by Eric Francis

Cancer by Deirdre TantonCancer (June 21-July 22)
The 8th house is the one that covers ordinary secrets — the kind we tell to others. So it's not really secret at all; rather, it's the house of pillow talk, financial arrangements and whisper campaigns. It's the house of information that's supposed to stay in the family. Now, we live in a world where the 8th house has exploded, largely due to the internet: the concept of privacy is nonexistent. For this reason, it's better not to have secrets. The necessity to live transparently has never been more urgent, because if people know the truth about you, you have a much greater chance of setting the terms of your life. For the next two months, Mars will be retrograde in this region of your solar chart, and you will be making discoveries about what you want. You may come up against some seemingly invisible pressure not to desire that person, or experience. This is where you will need to go your own way, which will take some rearrangement of your psychology and possibly your relationships. In essence, your contracts with the people around you, which are one form of your contracts with existence, must permit you to be who you actually are. This will be a process of both negotiation and defiance. Yet you have many options besides destroying your relationships. Try being who you are. Yes, it takes practice.

Leo by Deirdre TantonLeo (July 22-Aug. 23)
One thing that Mars retrograde is likely to bring up for you is the necessity for you to associate with people who have similar belief systems, particularly where religion is concerned. It's true that not everyone is "religious," though everyone was impacted by some form of religious tradition. Especially in American society, there has been a false imposition of the beliefs of a certain few people onto everyone, and this, too, presents a condition we must address. Also, everyone has a relationship to existence, though for some this is dim, and for some it's more conscious. Consider any changes that develop in your relationships within this frame of reference and they will make more sense. The one thing you cannot do is pretend that you abide that which does not work for you. You don't need to be violent about this, or aggressive, though you will need to hold space for the ideas that are true to your soul. What you may find out through this process is that you're discovering what those ideas are; nothing is a given. Nothing is fixed, and part of what you're doing is challenging fixity itself. The real difference between the beliefs of one person and another may not be the content, but rather whether there is the ability to adapt to one's circumstances and human environment. One other bit: It's been said that "sex changes everything," to which I would add, "sex must always change."

Virgo by Deirdre TantonVirgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
You depend on your work patterns to be as productive as you are, and this summer will be an excellent time to make sure that your routines really support you. This is especially important if you are devoted to the work that you do, or to the organization you serve. Your wellbeing and your ability to be of service are closely related. Another factor you may engage with are changing social patterns; and, if those are influencing you, it will help if you go deeper than what may seem obvious. When it comes to the ways that society organizes itself, including on the most mundane social level, things are rarely what they seem. One reason for this is that the perceiver's point of view is rarely taken into account. We are encouraged to claim that a certain thing is reality, without questioning who is doing the observing and the interpreting. This is what you most urgently need to do. Many factors of your reality are based entirely on your quest to get to know who you are. To do that, you invest yourself heavily in people and in situations. Part of your process involves a measure of conflict, which is understandable if you look at it closely; we really do learn about ourselves through clashing and crashing into others, among other ways. Is that really your first choice, though? There are many methods to work out relationships. Some are more pleasant than others.

Libra by Deirdre TantonLibra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
From time to time, people wake up for a moment and question the impact of technology on their minds, and on our society. Now is an excellent time for you to do so. There are two main facets to the question. One is the impact of the technology you use on your ability to think coherently; meaning, in language that makes sense. What have you noticed on this topic, in your personal meditation on your life? I would ask: what is the condition of your writing skills now, as compared to 10 years ago? What about reading? Just checking: what was the last book you read that deeply influenced you? Second topic: creativity. Do you use your technological devices as creative tools, or are you more of a consumer? If you determine that you use the web more for consumption — by which I mean either to read, to view videos, or to make purchases — I suggest you begin to shift that balance. The impact of technology on society is something you can monitor, and observe your part in. Yet your personal experience of the digital environment is something you can do a lot about. Here's how Marshall McLuhan put it, many years ago: Most people pick up a technology and, because it's so intense, they numb out. An artist picks up a technology and uses it to stay awake, alert and expressive.

Scorpio by Deirdre TantonScorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
The importance of family and tribe stands out for Scorpio in a way that is unusual among all the other signs, even in our increasingly tribal world. The thing to study is patterns: in particular, where your family of origin's social and psychological patterns seem to mimic those of your current world. You are in the process of becoming aware of, and clearing away, the tendency of your current social experiences to mimic those of the past, seemingly to no end. Yet you must claim your space, and your right to organize your world in a way that consciously suits you. The question on one level is about patterns; though, on the visceral level, it's about attachments. If you endeavor to consciously make changes in your world, that will require changes in individual relationships. You will need, therefore, to trust that the loving ties that bind are more valuable to everyone involved than the toxic patterns you are trying to transcend. At first it will seem to require the greatest depth of courage you've ever mustered — unless, of course, you're aware that you're suffocating or otherwise stifled. Even then, it can take some guts to draw a whole breath and assert your right to some freedom to move about the planet, and the social spheres, on your own terms. Remember: this all comes back to very old patterns, long predating your current life.

Sagittarius by Deirdre TantonSagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You are rapidly letting go of old thought patterns, which will make room for a new form of intelligence. Yet as those old thought forms crumble, you may feel like you're losing something valuable; in truth they are no more useful than the outgrown shell that a sea creature is shedding. You are an unusually intelligent person, though certain forms that your mental abilities take limit your ability to perceive ideas. The patterns are too rigid, and need to be challenged, and evaluated, based on their capacity to do what you want them to do. You may, therefore, encounter issues that require you to think in new, different and expanded ways. This is not merely about 'knowing more' but rather about how you work with the information and the perceptions that you have. This is likely to arrive in real-time experiments, based on immediate circumstances you may be facing. We have all heard the term "thinking outside the box," which refers to a specific puzzle you can find in Wikipedia. This is a good example of what you'll be learning, only imagine this on a three- or four-dimensional model. You can practice this by doing things like physically looking at a circumstance from as many viewpoints as possible. Take one question and get 10 opinions and notice the patterns. Remember that mathematics is an invention of the human mind. You are such an inventor.

Capricorn by Deirdre TantonCapricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
You must have some strong motivation to get your finances in order, and I suggest you ride that horse while it's fresh and the day is young. You can start anywhere: for example, digging out and organizing your old files, or picking a current project. One exercise I advise my clients to do, when money is a question, is to figure out exactly where they stand: determine precisely how much debt, how much cash and how much credit you have. Just the process of doing this will be empowering, and I mean that directly. You must know where you stand. Then, do an evaluation of all of your other resources: a kind of inventory of talents; people who will help you; spaces that you own, rent or can use; ideas you've developed; art and manuscripts lying around; undeveloped ideas; and whatever else you might consider an asset. Once you have this inventory going, you will start to get ideas for what to do next. You will also clarify what no longer needs to be part of your life. It's important to dispose of anything you don't need, don't want and don't use, which can include passing many things forward to others. The overall idea here is to clear the way for what is new, what is alive, and what you really want. This is best done as a conscious act, so that you stay one step ahead of nature.

Aquarius by Deirdre TantonAquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
This summer, Mars will be retrograde in your sign for the first time since 1971. Astrological events gain meaning and influence through being unusual, and this qualifies: it's describing a truly momentous time in your life, a time not just of re-evaluation, but also re-creation. Don't be afraid to ask the big questions, and trust that you will get answers. Those answers may not arrive immediately. But they will indeed show up, perhaps in pieces that you assemble, perhaps in layers, and perhaps in the form of revelations or discoveries. I would borrow an idea from A Course in Miracles that you may find helpful: your role is not to seek love, but rather to seek and find the blocks to the awareness of love's presence. This will entail coming to terms with anger; we are talking about Mars, after all. You will need to come to terms with desire, whether sexual or otherwise. You will need to understand the various shades of assertion, aggression and attack, and gain an understanding of what those mean, and where they are rooted in your psyche. Find a way not to take anger out on yourself. Rather, direct it outward at what cannot be hurt, such as in martial arts training of some kind. When Mars is active in your life, you need to move your energy through you, and learn to focus it as you do. This and many other factors will help liberate you.

Pisces by Deirdre TantonPisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
Mars retrograde takes place in your 12th house, which is where you keep all your deepest secrets from yourself. So we could say that the theme here is learning to be scrupulously honest with yourself, about everything there is to be honest about. As a Pisces, you have a way of containing the universe within you. My favorite way of describing our sign is to say that the ocean refuses no river. You take on a lot; all the other signs, and what they represent, flow into yours. You have a way of organizing all that you absorb; and now the time has come to clean off the shelves and dig out the closets and the storage unit and all of that. Make that your focus this summer. Lighten up your load, whether mental, emotional or material. This will have results on the spiritual level: that is, your sense of self will come into focus as you pare back what you don't need and don't want. You will also notice that certain ways you've been conditioned to think — perhaps going back to specific ancestors you can identify — no longer serve you. In sum, the bottom line here is learning how to let go of fear. You will be doing this in a time when there is plenty to be afraid of in the world, and when we live in a time of rampant uncertainty. This will make your efforts all the more meaningful.

Aries by Deirdre TantonAries (March 20-April 19)
You will have an unusually close-up view for one of the strangest shows on Earth, and you may also be a participant in the changes that are now in progress. The first thing to be conscious of is who you consider a friend. This is not an honorary position in your life; the word must have real meaning, which is demonstrated through both correct action and honesty. Most people you know have already established a track record with you. You will need to be aware of what that is, and not pretend it's something else. A friend is someone who accepts you as you are, who embraces you no matter what you are going through, and no matter what your opinions may be. That may seem like a tall order — and in fact, most of us have very few actual friends. You are likely to find yourself in many situations where you will feel called to go against the grain of what is popular, and this is likely to last through the summer. You are also inaugurating another phase of your life, wherein you live up to your reputation of being the headstrong one who always goes your own way, who sees the world through your own eyes, and who makes all your own decisions. Pay attention: this is about leadership.

Taurus by Deirdre TantonTaurus (April 19-May 20)
Mars retrograde takes place in your solar 10th house. While this region of the horoscope has many associations with fame, notoriety and profession, it also comes back to your dominant parent. That's the one who did most of the parenting; and in the 20th century, that usually meant mother. Mars retrograde in Aquarius is about challenging the thought patterns that have, in a sense, ruled your life, or that at least set templates you have tried to follow. Underneath all the activity and the choices and the strange ways that mothers tend to maintain control over their daughters, there is a thought form lurking. This would be easier to find, if anyone knew it was there. It would be easier to address, if you could identify it and maintain a dialog with it. Yet let's translate that: whatever this notion, idea, or concept is, it lives inside you, although it came from somewhere else. All of the rationalizations and neurotic tendencies that grow from it are meaningless. Even so, this thought form is concealed by them. It is a specific fear or belief. It is closely related to religious ideas, and all the knots they tie people in. Remember that religion is built on declaring sex as its antagonist. Sex is about your body but it's also about your capacity to love. God is great. Human love is what you need and must learn to trust.

Gemini by Deirdre TantonGemini (May 20-June 21)
We are in an era where belief is proving to be extremely problematic. It always was, though we're entrenched in times when to believe something is to think it's not only true, but that it must be true for everyone. Questioning one's beliefs takes courage — and it takes the mastery of certain spiritual and psychological tools. Yet it's also the work-a-day tradecraft of people known as fact-checkers, who spend their day asking one question over and over: "Is this true?" Translating a little, it means: how do we know this is true? What evidence is there to support this assertion? Is this number or quotation or location accurate? Does the story check out? The way to "question your beliefs" is to spend your day questioning them, in a structured manner. Therefore, the first step is identifying something as a belief. The way you do that is to question all of your thoughts, and you find the ones that are not standing on a foundation of facts and data. This is likely to include anything that you have not personally witnessed, or read about from multiple sources — none of them accessed on a smartphone or through a social media platform. The problem here is that most people don't recognize their beliefs as such. They're just simply "what is right." So that is the place to start. Therefore, strive to prove yourself wrong. You will discover many interesting things: about yourself, and the world.

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beautifully illustrated by Deirdre Tanton

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