Summer is a magical time, lazy and lush, slow, and succulent. There is something in the world and in us that has reached its fullness and is exploding with new life. The tomatoes and zucchinis are bigger; the peaches are juicier, the flowers brighter and the sun stronger. In summer we have permission to do everything or nothing. This is the season for picnics and summer porches, fire flies and falling stars, river rafting, skinny-dipping, camping, ice cream cones, and afternoon naps (preferable in a hammock). “Summer is not so much a season as a melody, that tune of contentment we hum as the days begin to beautifully blur.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
Here in the far north there’s been a great deal of rain; the fields and meadows are thriving; the scent of honeysuckle fills the air and the woods are overflowing with ripe raspberries, blueberries, and wild strawberries. Outside the Astrology Café folks linger in the courtyard, around the fountain, or sit at the stone tables under the old apple trees, sipping Bellinis (fresh peach juice and champagne), chilled lemonade with mint, or iced herbal tea. The garden is alive with wild roses and day lilies and overhead brightly colored lanterns hang from the trellis overgrown with wisteria. It is 9:00 pm yet still light; that mysterious time that occurs in the far north in early summer; neither day nor night but something else entirely. It’s as if a veil parts between the visible and invisible worlds and a threshold opens to a luminous place ancient and eternal. Welcome back, dear friend; you have been missed. “Oh, the summer night has a smile of light and she sits on a sapphire thrown.” –Barry Cornwall.
In her tower room above the Astrology Café our friend, the crone, the wise woman waits for us. Come inside the café and help yourself to something cold to drink and perhaps a generous helping of warm peach cobbler with a dollop of double cream, freshly baked lemon-coconut squares, chocolate macaroons, ginger cookies as delicate as an angle’s wings, or a bowl of sorbet (fig, mango, mocha-chip, green tea, blackberry-lavender, or lemon-verbena). Then follow me up the stairs, across the library, down a long corridor, through a small door, and finally up a winding staircase to the tower.
Our old friend is seated at her round oak table; her Runes, Medicine Cards, and crystals spread out before her. She welcomes us with open arms and bids us to take a seat at her table. Behind her, through the bay window, the Moon hangs, as full and ripe as a summer melon. Candles glow throughout the room; a soft breeze floats in from the open window and there is the faint scent of roses and night jasmine. Our friend places her hands on the table but does not choose a Rune or Medicine Card. Instead she speaks; her voice is deep and full of affection. Listen closely.
On July 22 the Sun enters Leo, the sign associated with the myth of Parsifal and the Search for the Holy Grail. If you are a Leo, Leo rising, have planets in Leo, or a strong 5th house this myth may have a special meaning for you. But it is everyone’s story, for we are all on the Hero’s (or Heroine’s) journey, searching for our own personal Grail. It is also a myth for our time and the healing of our planet which, like the mythic kingdom, has become a wasteland. Searching for the Grail today involves recovering the exiled feminine values into our lives, re-balancing our scientific and technological culture, and ending the alienation from nature.
In Mythology Parsifal (the name means “pure-hearted”) was raised by his widowed mother deep in a forest. His father had been a knight so the last thing his mother wanted was for Parsifal to follow in his father’s footsteps. Naturally, that’s exactly what happened. One day five knights in shining armor ride through the forest and Parsifal runs off with them. His mother begs him to stay out of trouble, keep quiet, and not ask any questions. After traveling for a long time Parsifal comes across the Grail Castle where the Fisher King is dying from a wound that will not heal. The entire kingdom is under a spell and has become a wasteland and everyone is waiting for the one person who will redeem it. That person must pass a test by asking the right question. Parsifal is granted an audience with the King but obeys his mother and doesn’t speak up. Who hasn’t been in that position? Who hasn’t suddenly gone blank during an important moment?
“Whenever a knight of the Grail tried to follow a path made by someone else, he went altogether astray. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s footsteps. Each of us has to find his own way…nobody can give you a mythology.” –Joseph Campbell
Parsifal must wander five more years in the wasteland. He has many adventures as well as disappointments and set-backs and as a result gains both wisdom and compassion. Leos often have an early success, followed by some kind of failure which ultimately teaches them humility; essential for Leo as pride and hubris can be their downfall. Eventually Parsifal finds himself back at the Grail Castle and is granted another audience with the King. This time he asks the correct question; “Whom does the Grail serve?” Parsifal receives the answer: “The Grail serves the Grail King” (the Grail worshiper who lives in the castle’s central chamber) and not the Fisher King who represents the ego. In other words, we are here to serve the Grail and not the other way around. The Fisher King is finally able to die, the kingdom is restored and Parsifal becomes a hero.
“Wounding becomes sacred when we are willing to release our old stories and to become the vehicles through which the new story may emerge into time. When we fail to do this we tend to repeat the same old story over and over again.” -Jean Houston
Parsifal was not an overnight success, nor was he a natural as a knight – quite the opposite; he really had to work at it. In a way, we are all Parsifal fumbling through life, listening to bad advice, not speaking up, and blowing perfectly good opportunities. Like Parsifal, we also possess the potential to change and evolve, if we are willing to let go of ego and embrace our humanity. We are also the wounded old King imprisoned in a castle of our own making. And we possess the sacred Grail, which according to Joseph Campbell, is “the fulfillment of the highest spiritual potentialities of the human consciousness,” actualized when people live authentic lives.
“I believe that God – and to me “God” is just shorthand for the ineffable divine presence – has only one question for us at the end: “Did you become yourself?” We have a seeded self that begins to germinate at birth. Our true goal in life is to become that self.”- Michael Meade
In the Book of Runes, the first Rune is The Self; it is the starting point and it is also the destination. We are all unique individuals with our own special destiny yet we are all on the same quest; the search for the Self, the journey of becoming whole.
Aquarius Full Moon – July 22
Corn Moon, Barley Moon, the Asala Moon.
The Asala Full Moon offers an opportunity to align with the power of divine will.
Fiery Leo is associated with the Sun; it embodies creativity, self-expression, and individuality; in the theatre it would be the star. Intellectual Aquarius symbolizes group consciousness and requires teamwork and collaboration; it represents the stagehands that put the show together. A production (or a life) requires both energies. Are you ready to step out from the chorus sing your solo? Are you prepared to do the work involved? This Full Moon puts you to the test.
“Everything I’ve let go of has claw marks on it.” –Recovery saying
Get-real Saturn in intense Scorpio makes a challenging square to the Full Moon urging us to examine what is holding us back. A square demands change and compromise. Several months ago I listened to a recording of a talk that Caroline Myss gave. She said, (and I’m paraphrasing) “Blaming and complaining is so last century. You don’t get to say, I am willing to take responsibility in this area of my life and in this one but not in over here.” Saturn retrograde since February went direct on July 7. What have you learned about your Scorpio issues (your addictions, obsessions, and fears)? Are you willing to take responsibility and create a new relationship with them? Saturn moving forward now is an opportunity to let go of an old pattern or story and begin a new chapter.
“Keep your eyes on the road. Hold on tight. We’re gaining speed but we’re losing light.” –Bob Neuwirth (99 Monkeys)
This has been a period of rough waters and strong currents: the recent Saturn retrograde; Uranus turning retrograde on July 17; Mercury going direct July 20; and let’s not forget three eclipses in a row and the Uranus/Pluto square during April and May! It feels as if time has sped up or collapsed altogether. The stakes have been raised. No margin for error. No falling asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, Jupiter in Cancer, Saturn in Scorpio, and Neptune in Pisces join together in a supportive grand water trine for most of July to ease the process and give us some much needed faith for the journey ahead.
Jupiter in Cancer
“Don’t Stop Believin!” -Journey
The planet Jupiter entered Cancer on June 25 and will remain there until July 16, 2014. Jupiter is said to be “exalted” in Cancer, meaning this giant planet is at home swimming in Cancer’s healing waters. This combination can expand and deeper our understanding of the areas ruled by Cancer such as home, family, and the feminine. Jupiter spends one year in each sign so if you’re a Cancer or Cancer rising, Jupiter will pay you a visit this year. If you were born with Jupiter in Cancer then you will have what is called a “Jupiter Return” something that takes place every 12 years when Jupiter returns to its birth position. Jupiter has a reputation for being lucky but it’s not merely dumb luck and Lotto; it’s more about betting on yourself. Ultimately Jupiter is about faith and belief. How much faith do you have in yourself to go for something you really want? Jupiter brings opportunities and opens doors but you must take some risks to receive his rewards. If Jupiter is strong for you this year then you need to dream big and make some bold moves. We all have the sign Cancer somewhere in our charts; that is the area where we can expect some grace and good will. But don’t forget to take the necessary action. “You can have all the other words- chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.” – Mary Oliver
On August 7 we have a New Moon in colorful and creative Leo. Get out your paints and dust off the guitar; it’s time to discover or recover your creative genius. On August 20-21 we have a second Aquarius Full Moon! Jupiter in Cancer plays an important role in both of these stirring up the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square. To find out more you can go to my website: www.virginiabellastrology.com or check in with me on Facebook. I will post an overview of the New and Full Moon in both places.
Summer Reading: Whether a trashy romance novel, a historical or political tome, a mystery or a memoir, nothing says summer like diving into a big book and actually having the luxury of time to finish it! Here’s what I’m looking forward to reading: Jean Haner’s Your Hidden Symmetry, How Your Birth Date Reveals the Plans for Your Life; Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, Pema Chodorn’s latest, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change and maybe a big, juicy celebrity bio like Ava Gardner, The Secret Conversations by Pete Evans and Ava Gardner – just to keep things real. Some books I’ve enjoyed recently that I highly recommend are Crossing the Unknown Sea by David Whyte, A House with Four Rooms by Rumer Godden (great memoir by a brilliant writer and an amazing woman), and Mary Oliver’s new book of poems, A Thousand Mornings.
“Stay close to anything that makes you feel glad to be alive.” -Hafiz
Beloved Friends, It is late now in the tower above the Astrology Café. The candles have all melted, the energy is soft and still and the sweet scent of night jasmine lingers in the air. The old owl has appeared on the Alder tree outside the window reminding us that it is time to say goodbye. I am deeply grateful for our time together. Take pleasure in this beautiful season. Remember that Leo is the sign of joy, pleasure and forgiveness. What brings you joy, what makes your heart sing? Summer is the perfect time to experience that. We live in such a busy, high-paced world. Dare to slow down, be still, and give yourself time to rest and restore. You are worth it! Below is my sister Kate’s recipe for Fruit Cobbler (quick, easy and delicious!) and one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems. Love yourself, feel good, and be grateful. All is well, you are loved, Virginia
“But is it such a bad thing to live like this for just a little while? Just for a few months of one’s life, is it so awful to…nap in a garden, in a patch of sunlight, in the middle of the day, right next to your favorite fountain? And then to do it again the next day?” –Liz Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)
Kate’s Summer Fruit Cobbler
1 stick of butter (Melt in a baking pan and set aside).
1-2 cups of fresh summer fruit: peaches, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, nectarines, apricots, alone or in any combination.
1 cup of flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 cup of sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
Mix dry ingredients with the wet. Pour the combined mixture into the baking pan with the butter.
Add the fruit.
Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream or double cream.
The Summer Day
By Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out on the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?