Your Life is Made of Patterns

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Illustration by Lia Simone.

Welcome, Aquarius, to the Art of Becoming, your 2018 annual reading.

Here are the contents:

The Art of Becoming for Aquarius

“The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas like the colours or the words, must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.”

— G. H. Hardy

The sign Aquarius came to prominence in the mid-1960s, thanks to a song in the Broadway musical Hair — we were told it was time for the Age of Aquarius, and told what it would be like. No astrological evidence was offered except the Moon being in the 7th house (which it is once a day) and Jupiter aligning with Mars (which it does about once a year, in an opposition or conjunction).

Here’s the Wikipedia description of how the show begins (song titles are in parentheses):

“After the tribe converges in slow-motion toward the stage, through the audience, they begin their celebration as children of the Age of Aquarius (‘Aquarius’). Berger removes his trousers to reveal a loincloth. Interacting with the audience, he introduces himself as a ‘psychedelic teddy bear’ and reveals that he is ‘looking for my Donna’ (‘Donna’).”

I think Donna is the psychedelic urchin and 16-year-old virgin. And a loincloth? For real? Well, it’s a show. But it gets better:

“The tribe recites a list of pharmaceuticals, legal and illegal (‘Hashish’). Woof, a gentle soul, extols several sexual practices (‘Sodomy’) and says, ‘I grow things’. [We hear that a lot in 2018, too.] He loves plants, his family and the audience, telling the audience, ‘We are all one’. Hud, a militant African-American, is carried in upside down on a pole. He declares himself ‘president of the United States of Love’ (‘Colored Spade’).”

And so it was, through song and verse, within living memory, that the Saturn-ruled sign Aquarius became associated with sex, drugs and rock and roll — and the Age of Aquarius was associated with the United States of Love, where we are all one. This sounds more like Pisces than Aquarius. But as errors go, this is a pretty good one; at least the associations are positive — that is, if you’re not a member of the Right to Life. However, you probably don’t wear loincloths, and you’re unlikely to trip as much as you used to (Did you ever? Do you miss it?).

Aquarius is no groovier (or any less groovy) than any other sign of the zodiac. Each sign is groovy in its own way, and each has its challenges and issues. However, perceptions matter, and Aquarius is so specifically different from this description that it’s a little puzzling. While there are many metrics for when the Age of Aquarius begins (which span from it started around 1920; to it starts 400 years from now; or, for some compelling reasons, to it’s happening right now), it does not appear to be about frolicking naked and smoking hash.

Additionally, during the era when this musical came out, there was not any major activity in Aquarius. The 1960s were mainly about Virgo, Scorpio and Pisces. And as it happens, you have quite a bit of those signs going on right now. Might we end up finding some truth to the prophecy of peace, harmony and understanding?

Of Aquarius and Patterns

My telephone just rang — I still have a landline. It was a robot calling. A ‘female’ voice sternly warned me: “DO NOT HANG UP THE PHONE. YOUR GOOGLE BUSINESS LISTING IS…” click. It was a robot calling on behalf of another robot. Whatever we might call it, that’s the age we’re in.

All the signs have a primary energetic function. Aries tends to initiate experiences. Taurus tends to preserve what has been gained, and Capricorn represents the sum total of human achievement. Pisces tends to soften and sometimes dissolve what it comes in contact with.

Aquarius, associated with inventions, electronics and gadgetry, is really the sign of patterns. That’s its primary power: it focuses and crystallizes whatever it comes in contact with into orderly patterns, and this happens within you as well. If you have strong Aquarius in your chart, the most effective way to build or grow your life is to establish routines, and maintain them, and let them take over. There is some risk to this method, but it tends to work.

Aquarius is also the sign of groups; and those, too, are about the patterns that people make amongst one another, such as informal social groups, committees, task forces, or highly structured organizations.

Aquarius tends to crystallize whatever it comes into contact with, whether we’re taking about habits (good or bad, they tend to run our lives), thought forms (ideation), cultural patterns (things become more like they already are), technology (how many things happen without the internet?) and social experiences (the in-group is reluctant to let anyone else in).

Experience teaches that it’s difficult to shift the patterns that are consecrated by Aquarius, in part because they are so strong, and in part because we rarely notice they exist. They become part of the background environment, which most who have considered the idea would say is difficult to alter or influence consciously.

The story of your astrology, for 2018 and for the foreseeable future, is about undoing the patterns that have formed in your life, on every level, including ancestral. Then you will get to create new patterns, such that you may live a future different from your past.

Some of this astrology indicates the appeal of deep spiritual and psychological work — and understanding the nexus of where the two ideas meet. You may already be feeling this inclination, as a calling to go within in a time when the world is obsessed with externals.

It’s also possible that you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, since some of these transits have you under considerable pressure to change and to grow, of a kind that’s difficult to describe. Other events describe sudden releases from that same pressure; including eclipses that are moving through your sign and your opposite sign Leo, which describes your relationships.

In a way similar to Capricorn — but with some distinct differences — you will be summoned to do what some call family constellation work, studying the generations that preceded yours for information about why you live the way you live, why you think the way you do, and why you feel the way that you feel. Much of this is about delving into what is invisible.

You might shortcut this process and bust free. Depending on how much you’ve thought these things through, you might already be at the point of liberation. Still, there will be some material from the past to address.

Eclipses in Leo and Aquarius

Among the pattern-shifting events of the past 18 months have been eclipses. They are the most dependable events when it comes to getting some changes, even though we don’t always like what happens. This is why they must be used consciously. Eclipses follow the lunar nodes, which join together opposite signs.

As of this writing, eclipses are almost done moving through your sign and your opposite sign Leo. The two most historic events of this era were the total solar eclipse in Leo in the summer of 2017 (the “Great American Eclipse”), and the partial solar eclipse in Aquarius in February 2018.

Eclipses work their way through a pair of opposing signs, both bringing those signs together and balancing out their energy. There is a clearing process involved, and you get to move into a new phase of your life. In the summer of 2018, there will be an eclipse on the anniversary of the infamous grand cross and total solar eclipse of Aug. 11, 1999.

One point of tension in Aquarius is that it’s the sign of both conformity and individuality. With Leo as your opposite sign, you will tend to be drawn to individualistic people who have a strong sense of self. It is the opposition to Leo that focuses the self-determination of Aquarius; and, with eclipses passing through both signs, they are in a sense merging into one.

And if Aquarius is the sign of groups, your relationship to Leo cultivates the one-on-one kind of contact that is necessary to make any group dynamic, or any individual relationship, work. One of the great struggles of humanity is that people typically behave differently in a group situation compared to how they do alone or in one-on-one situations; and you are one of the people whose role it is to see this, and to understand it, and to work with it.

One quality of these eclipses going through your sign and your opposite sign (or your rising sign and 7th house) is to bring you to the individual level of relationships in any situation, and to understand the group dynamics of one-on-one relationships. As I’ve done my best to explain within the polyamorous community, every relationship is dyadic or pair-bonded, no matter who is involved; and every dyadic relationship is part of a group constellation, even if it’s all about private togetherness.

With each of these eclipses, you’ve made adjustments to the patterns associated with these things; or you’ve experienced shifts that were out of your control, and which you then had to deal with on some level. In each of these, going back about a year, notice the way that individual and collective dynamics play off one another.

This might include how the dynamics of your marriage influence, and are influenced by, the wider family or group of friends around you; how one friendship influences your wider circle of friends and vice versa; and the ways that you experience the pressure to conform to others, and what you do about it.

These dynamics all come back to your family pattern. Those dynamics are usually concealed from view, in part because they are taken for granted, and in part because the patterns are set when we’re so young; they’re part of us, and it’s difficult to assess your own brain. The connection between family pattern and Aquarius is specifically groups. The family is the first group, and it has some of the most powerful pattern-setting abilities of anything else we encounter in life.

You might sketch out the dynamics of that group, when you were younger: did your parents talk to one another, did they fight, or did they cooperate? Was the atmosphere among your siblings competitive or cooperative? How have these dynamics followed you into your adult life, and what have you done to enhance, change or compensate for them?

You may have grown up in an extremely competitive and jealous environment and now take a more laid back, cooperative approach to life. You may have grown up in a mellow environment and now take a competitive approach. It will be helpful to understand how these dynamics play out in your life.

Mars Retrograde and Jupiter in Scorpio

Continuing with two events that make this year distinctive, the real standout is Mars retrograde in your sign. This spans from June 26 through Aug. 27, with a warm-up and cool-down on each side. If there is one transit that takes up the theme of patterns directly, this is it.

Whenever there is a question of patterns, recognizing them is the next step. One way to recognize a pattern is to challenge it in some way, and that is what Mars retrograde will do. Or, seen another way, Mars retrograde will impose one pattern over another and reveal something about yourself that you have not seen before.

This may be frustrating, though you will get the opportunity to re-evaluate two elements of your life: one being your agenda, and the other being your habits. If we take Mars as a picture of agenda/desire, and Aquarius as patterns/habits, the question is: where do they meet? Do the two support one another? I reckon that you will be evaluating what you want to do, versus what you do, and sizing that up against the actual result that you get.

Most of this involves patterns of thought, as Mars represents your 3rd solar house (Aries); and your professional goals, as Mars also represents your 10th solar house, Scorpio. You might say this is a thought exercise in setting priorities, and then organizing yourself in such a way that you make them happen.

Along the way, you will figure out how you’re not doing that now, and get to make adjustments. Combined with eclipses, this is a rare opportunity to make actual changes, in a way that is both incremental and somewhat thorough. The retrograde only coves half of your sign; you can think of it as a partial review, but enough to teach you the skill set of doing the kind of evaluative work that leads to making decisions. The thing you can count on is relief from the condition of “this is how things are because this is how they are.”

You’ve had to do plenty of this kind of questioning with the South Node moving through your sign. You can think of the South Node as a transiting question mark, with an eraser head on it.

One interesting date to note is July 20, when the Mars and the South Node form a conjunction in Aquarius; another is Aug. 1, when Mars and Uranus form a square, from early Aquarius to early Taurus. (Uranus, too, will be conspiring to help you update your files.)

Mars retrograde begins in Aquarius, though it ends in Capricorn. So you are really getting beneath the surface of your reality. In the next section, I will cover other events in Capricorn that influence you. Those are approaching from the other direction, which is early Capricorn rather than late.

Through much of the year, Jupiter is in your 10th house, Scorpio. This will help you get some bearings professionally. The important thing to remember here is that you must focus on your own ambitions and intentions, rather than those of others. I see Jupiter in Scorpio as more of a private affair, despite the public nature of the 10th house (at least in one of its expressions). These two transits will work together to help you set some new priorities — and make sure that you have the persistence to bring them to fruition, or to lay the groundwork for doing so.

By November, Jupiter will have left Scorpio and ingressed Sagittarius; and Mars will be fully clear of Aquarius and beginning its trip across Pisces. The two meet in a square aspect on Nov. 19, which represents a significant turning point; what you might think of as a point of resolution and breakaway, or escape velocity from the extended process of Mars retrograde.

After enduring the last three years of Saturn in Sagittarius, Jupiter in Sagittarius will come as a relief. Yet the work you did during Saturn in Sagittarius, most of which involved securing your reputation and carving out your place in the world, will come to fruition in late 2018 and into 2019. It will become more obvious why you did all that work, and went through all that effort.

Transits to the 12th House and Capricorn

Two of the most influential signs in one’s chart are the one right before one’s sign, and the one right after. Capricorn precedes Aquarius (called the 12th solar house, or 12th whole-sign house if you have Aquarius rising) and Pisces follows your sign (called the 2nd solar house, or 2nd whole-sign house if you have Aquarius rising).

It turns out both of these houses contain most of the transits that are happening now, particularly the really interesting ones. And they play into many of the subjects I’ve described so far, though in nuanced ways.

I’ve never seen a comparison between the psychological themes of the 2nd and those of the 12th. We could start by saying they both tend to drop below the level of awareness, particularly in your chart. The 12th, the house of what’s gone missing and the deep subconscious, is often cryptic. For you, this house contains loads of information about family and ancestral matters.

The 2nd has several associations, all of which revolve around the core theme of what one possesses, and one’s available resources — which in psychological terms translates to how you feel about yourself. That is sometimes described as self-esteem or self-respect, terms I’m increasingly uncomfortable with because they are not descriptive enough for practical purposes.

Let’s take the 12th house first. It will help if you read my description of this house from a recent article I wrote in The Mountain Astrologer, which will also help you understand how all houses work. The 12th is by far the most misunderstood, and requires the most intuitive approach, and the most cautious approach, as the 12th is a sensitive place.

In your solar chart, you have Capricorn there (or, if you’re Aquarius rising, Cap intersects with your 12th). For our purposes, let’s interpret Capricorn in its entirety as a 12th house influence — as something working behind the scenes, in a blind spot. Those are the two most important properties of the 12th. Another is that it has its own logic — what I call dream logic — that makes sense within the dream, but when you start analyzing it in normal waking consciousness, it can seem really weird.

Capricorn is one of the most important signs relating to family, in the sense of family being a pillar of society. Wilhelm Reich described the family as the authoritarian miniature state, which trains and conditions people to participate in wider society. It does this by several means, including suppressing curiosity, creativity and vitality, mainly as a means of means of making children more manageable. With Capricorn here, there’s the implication that you deeply internalized these patterns. And what current transits suggest is that you’re in the process of unraveling them.

One reason Capricorn is so foundational for you is that it’s a Saturn-ruled sign; you have a lot in common with it. You can think of Capricorn as the feminine expression of Saturn and Aquarius as the masculine expression. These are imprecise terms; we could also say that Capricorn is the earthy expression of Saturn and Aquarius is the airy expression; or that Capricorn is nocturnal and Aquarius diurnal. However, you need both sides, and it’s all Saturn — though we have an illustration of how Capricorn is part of you, and a functioning part of your sign: the more inward-seeking one.

Saturn is now in Capricorn, so it’s become a 12th-house influence for you. That’s is a way of saying that it’s calling you inside yourself. This is likely to come as some relief, as the transit of Saturn through Sagittarius, your 11th house, had the feeling of being left out in the Sun too long, or living in a house without a roof. You are now getting a moment of psychic shade, which is an opportunity to reflect inwardly. Way too little of that happens in our era; this is a helpful opportunity for you.

Note that it only lasts two years, and is in essence preparation for Saturn entering your sign in March 2020, and for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in your sign, which happens in early 2021.

Saturn’s presence is an invitation to live from the inside out. It’s easy for you to live from the outside in, though that will not work at this stage of your maturity.

About 10 years ago, starting in 2008, you may have been called to do similar work, and you probably made some significant discoveries. This is when Pluto entered Capricorn, and many changes in society ensued — and you began to go through a shift. The thing is that Pluto, like the 12th, can work below the level of full awareness, until we bring it up to the surface and into the light — or as may be the case now, you follow Saturn in and go looking for it.

Rather than starting from scratch, you might check into what you were involved with back then; for example, any therapy, healing or spiritual processes you began. This may have been formal or informal; I strongly suggest you investigate your journals, artwork, or other personal writing in the years between 2008 and 2011 and check what you were thinking.

Part of why this will be helpful is that the discoveries you made, and may make in the coming few years, will have a tendency to disappear back into the realms from which they emerged.

It will also be worth checking in with the timeframe from late 2001 through 2005 — when Chiron was in Capricorn. That may be very instructive as a means for understanding what you’re experiencing now.

Special Transits in the 12th: Pholus and Quaoar

There are two additional transits to your 12th, which emphasize the family, heritage and ancestral quality of that house. One is Pholus, the second-discovered centaur, discovered in 1992; and the other is Quaoar, a Pluto-like planet discovered in 2002. They are both very slow moving and will be in your 12th through about 2040.

What is so interesting is that both of these planets address matters of family, origin and lineage. (I have covered them in more detail in the Libra and Capricorn readings than I will give here.)

Here’s my take. Pholus will act like a catalyst — a subtle force that influences your thinking in a big way. You will release something through this transit, particularly the first few years, and it will shift your inner orientation in a way that is irreversible. By shift, I mean awaken something in you that has a cascade effect on your life, and helps you understand your distant past. In a sense, the past will go from being something dead or useless and stashed in an attic, to something vivid and alive.

You may notice the activation of genetic memory, and of ancestors speaking to you through dreams, and the acquisition of physical artifacts that somehow come into your life. You may also notice that you start to experience, in a more direct way, certain issues that your forebears experienced, particularly their unresolved business. This may come up in a subtle way, or overt.

Usually, when someone is under a transit, I suggest that they take initiative and begin to live in a way that’s in harmony with that theme. This would include anything related to one of the topics in the paragraph above — from spending time on Ancestry.com to making contact with the physical objects owned by your forebears.

However, the best thing to do would be to speak with your oldest relatives, and get them to tell you anything they will talk about. Here’s one clue when speaking to elders: don’t ask for their opinion or analysis; ask them to tell you “what life was like.” You will get all the opinion and analysis you need, mingled in with a more verbose stream of stories and impressions. Remember that people usually talk about themselves when they talk, so you will find out where they stand personally.

The second planet involved is Quaoar. This carries what you might call a more spiritual theme, about the origins of the family and the tribe — and one’s own creation mythology. Everyone has a story of how they think they got to Earth. Even if it’s as simple as “I am in this family,” that’s still a story — though often it’s much more complex, involving the lives of one’s ancestors, various global migrations or diasporas, survival of wars and holocausts.

Often we will mythologize these things — that is, make up stories; and some people go on a quest for their roots. This is all the rage right now, using DNA testing, which might be something you want to do, though I consider it a relatively minor point. Bringing your body to where you feel called to go, not as a tourist but as a seeker or explorer, is much more helpful. Please skip the tour group and make your visit to wherever you go as unstructured as possible. Focus on feeling the land and hearing what it speaks to you. For that, you need patience and quiet.

Most of what Quaoar is talking about is your spiritual heritage and origins. If you do past-life work, remember that it’s a form of fiction and not fact; or you might say, a “potential metaphorical scenario.” I suggest that any past-life finding be substantiated by several sources of information, which might include direct memory, memory in trance or under hypnosis, and information from the dreamtime.

It is possible to use readings (for example, from the Akashic Records: “In theosophy and anthroposophy, the Akashic records are a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intent ever to have occurred in the past, present, or future”) — or astrology readings; though I consider the past-life information value to be especially questionable, particularly if it is specific rather than general. Nobody can look at your chart and honestly tell you “what you were in your past life.” For one thing, if reincarnation exists, we come back hundreds or thousands of times. It is not as simple as “you were a priest” or “you were a piano player.”

The multiple corroborated sources method of journalism must be applied to anything spiritual — if that thing applies to you, or you choose to live by it. No one reading is really “true,” unless it addresses matters you can actually respond to or verify. If something helps, that is a form of truth.

It’s also essential to account for confirmation bias in your study and findings — that is, establishing what you already believe. In essence, the spiritual path must be brought into the realm of reason and documented understanding, even though it’s still ultimately based on faith and personal evaluation, but that can be done within a structure. In spiritual matters, it’s essential to avoid bullshit at all costs.

The more of your spirituality that can be based on actual experience, the better. Your faith is different from mysticism, which is a love affair with what is mysterious. Often, though, mysticism seeks answers more than it seeks to stand face-to-face with the mysteries and the unknown, and hold that space with some courage.

Pisces: Water for the Water Bearer

Aquarius is an air sign. Most people don’t know this — including many Aquarians. The “aqua” comes from two possible sources: one is that the goddess depicted in Aquarius (who is possibly Nut, from Egyptian mythology) is holding an urn. The other is that she stands in the Nile, and holds a ruler called the normalica, which measures the depth of the river; this is associated with the flooding that fertilized the soil along the banks, which ensured that people could eat.

The contents of the urn are collective; the level of the river is a collective fact, to serve all the people. In this way, Aquarius intersects with the common good, though there is no guarantee that it will serve the common good: that much is up to you.

Pisces is your 2nd solar house. It is the water that you collect in your urn; it’s the level of your river, which ensures that the people can eat. The first of those people is you. The 2nd house is the house of your personal resources, on whatever level they may exist, spanning from your cash to your self-esteem to your talents to any other resource you might depend on.

There are plenty of planets there now; at the moment of this writing, a mix of slow- and fast-movers. There are several slow-movers that will remain in Pisces for many years; one is about to move on — Chiron. That is worth a brief review.

Chiron in Pisces began in 2010. This has two attributes: the Pisces aspect, and the 2nd house aspect. Chiron in Pisces often represents a direct quest for experience of a kind that is usually considered numinous or mystical. In other words, the ‘ooooh aaaah’ factor is never enough for Chiron. The thread must go through the needle. There must be a living, active purpose. Direct contact or conveyance of knowledge, and the use of that knowledge, is the only thing that will satisfy someone with this placement or transit, and with that, Chiron will cooperate gladly.

The 2nd house aspect is about taking possession of what you learn, and using what you know. With Chiron in the 2nd in any form (natal, transit, progressed) there can be questions of self-respect, or a crisis of self-esteem. You have been through something these past seven years that has given you a depth of contact with yourself that is unique in all your life.

Chiron is about to move on to a new sign, and will leave behind in Pisces several different slow-movers including Nessus, Neptune and Borasisi. These all have a similar resonance, though different expressions. That resonance is about questioning what is true for you and what is not. Here’s the thing to remember: you gained most of what you need to know through the Chiron transit. Then in the next decade or so, you will relearn that — though it will help if you remember what you learned the first time.

Nessus can be a persistent source of doubt. Yet of itself, it brings nothing: it’s amplifying what is there, and what is there is likely to be what you inherited. This is one reason why doing your ancestral work is so important. You have to get underneath the issue of sin.

Nessus in the 2nd has a tendency to self-blame, rather than to take responsibility. You must make that conversion. The operative key phrase for Nessus is “the buck stops here,” meaning that where Nessus turns up for you, it is your turn to deal the cards.

The other major point in Pisces is Neptune, a transit that began in 2011-2012, and which is now half over.

Note that after Mars is done transiting Aquarius, it will enter Pisces, making conjunctions to all the points there through the end of 2018 and into 2019. The first of these will be Mars conjunct Nessus on Nov. 25.

This is about taking action on your discoveries of this year. The essential message of Mars transiting Pisces is taking the steps to be aware of any self-destructive values that you may have, and get a handle on them. Mars and Pisces have an odd relationship, with Mars gaining dignity (in classical astrology) by being the ruler of the water signs. This is saying that you have the power to make the changes you need to make, if you are determined and persistent.

Venus Retrograde in Scorpio

Late in the year, there is one last major transit: Venus retrograde in Scorpio, which ends in late Libra. The pattern here is similar to Mars retrograde, in that it begins in a fixed sign (Scorpio) and ends in a cardinal sign (Libra). Another similarity is that Mars is exalted in Capricorn (where that retrograde ends) and Venus rules Libra (where that retrograde ends), so in a sense both planets are headed toward a kind of spawning ground.

The fixed signs are the best at holding patterns. They all function in a similar way; they are the foundation of stability in the astrological system.

Scorpio holds the pattern of your professional ambitions and reputation, which is thankfully solid; sometimes so solid you can take it for granted. My take on this transit is that Venus is seeking some original intention of your professional life. There is some spiritual root idea that is guiding you and that you are seeking. This root idea is beneath the structures you’ve formed in your professional life. The trip from Scorpio to Libra will help you get in touch with this core concept.

Is it in some way internationally related? Is publishing involved? Is there some idea related to your spiritual or religious beliefs? All of these are probable. So, too, is your expression of your being as art rather than as labor.

Your life is made of patterns, and beneath them, there’s something vibrant and alive; and you want to get in contact with that feeling, or state of being — whatever it may be. There is something more balanced than what you have now; and finding that balance, you might say, is the whole point of the astrology you’re about to experience.


Signing off from The Art of Becoming, 2:20 am, Feb. 28, 2018, Kingston.

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Chart 1 for Aquarius. Click image for full-size version. View glyph key here.

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Chart 2 for Aquarius. Click image for full-size version. View glyph key here.

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Hand-drawn chart for Aquarius. Click image for full-size version.

Aquarius 2017 Midyear Reading

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One Response to Your Life is Made of Patterns

  1. Paula Ioanide says:

    This reading is astounding for its resonance and clarity. There are so many points that I’ve already been feeling, but this reading helps reassure and crystallize the feeling that I’m on the right track. Key phrases that are going on the wall as points of remembrance: “[Pisces] is the water that you collect in your urn; it’s the level of your river, which ensures that the people can eat. The first of those people is you.” Also, “So, too, is your expression of your being as art rather than as labor.” And finally, “There is something more balanced than what you have now.”

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