast, featuring Anima Mundi’s recommendations of herbs to balance out Mercury and various plant allies to assist with its challenges.

Once a month, the week’s astrological forecast will go out in Anima Mundi’s newsletter along with their herbal tips, DIY preparations and information.  In the meantime, be sure to investigate all that Anima Mundi Apothecary has concocted in conspiracy with the plants’ desire to heal us!


Click here for a look at the astrology of the week of March 27 – April 2, 2018