Semi-Private Backbend Series with Angela Kukhahn at Yogaworks Southbay

Angela Kukhahn in King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) Photo by Jasper Johal

 

Hi Yogis!

For the month of September I will be doing a semi-private backbend series. The mini-workshops will take place at Yogaworks, El Segundo, CA every Sunday in September from 10-11am. If you have ever wanted to deepen your backbends, but didn’t know where to start, this series is for you! 

Benefits of Backbends:

Get Rid of Back Pain

Improve Breathing

Strengthen Legs

Increase Flexibility of Spine

Relieve Anxiety and Stress

Compress and Detox Kidneys, Liver and Adrenals

Alleviate Depression

Increase Feelings Of Hope, Happiness and Courage

Hope to see you there! 

 

 

5 Reasons You Should Be Wearing A Mala

92101c960cf511e3949522000ae8002b_75 Reasons You Should Be Wearing A Mala
1. It is a reminder of the infinite in the midst of the mundane. When I wear my mala it is a reminder of something true and good, regardless of whatever else may be happening at that moment. It reminds me to take the high road, even during those times when let’s be honest, I would rather kick someone in the shins. It reminds me that there are forces greater than me working together for my good. That I am a spiritual being in this human experience. That even though I may not see it at the moment things are working out exactly as they should.  
2. They have healing qualities. My Tiny Devotions Mala is made of Rudraksha beads and the Guru Bead is an Amethyst. They say that crystals choose you, and in my case I am starting to believe it is true. This is the third Amethyst that I have been given this year. They are said to have a spiritual quality to them aiding in meditation, restful sleep, conquering addiction and healing of all types. 
3. They are stylish and beautiful and add a bohemian flair to any outfit you put on. I am constantly in yoga clothes, in fact without yoga clothes on people barely even recognize me. Sometimes it is challenging to look stylish and cute when you are constantly wearing some type of spandex and sweating all day. A beautiful mala is just the thing to add a little flair to any outfit whether you are teaching a yoga class or headed out for the evening. 
4. They are excellent for meditation adding a tangible and tactile way to count your breaths or chants. I am a bit of a baby meditator and have only been meditating now since last October. As anyone that has tried meditating knows staying present is hard work! One minute you are meditating and the next thing you know your mind has wandered and you are obsessing over what you are going to make for dinner later. Malas have  long been used to keep the hands busy and help to focus the mind by running your fingers over each bead as you meditate, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale…you get the idea.
5. Stones create a magnetic field that our body responds to. Crystal healing works on the electromagnetic field around the body, known as the aura.  Any form of disharmony or disease in our lives can cause blockages or other disturbances in our aura, which may eventually manifest as illness and dis-ease in the body. Wearing a crystal balances your electromagnetic field keeping your body happy and healthy.

To find your own beautiful mala check out www.tinydevotions.com!

June Astrology For Us All; Finding A New Way To Love by Chani Nicholas

June Astrology For Us All; Finding A New Way To LoveIn her book All About Love; New Visions bell hooks explores and challenges our often-limited notions of Love.  One of her primary questions is; where is it?  As a nation we certainly have a difficult time speaking about any kind of love that isn’t sappy or overly romantic (and therefore delusional) and we have very few role models for the kind of strength of character it takes to truly Love as a daily practice. Love is not something we can read about or fantasize about in order to intact any real change.  Love as it is lacking today is a verb; it is in the doing and the be-ing of life. That is one of the many gifts I receive when practicing astrology and teaching Yoga, the modalities themselves lend me the lenses of compassion and understanding that my personality often neglects.  Most of our modern structures and systems are built to divide us, to alienate us and separate us from each other, from nature, from Love.
Venus the planet of Love, relationships, beauty, erotic energy, attraction and creative female power has been retrograde, and therefore encouraging us to review this terrain since May 15th.  On June 5th at 6:09 pm She will come in-between the earth and sun and will appear as a black dot making Her way across the face of the most luminous body in our solar system.  As the sun offers us light, warmth and life, what could this mean for Venus?  More importantly, what could this mean for us?  Ms. hooks writes, “Without justice there can be no love.”  This is an interesting mantra for Venus at the moment because her transit is so closely linked to the larger 2012 astrology that is responsible for the rise of so many of the current social justice movements.  There is obviously so little justice in the structures of the world today; our food supply being treated as a great science experiment by corporations, our rights to natural and alternative medicines are being stripped from us daily and our right to freedom is being radically reduced. And yet we do so little.  Perhaps because we are facing a massive recession, we are over worked and underpaid and in addition to it we are so far from living with Love at the center of our lives and communities. How much of our days, our time, our energy is applied in cultivating more Love in the world?
With a Lunar eclipse (June 4th at 4:04 am) mere hours before the transit of Venus to the sun we are having both of the visible female bodies of our solar system involved in some major cosmic dancing. Patriarchal consciousness teaches that love is a form of ownership and an issue of property, a business transaction between families depicting the female as commodity traded.  What does female consciousness have to say about the topic?  In matriarchal cultures monogamy isn’t a core cultural norm or belief, how odd than that these days we have this Bridezilla archetype of a woman so invested in becoming a wife that she looses all sense and heart.
Saturn and Venus both finish up their retrograde cycles by the end of the month, within two days of each other.  Saturn is also in its last months of Libra between now and October (not to happen again for another 30 years) rounding out the last two and a half years of it’s journey through this sign.  Libra, one of the signs connected to Venus, teaches us about relating through romance and also through justice.  I am always so grateful to those friends in my life that have a strong Libran signature in their chart, they have so much to teach me about connection and extending oneself to another.  Libran energy doesn’t hold itself back (that is Saturn and Capricorns domain); its M.O. is to initiate relationship.  Saturn here is exalted meaning it’s happy in this sign.  Saturn in Libra teaches us about developing all sides of ourselves (anima/animus in Jungian speak) in order to be able to be in a functional relationship.  Saturn brings meaning and a feeling of responsibility to whatever it touches.  Saturn’s last months in Libra has pushed gay marriage onto the presidential platform (with the help of Venus retrograde in Gemini, the sign of androgyny) asking us; what relationships have meaning and why?  Saturn defines space and creates boundaries and the culmination of this energy is demanding that as a nation we define what marriage really is.
In The End Of Manhood John Stoltenberg writes, “Justicebetween people is perhaps the most important connection people can have.” The only path to justice is a dedication to becoming conscious of how we affect others and an admission of our transgressions matched with an appropriate amends when applicable.  Saturn in Libra, and Venus being infused with solar power is pushing these topics to the forefront.  How can we use the freedom and power that we do have to become allies for those who do not? This societal review of justice in relationships extends to all of the people we are in relationships with and I include institutions here because Saturn rules them.  Therefore our relationship to the bank, the state, the police and the government apply.  Saturn is always asking us to claim our power and be our own authority, Libra always wants to do things with a loving style that promotes peace and balance.  How can we stand for Love, justice and equality?  In her book Making the Gods Work for You, Caroline Casey writes, “He who hesitates gets bossed!”  Let us not hesitate to Love, let us instead Love so fiercely, so deeply, so completely that there is no other reality but freedom and equality for all.Many blessings,
ChaniHoroscopes
all art by http://www.kathleenkaller.comAries and Aries Rising

Your area of the body is the head.  Sometimes this relates to being hotheaded and certainly reflects the main sport of your mascot, the ram, locking horns and going to battle.  Another way to see this is that most of us are born head first, and since Aries is the first sign and the great initiator of the zodiac the expression “Head first” belongs to you.  I bring this up because this month it is your head, or more specifically your mind that is being re-arranged and rather than seeing this as an identity crisis of sorts I would encourage you to see this as an opportunity to use your intellect as you have never before.  Know the areas in which you have a weak perception of yourself or others and seek counsel from your trusted guides (in body or not).  Humankind doesn’t have the time to luxuriate in negative thinking, it’s lazy and slow and we are deep in the quickening of time.  We “mustn’t grumble”, as the English say and if you must, do it intensely, intently and intentionally as a form of exorcism and to gather appropriate data on the state of your Chicken Little brain.  Once disgruntlement is brought into the light of awareness swiftly move into gratitude.  Caroline Cassey calls this the “Hurumphitude Composter”.  Hurumphitude inhibits us from playing in the game of life, and if there is one thing that it’s time for you to do, it’s to get in the game of life and play ball.  Onward!

Taurus and Taurus Rising

Feel blessed and muster as much gratitude as you possibly can for every experience as of late that has illuminated any and all self-worth issues.  I know that this can be a tricky topic for you because you are inherently so confident, or at the very least that is what you are brilliant at projecting to the rest of us.  What is much more difficult for you to do is to let go, but this full moon eclipse on June 4th is asking you to do just that.  We cannot move forward with the weight of our past tied to our ankles, strapped to our backs or invisibly carried in our bodies.  Your self-worth is not determined by how many relationships you hold onto or how many people depend on you.  However the more you can help to empower others to be there own authority the more self-respect and love you will be able to cultivate for yourself.  Notice how letting go of your old values and out-dated beliefs around what role you play in your current relationships invokes a spontaneous sense of health and well-being.  In short you have out-grown who you thought you were and you are being asked to commit to stepping into the unknown in order to honor yourself.

Gemini and Gemini Rising

I have dreamt twice now of the astrological event on June 5th when Venus will conjunct the sun (visible from earth and an event that will never happen again in our life times).  In the first dream there was an experience of being divided into two (very Gemini) and then fused back together.  In the second, I dreamt of being filled with the light of the sun, infused with solar energy.  It feels to me that the first dream informs the second; sometimes we need the experience of separation in order to individuate, and only in an individuated state can we truly allow ourselves to be infused with new energy.  Last June was the beginning of this initiation for you and those of you born around June 4th or 5th (give or take a couple days) are right in the middle of your trip into the underworld, but don’t despair!  This is where the gold is if you can stay with the process.  Your only job for the first week of June is to ask to know what will set you free and then listen, deeply, for the answers.  There is a beautiful meditation that I encourage you to practice, here is a link to a version from Jack Kornfieldhttp://www.soundstrue.com/shop/Guided-Meditations-for-Self-Healing/3059.productdetails if this doesn’t resonate with you find a version that does.  Basically the meditation has you sit for a moment in a comfortable seat, finding your body and breath.  You then imagine a great healing temple, take time to see it, feel it, smell it and listen to the sounds of it.  Enter the temple and sit for a time, eventually the spirit of this temple will greet you, and you will greet it.  If you have a question you may ask it, if you have pain you may ask for help with it, anything you need help with you can bring it to this spirit and receive their healing powers.  When the session is complete you will know, give thanks to this being and know that you can come back anytime.

Cancer and Cancer Rising

There is an undeniable ceremonial nature to life that we have mostly forgotten about in the modern world.  Most things we do during the day are ritualistic in their nature.  We wake up and our routines take over, and mostly we mindlessly stumble through them. This month my homework for you is to add an intention to your everyday activities.  There is still much going on behind the scenes for you, you are integrating recently discovered talents and long lost skeletons, and my wish for you is that with the passing of everyday there is less emphasis on what you have lost and more emphasis on what you are secretly creating.  I suggest that you use the first three weeks of June to research yourself, go on a great expedition of self-discovery. Investigate your emotional and relationship lives, but approach it as a form of ritual.  Honoring the unseen elements of Spirit and Nature, ask for help and guidance in your quest.  Clean out closets as an offering to align with the universe and give yourself to the task paying attention to what emerges in the process.  There is a rebirth coming for you on the Summer Solstice (June 20th) and the time taken from now until then to do a little extra psychic housecleaning will be well worth the time spent.

Leo and Leo Rising

One of the many spontaneous eruptions of the Occupy movements that warm my heart are all the teaching communities that have sprung up at the base camps around the world.  Lecturers, poets, academics, artists, teachers of all professions (institutionalized and not) are actively engaging in trading knowledge.  What are emerging worldwide through this movement are teaching/learning communities.  Folks from all walks of life engaged in exchanging information from many different lineages of knowledge.  Of course on a broader scale the movement is the very articulation of bringing hidden information out into the public discourse in an act of solidarity for freedom.  From looking at your charts one question comes to mind for you this month, how are you actively engaging in your community?  On a deeper level the question is, how are you engaging your feelings about how you are engaging in community?  My advice to you this month is to suspend your beliefs about how you do or do not fit in and instead align yourself with the part of you that many traditions call the Witness.  Simply observe how you get in your own way in groups of friends, social gatherings and movements of any kind.  I say this because you are being infused with the light of your astronomical body, the sun, this month in that area of your chart.  Healing in this area may come from a woman, or from someone in touch with his or her feminine energy.  Focus on receiving in social situations rather than getting caught up in the tendency to perform.  Relax, you are loved and appreciated by the universe itself simply because you have incarnated.

Virgo and Virgo Rising

If you ever find yourself in Northern California, one of the most mind-altering journeys you can take is up to Sequoia National Park.  This park is home to five out of ten of the largest trees on the planet and to stand in their midst is a religious experience.  It’s also the home of the mighty General Sherman tree that is estimated to be 2,300-2,700 years of age.  When you stand under a tree like that and realize that not only has it stood through most of our known history, but it also comes from a seed smaller than the nail on your pinky finger it’s humbling to say the least.  There is magic in that seed, a potential so immense that it dwarfs most known possibilities and has the ability to withstand the tests of time.  This is the power that Virgo contains, the power that is contained in the seed.  It may not be bold or flashy, but it is not to be underestimated in it’s potential.  In your meditations this month I would like you to use this image of a giant Sequoia taking root in the area of your deepest calling, your true career.  In the coming months trust that the seed has been planted and hold the vision of those friendly giants, steadily reaching for the heavens rooted in a wide, interconnected and vast root system.  Your sign is famous for not seeing the forest for the trees, but this one I recommend paying attention to.

Libra and Libra Rising

This month your homework is to watch this wonderful little video of world-renowned yoga teacher Annie Carpenter speaking on Avidya (not seeing clearly or not having correct knowledge).  Click here to watch:http://youtu.be/vQdTzEvs5nU Basically your chart is speaking of a split in the mind, or a truth raising to the surface.  It isn’t always pleasant to experience where we have gone dim, where we have disconnected or disassociated, but it is necessary when walking a spiritual path. There is an adjustment that you are being asked to make and part of it may be about admitting where and when you get confused about your own aspirations.  Libra energy tends towards beauty and light, it strives for balance and sometimes balance has to come from the darker parts of us, especially if that is what we try to avoid.  Nothing in the universe is only light and to truly embrace Libra is to except both sides, now, in this moment and every moment hereafter.  As Annie suggests the teaching ask us to focus on what is everlasting, not on what is bound to decay.  Orient your mind to this ultimate source of knowledge and equality this month and be content with what is.

Scorpio and Scorpio Rising

“I don’t want my life to be defined by what is etched on a tombstone. I want it to be defined in what is etched in the lives and hearts of those I’ve touched.”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

When having worked through fear of abandonment, betrayal or being devoured by another, there is no one, no one who does intimacy like Scorpio.  It’s your deal, your talent, and your place in which to shine.  True intimacy starts with ourselves, and practices like yoga, creating art, dance, singing or any other modality that brings you into direct relationship with yourself is an exercise of your talent.  Meditation of course is one of the most intimate practices we can engage, the simplicity of following our breath and continually placing our awareness there is the way we learn to put our focus on ourselves instead of wondering incessantly about what everyone else is doing or thinking about us.  Though this months big astrological events have to do with how you are intimate in your relationships, my reading is that none of that can be of any value until you develop a regular and consistent relationship with yourself.  This month I feel you have ample opportunity from the cosmos to align yourself with the angels of self-love and the guardians of compassion and with their help I encourage you to see the divinity in every life partner you have.  It doesn’t matter if the relationship is romantic in nature or not, it only matters that you practice seeing the God/dess, Divinity, Spirit in each person you are in contact with.  Try this and you will find that much of your anxiety and feelings of isolation is eased.

Sagittarius and Sagittarius Rising

I hate to be a broken record but who can argue with the planets?  The focus this month, especially early in the month is still on the self/other axis of your chart.  Relationship issues will most likely come to a head early in the month (if they need to) and if they are not conscious for you or your partner there can very well be eruptions that feel out of the blue, or dreams that inform you about what material is lurking beneath the surface.   This in no way has to be a negative realization; it could be a deeply intimate and loving exchange between partners or a melting of usual boundaries.  However there are indications in your chart that you feel polarized by your own personal desires and the desires of your mate, lover, partner or any person you are in an intimate relationship with.  If that rings true for you I say use it!  The universe is conspiring to get you to admit what it is you really want and need from life right now and I suggest listening to yourself especially if you think a desire may cause strife in one of your relationships.  This may just be a pre-conceived notion that holds you back and instead of being held hostage to your past patterns use these first two weeks of June to explore new ways of being you.  The June 4th eclipse of the moon is in your sign and it’s not always an easy transit to experience.  Often we bear witness to a part of ourselves that we have been ignorant to so be extra cautious and sensitive to your needs and desires.

Capricorn and Capricorn Rising

I am very excited to see what comes to fruition for you this month in the workplace.  The first couple of weeks of June are invigorating to your daily routines and work life.  Make doing little tasks and the details of the day sacred, honor the small steps and the pieces of the process.  The Goddess of Love and Wealth, Venus, is conjuncting or being infused with the suns rays on June 5th in your 6th house of work and service.  Goddesses, as one of my teachers told me, loves to be sung to, they love to be honored and remembered.  Your work place is your temple this month; so let that be reflected in your physical space.  Make your desk into an altar/altered spaced, get your car washed and play inspiring music on the way to work, honor your computer by smudging it and even if subtle, dress as though you are going to meet the divine when going to work.  Later this month your planet, Saturn, turns direct after being retrograde since early February.  Saturn has been in your solar tenth house of career and true vocation, and this retrograde period has slowed things down in the workplace, but on a deeper level Saturn has been asking you if you are on the right track.  This transit denotes an accumulation of experiences and if you are in alignment you are experiencing a certain amount of esteem for the work that you have accomplished.  From this place you can see where it is you need to go next, and these past months have been a sort of double-checking of your intentions.  You are preparing to move forward, but before you get there, honor the present and the details here.

Aquarius and Aquarius Rising

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” ~ Edgar Degas

There is something about your perception of the world around you that is changing and I want you to pay close attention to the qualities of that shift of consciousness.  Your art, whatever modality it may be in, is a key point to integrating the energies of the transits early in June.  When I say art, I include romantic encounters and lovemaking in general.  A horoscope is written for one twelfth of the population and therefore it has to be open to interpretation for many, but this month your tribe needs to express something deep within its soul.  If you feel that you aren’t artistic than in some way feed those sensibilities with other peoples creations, but pay close attention to where it brings your imagination and let your mind dream about the possibility of creating works yourself.  Our artistic expressions, no matter how rudimentary afford us the opportunity to experience the subtler parts of our personality.  Art doesn’t lie, even when we try to.  We cannot hide behind our creations as everything we make exposes us in ways our ego won’t allow.

Pisces and Pisces Rising

“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Gabriel García Márquez: a Life

Astrologer Lynn Bell explains mutable signs (of which you are one) as “the movement between things”.  Pisces moves “between things” the most.  Its glyph is two fishes moving in opposing directions, one swimming with the current and one swimming against it.  Your movement this month is within, and this turning in of psychic energies is essential for your mental, emotional and spiritual well being.  Mutable signs disperse energy so that a new cycle may eventually begin, and this is a crucial and often misunderstood part of the process of life.  We cannot always be on top, starting or sustaining, we cannot always be in the light of day.  The full moon eclipse on June fourth will happen in your tenth house of career and lime light and the very next day the transit of Venus across the sun is happening in your fourth house, which is to say the interior of your being.  So even though it seems as though events are pulling you out into the world early in the month, trust your gut to then swim against the popular current of extroversion and allow yourself respite in your private and secret life, for it is here that the real action happens this month.

Your Hands In Handstand: 7 Easy Tips For Better Handstands!

When it comes to handstand there is no better place to start than your hands!

Sure, it seems pretty obvious. However the hands are sometimes an afterthought for students whose minds are preoccupied with trying to get their bottom to float above their head.

For the frequent flyer however (see inspiring photo to your left of my teacher Krista Cahill by the incredible photographer Jasper Johal) the hands and wrists always come first when attempting handstand!

Like anything, it’s best to start at the bottom and work up. In this case the foundation is your hands and like any good foundation it must be laid properly.

The worst possible news for a house is having cracks in its foundation and the worst news for a handstand are poorly positioned hands. (A close second is a poorly positioned attitude, actually a bad attitude is worse…but I digress)

At any rate you are headed for trouble fast if you don’t get your digits and palms properly set up, so listen close future flyers!

Tips For Your Hands in Handstand

  1. Place your hands shoulders width apart with your hands slightly turned out.
  2. Spread your fingers wide apart. Reach the fingers forward and apart to spread the weight evenly. Uneven weight causes problems for the wrist. Your fingers should spread evenly away from the palm like the spokes on a wagon wheel.
  3. Pay special attention to your index finger and thumb rooting down into the mat.
  4. Then with your hands firmly planted on your sticky mat try to squeeze them towards one another like you are trying to wrinkle your mat between your hands. The mat will not actually wrinkle  but this action engages the muscles of the hands, forearms and biceps creating stability.
  5. Push into your hands! Trust that they will hold the weight of your body. (Be mindful however not to push out of your shoulders, keep your collarbones wide and your shoulder blades firmly planted on your upper back! More about that later)
  6. Do not let the wrists lift! As you jump from the back of the mat it’s tough not to let the wrists lift, but do your best. I took a workshop with master ashtangi David Swenson and he kept saying over and over again to “put the weight in your hands”. This is key! Imagine your hands are cemented to the floor, make them super heavy as you practice jumping into handstand!
  7. Grip with your fingertips. Think of them as your emergency brakes. These little guys will help you not to “Go flying over the handlebars” as my teacher Brock Cahill likes to say. (Your primary brakes are your core and serratus anterior muscle. Secondary are your forearms and fingertips.)

Happy Handstanding Yogis!

Yoga Inversions Pre-Flight Warmup

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
― Leonardo da Vinci

The Pre-Inversion Warmup

Before practicing inversions it is essential you warmup and stretch the muscles you will be using.
Your best bet if you are practicing at home is to warm up with a few Surya A’sSurya B’s and then do a few of my favorite pre-flight stretches and strength building postures listed below.
Happy flying yogis!

Keep Calm and Carry On: Equanimity of Interest

“To cultivate equanimity we practice catching ourselves when we feel attraction or aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.”

What is Equanimity of Interest?
Equanimity of interest means we are just as excited about working the nuances of down dog as we are about working something we are really good at or the bigger, “grander” postures. (think handstand scorpion)
The difference between a beginner and an advanced yogi is the ability to stay focused, interested and calm no matter what discomfort arises.
Can you bump up against your limitations without running away? This may be the most important “yoga practice” of all.
Equanimity is the state of beingness where we are unattached and undisturbed. This does not mean we are aloof, on the contrary, we remain fully engaged in the present moment without feeling that we need to control the outcome.
We are not just interested in the postures that stroke our egos or bring us pleasure. At the same time we don’t avoid those either.
It is standing in the middle between avoidance and attraction. It’s neither heads or tails, it’s when the quarter lands on the edge and balances.
Our attention and interest in the “fine tuning” of the basic poses so to speak are the ultimately the building blocks we need build the bigger more “impressive” postures.
Patience, practice and dedication are the keys!
“When one is fully aware, one does not attach to the world, rather sees the world.” – The Bhagavad Gita 

Astrology For Us All; Lunar Beltane, Eclipses and You by Chani Nicholas

Astrology For Us All;
Lunar Beltane, Eclipses and You
by Chani Nicholas

Today’s full moon is one of the largest moons of the year, it’s a full moon at perigee which puts it very close to the earth. She has added influence over our emotions, moods, bodies and daily rituals when full and even more so when she is this close to us. This moon is called Lunar Beltane as May 1st marked one of the four cross quarter days (it falls in between the spring equinox and the summer solstice) of our year. It is celebrated in many pagan festivals originating in Europe as Beltane, Bealtine or Walpurgisnacht. If you are of European decent these can be powerful rituals and days to participate in, especially if you feel disconnected from your religion of origin as these are quite possibly your great-great-great ancestors traditions. Celebrating in ways that reflect our ancestral lines is what Native American healer and educator Eduardo Duran suggests we do to move deeper into our center. This time of year symbolizes the body of the Goddess coming to maturity and is reflected by the bodies of young women starting their menses. The Earth/Goddess is now at the height of her fecundity ready to receive the male (think phallic shape of the May pole and the weaving of the ribbon around it being symbolic of the union of male and female). In earth based cultures sexuality is an extension of the cycles of the earth and therefore sacred, as is the monthly blood of a woman.

This cross-quarter day falls within the sun sign Taurus and the full moon (Lunar Beltane) in Scorpio tonight at 8:35 pm PDT. Both Taurus and Scorpio are signs that promote the investigation of resources, worth, sensuality, sexuality and the power of our bodies. This festival is not about sexual orientation, or valuing one orientation over another, it’s simply the act of opposite energies coming together to create life. This union can happen within the body of a single person or in the union of any coupling no matter what the gender of the people involved. This festival is an affirmation of life and the celebration of the turning of the season. At this time the Goddess/earth is impregnated and will give birth on the summer solstice when gardens and crops are overflowing with abundance.
Functioning mostly as a linear and chronological society we tend to view history on one long continuum. Festivals and seasonal rituals remind us about the mysteries and the power of living life as a cyclical experience. When connected to the rhythms around us we are reminded of our inner process and can then link our personal lives to the great mystery of creation.
May 1st is celebrated as International Workers’ Day and there was a global uprising of protests for the fair treatment of the world’s working class this year as part of the Occupy movement. There were peaceful and non-peaceful protests, poetry readings, educational seminars, riots and marches, everything that this springs astrology is pointing to. This time could be summed up as “Eclipse Season” which is a sort of spiritual spring training. Before heading into eclipse season, Venus, Goddess of Love, Attraction, Passion and Relationships will go retrograde on May 15th. Representing our values, our sense of self-worth, what we own, what we produce, art, culture and that great mystery of partnership, this retrograde period will have us reviewing all of that material on a personal level and on a societal level. Do we value human life or profit? Do we value our own opinions or do we let corporations define that for us? Do we value community and relationship or commodity and greed? Days after Venus goes retrograde we will have the first of 3 eclipses like events starting with the new moon/Solar eclipse on May 20th.
The solar eclipse is followed by a full moon/lunar eclipse on June 4th and on June 5th Venus will conjunct the sun, another eclipse-like event that will not happen again in our life times. Eclipses are wild cards and points of activation for us personally and globally. There is nothing to do in preparation for them besides meditating, doing your spiritual practice and keeping them in mind as we are already feeling their effects. It is interesting to note that in traditional Western astrology there are only two planetary bodies that are related to Goddesses and they are the moon and Venus. This May/June both are eclipsing the sun, the primary light source of our solar system (that is seen as a male) and the integration point for the energies of the rest of the planets. Venus is the focalized creative power of the moon, and she will be infuses and energized by this transit to the sun. This transit is asking us to move deeper into our center, into our passions and into our creativity. Stay true to what you need, what you want to attract and what holds worth to you personally. Keep a watchful eye for habits of putting others first instead of taking care of yourself, co-dependency in relationships and resentments that build in you as a result. Consider how you can cultivate a greater appreciation for your unique contribution to the world and see how that is reflected back to you in your paycheck and in your partnerships. Take time to take care, take a step back to gain perspective, take moments to reflect and take heart; you are not alone!
Lunar Beltane Blessings and Prayers of Freedom and Peace For All!
Chani

Horoscopes

Aries and Aries Rising

What has been of greatest concern for your development as of late is following your impulse and allowing yourself to be consumed in experience that brings you closer to knowing yourself. There has been a great need for you to act on instinct and go with any sort of illuminating idea that you get, carving your path step by step. You are being fortified this month by the arrival of Pallas Athene, Goddess of Wisdom and Justice, in your sign. Her astrological glyph is a diamond on top of a cross symbolizing the Spear of the Protectress. She will be with you until October as a great mobilizing force gifting you the courage to initiate what you know you must. I hope you are keeping a journal of what inspires you and that you are letting your ideas cross pollinate with like-minds. Mid May Mars (your planet) will trine Pluto helping you to focus your desires and direct your energies with great power towards what you want. The Full moon on the 5th of May could bring some business venture or romantic partnership to a head. Remember it’s the Beltane moon, a time when we honor the Goddess and all her sensual spring appetites (use birth control if you don’t want an extra plate and the chanuka/quanza/christmas/holiday table). The new moon/solar eclipse on the 20th of May will be in your third house of siblings, communications and your environment. I suggest not picking a fight with your sister, brother or neighbor and instead changing up the scenery. Go for a drive or short trip, air yourself out and take Pallas Athene with you. Venus is going retrograde in your third house as well mid month which will “help” you (it’s good to use positive words for challenging times) review your communications in relationships especially with aforementioned peoples of the third house. All things considered, take advantage of the first two weeks of May and the brainstorms it will bring.

Taurus and Taurus Rising

This is quite a birthday year for you and I suspect you are feeling some change blowing about. There is a transit that in early June that you are most likely feeling now, Venus conjunct the sun. This transit should enhance your ability to focus your desires and I suggest getting as cozy as you can with what you hold dear, if you were to die this time next year what could you do for the next 365 days that would be valuable? Jupiter will finish up its cycle in your sign as of June 12th so there is still time for you to play the cosmic lottery, roll the dice and keep asking for what you want. The end of May and the beginning of June could cause a lot of upheaval for us all, it’s impossible to predict what exactly will happen but we are all being asked to get really real with our world and ourselves. The important thing for you to remember is that change is uncomfortable and somewhat unnatural for you, but it’s not bad. I have an experiment for you: on a sticky note write, “With every transformation comes the opportunity to build a better foundation.” And then stick it on your laptop screen or mirror and every time you feel yourself digging your heels in and being resistant, read it. The full moon on May fifth is a big one for you as it’s in your opposite sign of Scorpio highlighting your opposite nature and possibly your other half if you are in a relationship(s). The new moon on May 20th is also an eclipse which could cause challenges for you in terms of finances and/or real-estate so get all of that as secure as early in the month as you possibly can. Your planet, Venus is going retrograde on May 15th in the same house and she rules our wealth, values, resources and relationships, another reason to get finances in order ASAP.

Gemini and Gemini Rising

Without being overly dramatic, it would be a wild understatement to say that this is a big month for you. This is one of those months that will bring events that will affect you for years to come; I would say about four years on the outside and at the very least the next six months. More than what ever outside events are to occur, what is important now is your reactions to them. Think of this time as a cosmic black belt test, the events truly are secondary and they are only happening so that you may see how far you have come and in what ways you can better take care of yourself. On the 15th of May Venus goes retrograde in your sign and then on the 20th of May the Sun enters your sign with a new moon and a solar eclipse, how’s that for a party? Most of you have been feeling the push into unfamiliar territory and see yourself at a cross roads, tipping point or crucifix of sorts. Prepare yourself for the journey that this spring will bring, as if you are moving through dragon territory. Dragons are symbols of power, wisdom, longevity and magic but they are not beasts to be taken lightly. Tread this ground with purpose and caution, taking each step as an oath to yourself to move closer to your center.

Cancer and Cancer Rising

One of the most important things you could do this month is write a list of all the things about yourself that you try to hide. Also write a list of all the things about yourself that you feel like you have healed. Write yet another list of things that you felt shame about when you were a child. As you write notice all the feelings that arise, especially difficult ones like fear, remorse and guilt, don’t go into those feelings but just keep your eye on them. Pay close attention to the things that give you the most emotional charge as you write them. This month your astrology is asking you to understand what it is you hide from yourself. Sometimes the things we feel we have overcome are still alive and well in fantastic disguise. Part of your growth is being stunted by the energy it takes to keep a part of yourself or your behavior hidden and this month’s eclipse on May 20th and Venus’s retrograde cycle (May 15th-June 27th) help you shed some light. Lets be clear about this, you are only hiding this trait/habit/pattern from yourself, it’s in plain view to the world at large. There is a connection between doing this work and allowing new people into your life. There is an integration that you are seeking now and as you let your monsters out from under the bed and into the light of day a swift and speedy shift will happen in terms of who appears in your life. The new relationships are a reflection of what you love and what inspires you.

Leo and Leo Rising

There is a lot of activity in your public life/career/social life lately. The full moon will bring an issue at home to light, possibly with a parent, family member or in your actual physical space. There is a review happening for you in terms of what groups you identify yourself as being part of, especially in terms of female friends. The new moon/solar eclipse on the 20th brings this issue to light, eclipses have a way of exposing something to us we haven’t had the capacity to see. It is a great time to start new relationships, friendships and memberships. This is aided by Mercury’s transit through your tenth house of career and public life as of the second week of May. Your emphasis should be on developing your business/work life. Have as many conversations about it as you can, talking to the right person may be the one thing that changes our lives the most. This is a fantastic time for you to be noticed and appreciated for your unique style and contribution to the world. Be your fabulous Leo self and shine on, you crazy diamond.

Virgo and Virgo Rising

There is a tremendous amount of study that you have taken on lately, it may have been formal education or something as informal as studying the unfolding of nature, but it has been deep. It’s fitting if you have been traveling abroad, discovering new places or internally venturing into new terrain. It may not be your inherent nature to throw yourself out into the limelight or toot your own horn but later this month the focus will be on you and your contribution to the world. Whatever you have been studying or developing will become very useful in your career life. With an eclipse right at the top of your chart on May 20th something about your relationship to the world at large will be put to the test or you may be thrust into the spotlight at work. Perhaps there is a decision that needs to be made about which road your will trudge, if so this month will push you one way or another. Mars, still in your sign, will be bolstered once more my a trine to Pluto mid month and this should help you find your confidence and direction to continue on your path with more focus and courage. Venus will go retrograde mid May and it is going to affect you either financially, legally or in real estate issues (if you are looking to buy or sell your home I wouldn’t do so until late August). Venus retrograde may even have you reviewing your career relationships and how you show up in that sector of your life but most likely what you will be reviewing is your deepest desires in terms of your work. This season of eclipses will bring you many opportunities to know what exactly it is that you are after.

Libra and Libra Rising

This is a big month for you as your planet, Venus, goes retrograde on May 15th. Venus can be one of the more challenging retrograde cycles because she asks us to review all of our relationships (she symbolizes women specifically) to everyone and everything. She also asks us to review what we value; resources, money and property included. This retrograde cycle starts off with a trine to Saturn who has been in your sign for the last two plus years testing you, challenging you and ultimately strengthening you. Both Saturn and Venus can be stern taskmasters and their combination is symbolic of having the structure needed to contain the abundance desired. Saturn goes direct on June 25th followed Venus on June 27th, which further links these two in your chart. These retrogrades are going to help you finish up whatever deep karmic lessons you have been experiencing and Venus specifically is helping you review your beliefs and philosophies which the eclipse on May 20th will highlight for you as well. This is a big season for all of us but to me it feels like you are entering the last leg of the race. On June 5th Venus will conjunct the sun something that will not occur again in our lifetimes. Imagine the energy of the morning/evening star, the light that all civilizations have watched since the dawn of time moving in front of our main source of light and center of our universe. What could this Goddess have to tell us? Why is she stepping out now? I believe this transit will help many of us harness our creative potential in new and unforeseen ways. Like a magnifying glass Venus will help us direct the rays of the sun, but we have to be considerate of where we direct the energy.

Scorpio and Scorpio Rising

This month starts of with a full moon in your sign on May 5th. Scorpio full moons are the Beltane moon. Beltane is a cross quarter day (a day that falls in between the equinox and solstice) and is a celebration of the fecundity of the earth. The Goddess receives her lover and is impregnated. Celebrating these times remind us of our inner process as they give us a context within nature and therefore place us inside the great mystery of creation. We can see ourselves inside a larger story when we participate in mythic rituals and that lets us know we are not alone. This is an important connection for you to feel as so much of your chart is still focused on relationships. There is a lot to be learned by hindsight and mid-May will bring a review of the bonds that you have with others. Pay close attention to any shared resources and businesses you have started with others, this month you will be re-evaluating your position. There are clues in your emotional, psychological and financial inheritances as the first eclipse on May 20th is going on in your home territory, the eighth house. Some of you will be experiencing difficulties regarding your taxes and money owing, but what I would suggest is paying attention to who you put your resources into. What relationships drain you and which feed you?

Sagittarius and Sagittarius Rising

We are re-entering eclipse season and the full moon on June 4th will wrap up the last of the eclipses in your sign for the next eight years. What this means is that you are rounding out a time in your life that has been tremendously growth enhancing and important, especially in the areas of self and relationship. How you have faced challenges in that past year has set many patterns and a tone for the coming years of your life. Many of you will have your mind on details at work for the month of May and it’s a great time to get a lot accomplished there. The end of the month will bring a tremendous amount of energy and focus to your intimate relationships and you will get to see through an event with a loved one exactly how it is you are showing up in relationship to others. You have a need for a wide variety of relationships so that you can receive a diverse taste of life through those you love, and you love many. Mid-May when Venus goes retrograde in your 7th house of relationships you will have a chance to review, revise, renew and replenish any part of your intimate affairs that may need it. As well the eclipse on May 20th will be in the same house and bringing up the same material for review. The deeper you look the more rewards you will have in all affairs of the heart.

Capricorn and Capricorn Rising

May’s astrology seems to be conspiring to integrate your recent trips to the healing emporium, you seem to have been shopping in the isle marked “Initiation Into Wholeness”. Keep some of this stock on hand as you will need it to better prepare you for June. Chiron and Pluto have entered a long and much needed affair that spurs you into growth. Both have to do with an impulse toward healing and evolution; Chiron focuses energy on specific issues while Pluto is a slow deep transformation and regeneration. Paying attention to how you are using your mind will be of great benefit to you. What thoughts are on repeat? How is your mind using you? Can you apply your talent for discipline to training your mind to focus on what is, not what could go wrong? The eclipse on May 20th will happen in your sixth house so I would consider preparing for an adjustment of some kind. It may not be that painful but just keep that week open for an “anything is possible” kind of healing opportunity.

Aquarius and Aquarius Rising

Conception, fertilization and creation are my words for you this month. From nothing comes something. You are considering what you are creating and how your values are reflected in what you are bringing forth. Consider your biological/cultural creation myth(s). Many of us come from at least a few different stories, pick one this month and do a little research on it. Dig until you find a piece that resonates with you and see how it’s being reflected in your life and your art. Personal self-expression is an important point of integration for you and you may feel like you are at a cross roads or a crux this month in this area of your life. Valuing our specific ancestry is an important step towards self-alignment, self-respect and self-reliance. Sometimes we must go way, way back tracing our roots like a feline stalking her prey with great focus and intense interest. Search until you find that piece of yourself that will helps you bring forth the next something from nothing. Take what you have learned and use great focus to bring it forth into your life as if it were your own child, because it is.

Pisces and Pisces Rising

This month will bring you important information about your position in your community and how to be an effective agent of change in it. This could be as small as an anonymous act of kindness to deciding to run for office. It doesn’t matter what the act is as long as it’s authentic and from the heart. There is still someone in your midst that is challenging you to move through life in a deeper more authentic way. With this person notice how you are pulled, where you are pulled and how quickly you can come back to yourself. There may even be someone that you consider powerful in your midst, someone who could open up new worlds socially, be careful not to put them on a pedestal. Keep the focus on what is meaningful to you and keep your awareness on yourself. You have a lot brewing in your interior around the time of the new moon on May 20th and I think it’s a good idea to keep it on the inside for the moment. It’s never good to prematurely expose an idea, emotion, thought or piece of art before it is ready. The most private rooms of your psyche are full of ancestors, guardians, spirits, angels and beings that have come to give you information. Venus will go retrograde May 15th for 6 weeks in an area of your chart that suggest it would be a good time to look at issues around lineage specifically with the women in your life. Listen closely to the ghosts if they arrive, they aren’t here to frighten, but they may need your help to evolve themselves.