The Sun Keeps Shining, With or Without the News


The sun keeps shining, with or without the news.

I remember that as I sit to write another weekly astrological rumination and resist the allure of composing another weekly news wrap-up. News can be as titillating entertainment as that thousandth reshowing of Showgirls, and often as meaningless, I'm reminded, when former president George Bush parachuting to the ground on his 80th birthday qualifies as a top national news story of the day. I turn it off to go outside and water my plants.

As an astrological commentator, it's hard to avoid politics. After all, for centuries and centuries, astrologers were intimately involved. They had the privileged ears of royals and dignitaries, advising them on when to marry or wage war or, in the case of one recently deceased president of impeccable popularity, schedule inaugurations and press conferences and treaty signings for maximum popular impact.

Astrologers who write columns such as I do are cultural commentators, and the simplest way for us to take the temperature of our culture is by tuning into the news and seeing which stories have captured the public's imagination. Assisted by the technologies of dissemination—magazine and newspaper publication, TV, the Internet—it's certainly a much easier method than meditating one's way into an ego-free vacuum, where some purer current of collective mood can be tapped and astrologically decoded. News stories are shorthand shared experiences, which is why so many astrological writers (myself included) use them to ground their observations in common terms.

But obviously we can't count on the media to feed us an unfailing account of the important attitudes and debates of the times. Wielders of media power have their own political and economic motivations. With ever more 'information' to choose from at a given moment, there is little guarantee that whatever shows up in the news is what actually matters to me, you or any particular individual.

The choice what to report ('Jennifer Lopez celebrated for indulging marital pathology') is also always a choice what not to report ('Why J. Lo can legally marry whoever she wants and my gay brother can't'). Indeed, more than once recently, I spotted the host personalities of TV news programs caught in a pickle because there was too much scheduled stuff to report and not enough time in the broadcast.

At some point in constant exposure to this game, our immersion in informational profusion inevitably flips into a preference for silence, or at least for communication based in primary bodily experience rather than cerebral dominance.

Astrologically speaking, this point is here, now that the Sun, along with Mercury, has moved from gabby Gemini into quieter Cancer, ushering in a new season and a mood to match. As I mentioned last week, these sign shifts mark a changing of the guard, a move away from so much proliferant detail of semi-significance toward emotional investment in what we actually care about. Summer, ushered in by the Sun's annual transit into Cancer, is beautiful. It's time to stop thinking and talking so much, and to start participating and enjoying and feeling. Cancer doesn't need a diatribe or a diagrammatic explanation to be convinced, just a truly heartfelt glance or a tender nurturing touch.

Saturn is also in Cancer, where he's been since last June and will stay until July 2005. Saturn is usually seen as rather uncomfortable when in Cancer—Saturn likes to construct boundaries and enforce authority, while Cancer is an ever-changing waterworld where a moment's gut feeling reigns supreme. For now, though, as Mercury moves into conjunction with Saturn in Cancer late this week, these emotion-related boundaries are welcome. The easiest way to halt the overwhelming stream of thoughts (yours or other people's being thrust at you) is to trust your own emotional intuition as a filter. If it makes no visceral impression on you, it probably isn't important.

Staying close to our feelings, as opposed to following practical or intellectually abstract concerns or a need to act in willfulness, offers us the best opportunity for breaking free from recent or entrenched patterns. The influence of Uranus in Pisces auspiciously trines both the Sun and Mercury in Cancer this week, delivering promise through unorthodox methods and approaches that might not make logical sense but are right because they feel right.

The movement of Mars into Leo, another planetary sign shift, completes this changing picture. Mars in Leo is a placement of fun, creativity, drama and exaggeration, but above all else, action involved with expressing the self. We might instinctively disparage self-involvement as a trait too, um, self-centered for our comfort, even as all achievements of which we are proud inevitably rest on being so involved. Sometimes, a little bit of self-centeredness can be a damn good thing, particularly lately, when it's been so easy to get distracted according to others' whims.

It's so easy to get sidetracked by the details of the latest news story, especially one with as sensationalist a bent as the beheading of an American military contractor by terrorists in Saudi Arabia. Who could help but notice? But (sorry for the painful pun ahead) we also mustn't lose our heads over it. The terrorists responsible designed their act for maximum media play, and media outlets chomped at the bait for maximum viewer (dare I use the word?) entertainment and the resultant ratings bonanza. What happened to Paul Johnson is undeniably horrible, yet he is one man and this is one abuse among many carried out everyday by all 'sides'.

Rather than focusing on the horrific details, perhaps understanding is more likely found by consid