How Do You Pronounce “Uranus”?

Sir William Herschel
William Herschel

This seventh solar-system planet almost two trillion miles from our sun was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel, a German-born astronomer living in England. He named it “Georgius Sidum,” or “George’s Star” to honor British king George the Third. From the beginning there was trouble with its name. The French didn’t like George the Third and preferred to call the new planet “Herschel.” It was 1850 before astronomers worldwide agreed to name it “Uranus.” They had no idea they were creating another problem. It’s a small problem, but a vexing one for astrologers and horoscope fans.

In today’s highly sexualized society, full of sexual innuendo but with taboos against discussing it, pronouncing Uranus as “your-anus” causes embarrassment or snickering. The snicker factor keeps some from mentioning or discussing this planet, which is just as important as any other. In astrology it’s the planet of rebellion and revolution, of sudden changes, and of earthly phenomena such as earthquakes and electricity. It’s the planet of surprises, pleasant ones and not. It should be treated with respect. But how, when it’s unsettling to say its name?

Alternatives abound. I’ve heard astrologers pronounce this planet’s name as:

  • YOU-rah-nus
  • you-RAH-nus
  • OO-rah-nus
  • oo-RAY-nus

Or they rename it entirely:

  • Urania
  • Herschel
  • Caelus (now, how do you pronounce that? SEE-lus, KAY-lus, or KY-loose?)

Some astrologers simply plow through and say “your-anus” hoping everyone in the room is too mature to laugh. An online teacher’s manual discusses how to handle the name when teaching the solar system to classrooms full of kids. Basically you use it only once or twice at first to get them used to it.

The name “Uranus” honors the ancient Greek sky god, whose name was spelled “Ouranos,” pronounced “OO-rah-noss” according to Webster’s dictionary. Also pronounced “oo-RAN-os.” Mythology says Uranus mated with Gaea, the earth, and produced Cronus, or time. Cronus fathered Zeus, Athena, and most of the other, more familiar, Greek gods. The Romans honored this same set of gods, but Latinized their names. Because Latin was the language of Rome and of Western science, today we have Roman names for the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Uranus is the only planet with a Greek name.

Some astrologers think using the ancient Greek pronunciation brings us closer to the wisdom and symbolism embedded in that culture and their myths. Others choose this pronunciation because it’s “the original,” which must therefore be the best. It also feels really cool to speak ancient Greek, and incidentally lets them avoid saying “your-anus.”

According to NASA, the correct pronunciation is “YOU-rah-nus,” accented on the first syllable. If that sounds a lot like the word “urine,” it’s supposed to. As the sky god, Uranus was also the god of rain.

Among the alternative names, “Urania” is way off base, an unacceptable name because Urania is one of Zeus’s daughters, the Muse of astronomy.

“Herschel” wasn’t chosen because it’s the name of a man, not a god. The astronomers who selected “Uranus” wanted a name consistent with the other planets. They wisely chose easy-to-say Roman names for the planets discovered after Uranus: Neptune (in 1846), and Pluto (1930).

The last candidate, “Caelus,” is the Roman name for the Greek Ouranos. In both cultures he was honored as the grandfather of the gods. Giving Ouranos his Latin name, Caelus, brings him into line with the Roman names of all the other planets. But hardly anybody knows the name “Caelus,” and few astrologers use it.

Ultimately, both American and British dictionaries today say that both “your-A-nus” or “YOO-ra-nus” are correct.

Psychic Readings: A Guide to Getting Better Predictions

At one time, diviners such as psychics or astrologers were called “advisers,” and that’s a more accurate picture of what psychic readings give you—advice, also called guidance. As with weathercasters, stockbrokers, or doctors, there are hundreds of differing approaches and instruments for forecasting, and hundreds of different people you might consult.

Just as the TV weathercaster isn’t always right, diviners aren’t always right. Considering that forecasters of all kinds work with the mysteries of time, space, nature, society, and human free will, if two years ago an astrologer said you’d marry a Taurus in 2016 and you haven’t, disappointment is natural, but not a reason to scoff at all astrology. You might simply need to change the channel.

Have you made a truly informed and decisive choice to consult the diviner and divination method best for you? Or do you skim a nameless free daily Twitter-length Sun-sign horoscope and wonder why most times it describes a day nothing like the one you’re having? Or have you had, in your whole life, one five-minute psychic reading, long ago, from a stranger? Or use a dream dictionary that gives generic dream interpretations?

Not all advisers are created equal! If forecasts aren’t hitting the mark, it’s time to shop around for another adviser. It’s some of the most important shopping you will ever do.

Here’s your wish list:

1) Experience

The longer a diviner has been in business, the better. Not all diviners are old, warty women or shaggy old men, but good ones are almost always older, because older is wiser. When looking into the unknown, it’s best to have an experienced guide.

2) Followers

Certain diviners win fans and clients not for 100 percent accuracy—because even gifted diviners have off-days—but because they’re consistently good, truthful, and helpful. Avoid any diviner whom you suspect of sugar-coating the truth and telling you only what you want to hear. The best advertisement for a diviner is a personal, word-of-mouth reference from someone known to you. Online testimonials, often fabricated, can be misleading.

3) Professionalism

We all like free psychic readings, and online horoscopes and oracles might satisfy you, but a paid psychic reading will be customized, uniquely for you, and detailed. For example, a customized natal horoscope chart with a 35-page interpretation will save you the time it takes to google the answers to hundreds of questions: Where’s your natal Venus? In Capricorn? What does that mean? Venus is in House 5? What does that mean? Having professional answers can be worth the price. Consider it a treat for yourself. If a professional psychic reading is printed out or otherwise recorded, you will never have to have that same psychic reading done again.

4) Personality

You should like your diviner. Maybe he sounds educated and intense, or she’s warm and friendly. Or maybe he’s friendly but vague, or has a cute accent but talks too fast. Decide what type you click with, and hop around until you feel trust and security.

Many “personalities” on the Internet offer “free online psychic readings,” very long, vague, general (“Love is important to you”) and repetitive texts using your name 10 or 20 times, saying you are special. These “readings” are in fact generic, robotic advertisements trying to flatter you into buying a second psychic reading so you can have your lucky numbers or more detailed information, and then a third psychic reading, and so on. Real diviners never withhold important information, and never barrage you with emails.

5) Humility

If you see “100 percent proven psychic,” or “I guarantee to get your ex back”—well, no fortuneteller, like no weathercaster, can offer any such guarantee. Diviners are obligated to do their best for you. Yet astrologers might have the correct chart, or Tarot readers the right cards, but not interpret them correctly. Spiritual connections fade in and out or can be interrupted. In rare cases, diviners cannot see what’s ahead because the Almighty denies them access; it happens. And not every question has an answer.

Good readers will tell you what they cannot predict, or what seems unclear. They will also reveal the positives and negatives of what they see, advise you how to handle the negative, and remind you that your future is not preordained. Because you have a free, independent will, through your own actions or inaction you can change your future. Going out this Friday night instead of sitting home might net you that special Taurus who is the one.

Star Gazing

Astrology: Mars in Retrograde – Come Out and Play

Until June 29, 2016, the planet Mars will be in retrograde motion, and some astrologers warn against “rash actions” and others against “laziness” while the red planet backs up through Sagittarius and Scorpio. Well, rash actions and laziness aren’t optimal no matter what Mars is doing. So the retrograde must have another meaning.


All planetary retrogrades ask us to stop for a moment and assess where we are, and correct our paths if they aren’t leading to fulfillment and joy. During retrogrades the character of the retrograde planet changes, becomes more edgy and rebellious. Mars in retrograde is the cool guy with the leather jacket and motorbike, grinning, daring you, because he knows you’re more exciting than you look.

A Mars retrograde period occurs about every two and a half years, and this six-week retrograde occurs in Sagittarius, the sign governing education and travel. Sagittarius is an energetic, inventive, sporty, social, philosophical sign. It’s the sign of optimism, fun, and entertainment, but the Sagittarian spirit is not flighty. It has a well-built foundation of self-confidence. The Sagittarius dark side: cravings, especially for attention; workaholism, fanaticism, vanity, and drama.

Mars, planet of masculinity, aggression, rebellion, and action, harmonizes with the Sagittarian desire to get up and get moving. Sagittarius is a fire sign, and Mars is the fiery planet, so under the Mars retrograde influence drive carefully, don’t pick fights, and do as the boss says. But with fire in the sky, maybe you’re realizing how tired you are of routine. Under this transit, if life’s been dull, aim to be as spirited and bold as you used to be!

This retrograde will put ideas into your head. Suddenly everyday life inside of four walls is not enough. Your reliable, paid-off car suddenly looks nine years old and it’s time to find a newer one. You’ll long to meet new people who share your interests. Mars in retrograde is a great time to:

  • Page through travel catalogues, book a vacation, search online for air and hotel deals at a place you’ve always wanted to go. Mars turning direct late in June will likely free up some money for this.
  • Attend a class or a meet-up, or go to a talk or conference on a topic that interests you intensely.
  • Obtain tickets to a concert, play, or other special arts event you’d never otherwise go to.
  • Try a new activity. Ever try archery, bowling, yoga, or martial arts? After a good warmup (essential under Mars retrograde), go for it. It needn’t cost you a fortune. Under Mars retrograde you can often find coupons and deals for free lessons and sessions.
  • Under Mars retrograde you probably won’t find Mister or Ms. Right, but take that pressure off and just have fun meeting people and socializing.
  • Sagittarius the archer is always aiming his bow forward, into the future. With Mars in retrograde, have one last mope about the injustices done to you, and then forgive and let the past be the past. Look ahead—pave the way to where you want to be.
  • Deep-clean and unclutter. Look around at the stuff on your floor that can get in your way: cords, wastebaskets, furniture, shoes, bags, under-the-bed stuff, piles of clothes, and so on. You want your pathway open physically as well as spiritually so that when Mars turns direct you will feel refreshed and eager for the future.
  • Wear new colors. Sagittarius is the fire sign, and Mars is the red planet. How about a splash of fiery red or orange in your wardrobe? When you change your colors, you change your life.

Retrograde planets can surprise you, and Mars retrograde might deliver a surprise that at first maybe won’t feel like a gift. It’s meant to shake you out of complacency and mindless routine. Why not surprise yourself by stepping outside your four walls toward your better future?

8 Ways to Misuse a Psychic Reading

So your horoscope, Tarot reading, psychic reading, or palm reading is over. The reader’s advice is perhaps to leave the past behind, or to develop your talents, or stop trying to please people, or have more confidence or faith.

So what’s the next step? How, exactly, can you “leave the past behind”? Delete all the old photos and the Facebook account? Is that going too far? The forecaster said your future was bright. How, exactly, will it brighten? What must you do?

Psychic readings and interpretations should guide people, not worry them. An insightful psychic reading offers a moment of clarity, a breath of fresh air in the hot mess of life. After a psychic reading you should know yourself better and stand a bit taller in spirit. There’s no “must do” list. You alone are the commander of your life and you decide what to do. It’s also possible to misuse a psychic reading and make your life worse. Avoid:

1) Worrying because of the psychic reading

If advised to “dress up and go out this weekend,” but you can’t find a babysitter, don’t be concerned that you’ve screwed up your destiny. Life goes in cycles. There is no such thing as only one opportunity to do right or do well. Psychic readings shouldn’t govern every waking moment. A psychic reading that left you fearful was a false psychic reading.

2) Believing the psychic reading is your “fate”

In former times, people were born into castes or situations where they stayed for life with no way out. The belief in an inescapable fate, called “fatalism,” comes from that kind of society. The world is different now. No one has ever proved that one’s fate is determined at birth or governed by a Tarot card.

3) Hating and fighting what it says about you

If a Cancer Sun hates the word “cancer” and its alternative, “Moon Child,” or if a Scorpio Moon hates her Moon because it makes her so jealous, alternatives do exist. Different forms of astrology might give you a different Sun or Moon or rising sign: Look into Hindu (also called Vedic) astrology or Sidereal astrology. If really troubled, find a second reader, state your problem, and get a second opinion. Or consider working with what you’ve got rather than against it.

4) Being a bore about it

No one likes a believer who constantly talks or posts about what she dreamed, or what her psychic or Tarot reader said, instead of paying attention to and interacting with whoever is actually present.

5) Procrastinating and making excuses based on the psychic reading

“Saturn transiting my tenth house means it’s not a good time to look for a job,” is not an excuse to sit on the sidelines of your own life or stay in bed. If your psychic reading revealed obstacles, it was to encourage you to prepare responses and strategies.

6) Judging people’s morals and character

The occult is meant to open your mind, not close it. We all have an inner list of Sun signs we particularly like. But refuse to date nine of the 12 Sun signs, or say of a total stranger, “His profile says Libra and I can’t stand Libras!” and that’s oversimplifying. A person’s worth, or his past, present, and future, and how you two will relate, can’t be judged solely by his Sun sign. That’s merely one indicator of many. If a psychic told you to watch out for a person with the initial “D,” you should be smart enough to know that in a typical day you will probably meet at least three of them, and it’s a waste to be suspicious of them all.

7) Tell others who they are

“Son, you are a Taurus and Taurus is musical, so forget about soccer and go practice your violin,” “The psychic said my next man would be controlling, and she was right, you are!” “Pisces Sun, Aquarius Moon—I know the type!” Stereotyping allows us to skip the work of understanding and appreciating individuals. Nothing good can come of it. Warnings about a troublesome person in your future are valuable only if they are heeded before you get entangled.

8) Impose your psychic reading on others

Your psychic reading applies only to you; it is not a timeless truth for everybody. If the adviser explained that your lover pulled away because he started to have feelings, that doesn’t apply to every lover you will ever have, or every male, everyone with feelings, or every relationship. A reader is not a final authority on how the world operates, and the psychic reading was for you only, not for anyone else.

To use a psychic reading correctly, concentrate on appreciating where you are and take one step every day to improve your life.

Jupiter Direct: Eight Months of Good Luck

Rejoice! Jupiter, named for the king of the old Roman gods, and the king of the planets—larger than all the other planets combined—as of May 13, 2016, is out of retrograde motion. Since January 7 you’ve worked hard and worried a lot as Jupiter inched backwards through Virgo, the perfectionistic sign. Now comes your payoff.

Jupiter will now travel forward through Virgo and enter Libra on September 7, 2016, where it will stay in direct motion until February 2017. What you feel right now is a sense of relief after four months of being as busy as you’ve ever been—most of the time not even asking for help. Jupiter in Virgo is like—well, it’s like Santa Claus on a diet and exercise plan. He must do it although it’s hard. As his blood pressure normalizes he feels better. Meanwhile, Santa’s elves are busily piling up toys and gifts Santa will give away when he’s slimmer with a summer tan; and he’s getting there! Relaxation and pleasure will increase as Jupiter approaches Libra, a sign that enhances the planet’s expansive and generous vibrations.


With Jupiter Direct, We Will Talk and Care Less About. . .

Jupiter retrograde in Virgo means it’s highly likely that in these last few months food and diets obsessed you. When Jupiter entered Virgo in August 2015 you were probably wearing or coveting a Fitbit, a very Jupiter-in-Virgo appliance, and had the best intentions. But you gained weight in January and February and got very self-critical. During this retrograde period studies were published saying very heavy people who lose large amounts of weight, as in The Biggest Loser competitions, are likely to regain it and can’t help it; their bodies have hormonal triggers for hunger, and reduced food intake makes them feel starved.

This finding has of course been challenged, and doesn’t apply to people needing to lose 10 or 20 pounds or fewer. The point is that Jupiter retrograde in Virgo brought over-generous media attention to issues of weight and food and carbs; we became self-conscious and analytical to the point of being stressed. I’d bet that since Jupiter has turned direct, you probably said “to heck with it” and baked some rolls or ate pasta.

Another Jupiter-in-Virgo effect is reduced tolerance for other people. Maybe you’ve been a hermit since Christmas, but want now to go to the movies, or get concert or game tickets. Because we are all his children, Jupiter, the king of the gods, typically welcomes everyone with open arms. But Jupiter under the sign Virgo is far more selective about who gets close; they might affect health or finances! Nationwide and internationally, retrograde Jupiter in Virgo stirred up controversy about immigrants and refugees and how nobody wants them. This summer, people involved will prepare solutions and have them ready by the time Jupiter enters Libra. I think that President Obama will propose a huge project to help refugees.

And let’s talk money: Jupiter retrograde in Virgo probably had you paying off taxes, using coupons and special offers, or saving for a significant future purchase. If you were saving, now you’re close to getting to spend it. Mars, Saturn, and Pluto are all currently retrograde, indicators of big-business frustration and disappointment, and I wouldn’t advise buying a car just now. But on the plus side, with Jupiter direct, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a stock-market crash. During June, July, and August, stocks tend to be stable.


We Will Care More About. . .

We will be less talkative and more proactive. Jupiter retrograde in Virgo triggered arguments over every detail. Great projects might have stalled. Maybe your memoir was almost finished, but in March you thought it treated your family too harshly and planned to rewrite it all. With Jupiter direct in Virgo you’ll be seeing the sense in squaring your shoulders and being a grownup, not a scared kid. As Jupiter enters Libra, which rules the seventh house of relationships, the family will be, from September on, in a forgiving or at least tolerant mood. Jupiter will stay in direct motion in Libra until February 5, 2017.

As Jupiter regains lost ground we’ll be more forthright. Jupiter retrograde in Virgo is like a Virgo boss, perfectly nice except he’ll hint at what he wants done, rather than actually tell you. Or maybe since January you’ve been reluctant to speak up, fearing for your job or situation, and tried hard to read people’s minds. Now you’re just itching to have your say. With Mars still in retrograde until the end of June, talk rationally; don’t spew.

Romance and friendships under Jupiter in Virgo are the pits. Lovers or clients you met in the summer of 2015 are likely to have been disappointing or cold. Jupiter in Virgo, which began in August 2015 and continues until this September, is full of little “do you love me” tests and games, regrettable emails and texts, inappropriate and unpleasing gift choices, and private concern about “settling” for less than your ideal. Supermarket scandal sheets reflect Jupiter in Virgo’s influence, trumpeting celebrity betrayals and breakups. When Jupiter moves to Libra, an era of relationship uncertainty and worry will fade away. You will have learned to be more selective. In September the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, will all be retrograde, and the national and political scene will be squirrely. Lovers might then be inspired to marry for security; Jupiter in Libra, sign of marriage, can encourage that.

Sibling and family relationships will sweeten now that Jupiter is in direct motion. Jupiter in Virgo is an excellent time to organize the family scrapbooks, photos, and files. It’s also fine for family health matters and housing issues. After September 21, when the Sun is also in Libra, is optimal for family fun and forgiving old-time family enmities.

Soon after Jupiter enters Libra, mark your calendar for Monday, September 26, when the Sun and Jupiter align. It’s a lucky aspect for just about any activity.

Jupiter in direct motion is a refreshing feeling. Enjoy it, and your hard-earned rewards.

Eclipses 2016: Nothing to Fear

Astrology has evolved along with humanity. So there is no longer any reason to fear eclipses as our ancestors did. They saw the lunar eclipse as their moon swallowed by shadow; they saw the sun, who was their god, obscured by a featureless black circle, and the whole world around them darkening in broad daylight. They pounded on drums and wailed to make eclipses go away. We don’t have to. We know better.


Some astrologers still say that eclipses—normal, natural, and predictable astral events—are bad omens, indicating crisis points in our lives, or crisis points in history, or in the nations on which they cast their shadows. (Eclipses cast limited and narrow corridors of shadow onto the earth. Eclipses visible on one side of the earth can’t be seen from the other.) Today we are aware that eclipses are simply physical alignments of the Sun, Earth, and Moon, and humanity has known that since about 2500 B.C. when Chinese astrologers discovered how to predict them. About 1500 years later, astrologers in the Middle East developed the mathematics to do that. Today we’ve got them figured out all the way to 2099 and beyond.

In astrology, nothing bad can come from alignments or conjunctions. Alignments only intensify what’s already there. Eclipses are partial or full alignments of the Sun and Moon, which astrologers call “the Lights,” and their influence is always positive. Chinese astrologers believed eclipses brought luck for their emperor. The idea that eclipses portend disaster is from Babylonia, passed down to our day without any solid proof. The cosmos is perfectly designed and sacred. There are no evil omens in the sky.There might be reasons to be careful, or to work hard, but eclipses never present us with reasons for fear. The Sun and Moon dance with our Earth in endless space. Nothing is more beautiful than when the three align.

Solar Eclipse

It’s true that staring at the powerful Sun during a solar eclipse (or any time) can damage your eyesight. Today, in some cultures, pregnant women are still supposed to hide during eclipses. I think it’s pretty clear that a shadow won’t harm anyone. But it does seem that people born during or close to an eclipse are handed greater responsibilities than most, leading to greater manifestations. Such people include Karl Marx, Prince Charles, Prince William, and Pope John Paul II, all born near solar eclipses. Born at lunar eclipses were Prince William’s wife Kate Middleton, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Each year Earth has two solar eclipses and at least two lunar eclipses, in opposite zodiac signs. They occur whether you can view them from your location or not. March and September 2016:

  • In 2016 the first solar eclipse was March 8, in at 18 degrees of Pisces, and the second is September 1, at 9 degrees of Virgo.
  • The visible lunar eclipses of 2016: March 23, at 3 degrees of Libra, and September 16, at 24 degrees of Pisces. There’s one on August 18, at 25 degrees of Aquarius, that is so off-center, or “penumbral,” it will be invisible. Astrological opinion is that it therefore doesn’t count.
  • The lunar eclipse on March 23 was partial and could be seen from North America at moonset. The one on September 16 will not be visible in the Western Hemisphere except from the east coast of Brazil.

Solar eclipses occur on the New Moon, and lunar eclipses occur on the Full Moon. Perhaps you’ve witnessed a partial or total eclipse. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Some eclipses “clip off” only part of our view of the Sun or Moon. Total eclipses hide the sun or moon altogether for a few moments. The total solar eclipse on March 8 will be visible from Southeast Asia and Hawaii. The September 1 total solar eclipse will be visible from Africa. Some astrologers predict trouble in those areas at those times. I say there’s always trouble somewhere if you look for it.

From eclipses, solar and lunar, you can expect surprises, specifically manifestations. Lunar eclipses bring more intimate manifestations. It isn’t possible to tell you how to prepare for surprises, but because there are two eclipses this year in the sign of Pisces, the spiritual sign, we can expect to manifest what we imagine and dream about.

  • Start imagining good things now!
  • If you started in March on a dream or spiritual journey, or perhaps therapy, by September you will know whether you can truly grow or are fooling yourself.
  • There might be miracles.
  • Any egoistic or irrational behavior that goes overboard on or around March 8—yours, others’, or a whole nation’s—will be corrected and exposed for what it is, and perhaps quashed, by September’s solar eclipse in rational, practical Virgo. People will be asking, “Who will pay for this?” and expect answers. Virgo’s avatar is a young woman holding a sheaf of wheat. The eclipse in Virgo presents us with seeds for further growth and real-life results. We can plant them, or it might not be your time to do that. In astrology there is no such thing as only one chance.


The lunar eclipse on Wednesday, March 23 in Libra opposed the Sun in Aries. I see this as an attempt at diplomacy or conciliation. If a former partner or rival manifests in your life bringing tempting offers, it’s most likely an empty gesture, all showmanship. Do your best to be upfront and honest, even if you think others aren’t. State your terms and don’t settle. Maybe then you can be friends. Friday, September 16 might manifest a fulfilling surprise through people you trust, or an investment you made in your own well-being can pay off. You might find out how much people love and need you. This is the time to be warm-hearted and sympathetic.

Saturn: Evil Planet?

Astrology says the planets Mars, Saturn, Uranus, and Pluto can disrupt our lives. The most dreaded is Saturn, the planetary “taskmaster” who can weigh us down with responsibilities and consequences. Our natal Saturn sets our life tasks upon our shoulders. When transiting, as it always is, Saturn camps out in each zodiac signs for two long years. When I complained about transiting Saturn a friend said, “Saturn is always somewhere” —and that’s true.


Saturn is now transiting Sagittarius, where it will spend all of 2016. On a global level, this means you’ll notice less of a party mood and more serious debate about religion and philosophy. And maybe entertainment doesn’t seem so entertaining anymore. But Saturn is one of the “personal planets,” and its effects show up in daily life. Nothing awful will happen; it’s just that life is less fun.

My natal Saturn is in House 1, house of the self and the load of karma I was born with. Saturn in House 1 made me unusually serious and a hard worker. Family snapshots show a serious toddler. As a flower girl, age seven, my unsmiling face ruined somebody’s wedding photos. I started working, cleaning houses, at age 13. Saturn in House 1 can also mean I’m a depressive, old before my time, or will carry heavy burdens, visible or not. For years I wore only black. I thought black clothes were simply practical: Everything matched.

The flip side of having natal Saturn in House 1 is how I have learned, through various Saturn lessons, to lighten up, go out and socialize and play, wear bright colors and fun shoes. I’m still learning from my Saturn. Only last year did it occur to me to highlight my hair. For me, life truly began at 40. Now I prioritize fun and plan to have more. I’m still discovering things I love.

That was worth learning, so thank you, natal Saturn in House 1. But that’s not the end of it. We all must deal with Saturn’s transits through each of our charts’ 12 houses. If Saturn is transiting your house of home and family (House 4), does that mean the renovation might take two whole years? Or that family life will be a drag? Maybe. Sometimes. But focusing on the negative only brings you more of it.

Look at Saturn’s good side: When leaving an astrological house to enter the next one, transiting Saturn leaves a gift, often a big one. On the day transiting Saturn left my third house (of communications) for the fourth (of house and home), I got a phone call: a story I wrote won a $5,000 prize. With the money—and Saturn then beginning its transit of my fourth house—I bought my first real furnishings and rugs. It took a planetary gift that big and obvious to convince me that Saturn always leaves a gift. Look for them. That’s 12 big gifts every 29 years, which is the length of time it takes Saturn to transit all the houses in your chart. And every 29 years Saturn changes your life. For the better or for worse: Saturn leaves that choice to us.

Father Time
Father Time

Part of what makes Saturn seem heavy is that he also embodies Father Time. Yet he’ll magically turn ordinary human aging into glorious maturity. Mature people have been around the block and know the grass isn’t greener. Experts at cooking, fishing, caring, financing—whatever they’ve spent their lives perfecting—they will teach you if you ask. They know a lie when they hear it. Appearances matter less. Maturity only makes life more enjoyable.

A Saturn transit through any house or sign might feel as if it’s grinding you down. Saturn’s transits—no one says they’re easy—are “polishing” you, preparing you for life’s next phase. The lesson might be persistence or commitment: “You can do it.” Or it’s about adding muscle to your moral character. Saturn’s gifts include discipline, sobriety, goal-setting, and understanding that life doesn’t last forever, so you shouldn’t spend it miserably, or bemoaning Saturn transits. Saturn is always somewhere, and you’d have tasks and challenges in life whether there was a Saturn or not.

Tarot Card Readings: Which Queen Are You in Tarot?

Often, before beginning a reading, a Tarot reader will set out the four Queen cards, one each for the suits of Pentacles, Swords, Wands, and Cups, and ask the Seeker (that’s you) which one you like best. Your chosen card will represent you in the reading. From what you choose, the reader learns a lot about you. How is that possible when you have never met before and the reader doesn’t even know your name?

This is how: You have chosen your Queen intuitively, responding to the cards’ colors, figures, backgrounds, and symbolism. The Tarot reader has studied all of these in depth, even details it takes time to notice, and knows what they mean.

Queen of Pentacles = The Queen of Sheba


In modern Tarot readings with the popular Rider-Waite deck, all cards in the suit of Pentacles picture five-pointed stars set in yellow circles. These are read as financial cards and indicate money’s ebb and flow. The Queen of Pentacles, in a rich red robe and surrounded by rose garlands, seated amid scenic property that stretches for miles, is holding a gigantic gold coin in her lap, regarding it fondly. If material comfort and possessions matter to you—if you couldn’t live without them—then you are the Queen of Pentacles. She is pictured as dark-skinned like the Queen of Sheba who brought King Solomon lavish gifts from her homeland. This Queen’s feet are on untilled fertile earth, and a rabbit scoots across the bottom right of the card. Her red clothing means she’s passionate in the ways that count, and the result is wealth.

This Queen enjoys children; having children and grandchildren is another expression of creativity and another form of wealth. If you are this queen, you require a job that allows you a satisfying amount of power over what goes on; you’d make a good office or bank manager, stockbroker, school principal, beauty consultant, or banker. Because you instantly know value when you see it, you could deal in real estate, cars, jewelry and gems, exotic imports, or maybe antiques. Where you’d be unhappy: Modeling, sports, dance, or other jobs requiring strict daily discipline, which end when the body is broken and can’t take any more. You’d rather dine sumptuously. Partnership is your deepest desire. It helps your soul feel secure. This Queen also identifies with Queen Isabella of Spain, who funded the voyages of Christopher Columbus, but paid him only when his ships returned with loaded with valuables. On the negative side, this Queen might not be able to get money off her mind and stunts her own emotional and spiritual life; she turns into an old woman who thinks everyone is stealing from her.

Queen of Swords = Queen Noor of Jordan


A beautiful and educated modern American, Lisa Halaby of Washington D.C., of Arab and Swedish descent, had a degree in architecture and urban planning. She was designing an airport in Jordan when the King of Jordan met her and made her his queen, giving her the Arabic name “Noor,” meaning “Light.” Never idle, Queen Noor involved herself in international relations, traveling worldwide and winning respect and attention for her oil-rich country. She dressed and carried herself with dignity, even when sorrowful—she was the king’s fourth wife, and the King was the type to habitually have affairs. Queenly posture and dignity is the key to handling marital sorrow if divorce isn’t an option. When her husband died, her son became King, so she is now the Queen Dowager and devotes her time to world organizations.

You are the Queen of Swords if your mind is keen and you are an expert in some field, or a skilled professional such as a lawyer, editor, nurse, motivational speaker, teacher, club officer, coach, or executive. You prefer classic or modest clothing to cheap rags and bling. This queen, wearing white for brilliance, holds a sword and has a serious expression, but she’s wearing a cape made of clouds and a crown of butterflies, so she definitely has a lighter side. She is Superwoman, or the great Biblical judge and prophet Deborah, believing in justice and fairness and showing sterling qualities of character. With her left hand she is inviting those in search of wisdom or justice to come forward and speak with her. If you are this Queen, your intellectual and spiritual growth isn’t finished at age 25 or even 45; it’s lifelong. You learn from experience. Your charisma amazes others; use it to inspire them. You are a great role model, or if you’re young, you will be. The Queen of Swords is brainy, goal-oriented, and determined, and on the wings of angels (there’s one carved into her throne) can rise above the sorrows of life and prize her scars as symbols of survival. This queen can respond to insults or other disappointments with an evil tongue, nagging and criticizing.

Queen of Wands = Queen Elizabeth the First


England has had many more queens than kings because the kings married often, but the most famous English monarch is a Queen, Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry the Eighth, who governed the British Empire for 44 years. She wanted power, knew how to get it, and wasn’t afraid to use it. She won wars against the two other political superpowers, France and Spain, imprisoned her troublemaking sister for 18 years, and, very cultured herself, encouraged the arts and sciences, bringing England out of its Dark Ages and making it a world power. She had noble lovers and confidants, and male allies and advisers from several countries, but staying single was her tactic for remaining sole ruler of England. Like her father, she answered to nobody.

When the Queen of Wands appears in a Tarot reading, I call her the Business Queen. This is your Queen if you can turn a talent or interest into a business. From a small seed, this Queen grows the great sunflower she holds like a scepter. Or she takes over a failing business, or one passed down to her by her father, and startles everyone by making it successful. She likes fast-track careers, selling, and traveling. Her confidence makes her very sexy, and the Queen of Wands, of course, has an element of mystery and magic that intrigues men of substance. She is radiant, but her darker feline aura is represented on the card by her pet black cat. Beware if this Queen is angry; she sets clever traps and has lots of friends to back her. Lions flank her throne and are also pictured on a tapestry, because she is the lioness of the Tarot. She is shown in a desert, representing the element of fire.

Queen of Cups = Queen Cleopatra


Queen Cleopatra maintained an active love life with rich and powerful men, and to this day her goddess-like status, which she created and maintained, and her fashion sense persists. An icon, Queen Cleopatra (her name names “from a glorious father”) is still sculpted and painted and portrayed on stage and film although she lived 2000 years ago. She is also the last Egyptian Pharaoh. She was known throughout the ancient world as a great beauty, but even more special were her sweet voice and witty conversation, and ability to speak nine languages. This Queen had it all.

The Queen of Cups in Tarot is like the Queen of Hearts in regular playing cards. Close relationships are her forte and her pleasure, although sometimes she competes with those closest to her. Cleopatra wouldn’t share the throne with any man, including her lovers and brother. You are this Queen if you are intuitive, sensitive, artistic, beautifully groomed, and have a gorgeous residence or garden—or dream of one. You see straight into all hearts, and attract friends by listening and showing compassion. On the card, the Queen of Cups holds and studies a strange and magical solid gold cup decorated with symbols of several religions; this represents her spirituality, which feeds her tremendous creative powers. She knows that being creative is serving God the Creator. In addition to having love affairs, this Queen writes, dances, paints, sings, or makes movies, or is otherwise a creative type and hopes to leave her art as her legacy. She is enthroned where the water and the earth meet, and if you chose this Queen you probably have the urge to live or be near rivers or oceans, or on the beach. When afflicted, this Queen can become clingy and needy, seeing the glass as half empty instead of half full.

Retrogrades: When Planets Go Backwards

Well-known and often dreaded, the “Mercury retrograde” period happens three times per year, each time for three weeks. When “Mercury is in retrograde” humans commonly miscalculate and miscommunicate, and unpredictable factors disrupt their routines. These small, annoying challenges are supposedly caused by the planet Mercury traveling backwards through the sky, which happens about 17 percent of the time.


No planet truly moves backwards, but from the earth all of them appear to do so at certain times, on a schedule. Astronomers, such as at NASA, and astrologers both use the same databases, available to all, to determine planetary retrogrades past and future. Retrogrades are normal and natural. That’s their way of reminding us that retrograde or “backwards” motion is also normal in our lives. To soften the effect of Mercury retrograde, simply slow down, relax a bit, take more care and be mindful, try to live in the moment, quit multi-tasking, or rethink your routine. This is Mercury retrograde’s lesson for us, and its gift.

To visualize a planet’s retrograde motion, imagine walking toward home when you realize you’ve dropped your bus pass. You retrace your steps, slowing down as you approach the place it was most likely dropped. You stop to pick it up and then turn homeward, soon resuming your normal walking speed.

Retrograde planets work the same way. A planet in retrograde backs up along the path it came, by degrees, sometimes backing into the previous zodiac sign. It slows and then “stations,” or appears motionless, for a while. When it resumes its forward motion we say the planet “goes direct.” Eventually the planet passes the point it started from and goes its merry way.

But if no planet ever truly moves backwards, how can it seem to? To make it very simple, our solar system’s planets orbit in concentric circles. Picture it as a racetrack. Sometimes Earth has the “inside track” and seems to move more swiftly than the other planets, as if we’re outracing and passing them. They appear to fall behind us, or move backwards. It’s an illusion, and temporary, because all planets travel as they should without changing pace. They never act “suddenly” or unpredictably.

Mars Retrograde Depiction
Johannes Kepler’s depiction of the geocentric motions of Mars, from Astronomia Nova (1609).

Astrology says that a planet traveling in direct motion has a certain set of traits and effects, and when traveling in retrograde these same traits have different effects, as if the planet had put on a Halloween costume. On the surface these effects seem negative. When Venus, planet of love, art, diplomacy, and beauty, is in retrograde, it’s probably not the best time to cement a relationship or buy an entirely new wardrobe. But it’s a good time to “spa your mind” and assess your relationship, practice your musical instrument, or plan a versatile, affordable new wardrobe to buy when Venus goes direct. Friends or clients might seem petty or catty during Venus retrograde. Stay calm and hang on: Venus retrograde lasts only 40 days. Venus was retrograde in summer 2015 and will next be retrograde March 4 through April 15, 2017.

Advanced astrologers often mention the “shadow period” preceding and following a planet’s actual retrograde. They say it’s like a retrograde, and to take extra care at that time. For example, Mars will go retrograde from April 17 to June 23, 2016: about 11 weeks. But adding the shadow period extends this retrograde from February 17 to August 22—to a full six months. I’m not convinced the “shadow period” affects our personal lives as does visible retrograde motion, which is an illusion in the first place.


My view is that the most powerful days during a retrograde are when the retrograde begins—for Mars, that’s April 17—and ends, when the planet “stations” and turns and goes direct: June 23. Around those dates, try to hold off on truly major decisions. But if you must, go ahead, because astrology should not control your life. Guide you, yes. Control you, no.

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