Tomorrow night is the New Moon in Taurus: the Sun and Moon meeting up in the sign of the bull, the middle sign of the season when Northern Hemisphere spring really takes hold. This Full Moon is exact at 11:22 pm EDT on May 7.

I’ve always associated Taurus with green things growing, and have long associated those green things with myself (my birthday is this week). I have a vivid memory of riding in the car with my mother when I was quite young, sometime during autumn, as she excitedly remarked, “Ohhh, look at all the pretty colors of the leaves!”

Birch leaves spreading themselves out into the world today; photo by Amanda Painter.

“I like GREEN,” I emphatically, stubbornly declared, in no mood to be coerced by my mother’s preferences or the cycles of nature.

(In case you don’t know, Taurus folks are famous for their stubborn resistance to change. I am pleased to report that I have since developed an appreciation of each season’s beauty — though the greens of early spring and full-leaf summer are still my favorites. I’ve also done a lot of healing work around my relationship with my mother and her preferences — another story for perhaps another time.)

In any case, where I live, trees are just beginning to put out their nascent leaves. In the context of tomorrow’s New Moon chart, it offers an apt entry point: When a tree pushes out its new leaves each spring, it’s not actually starting from square one; it’s not pushing the same boulder from the very bottom of the hill, like the mythological Sisyphus, because it has another layer of growth to it.

The trunk is a teeny bit wider, the branch tips are a little bit longer…it may even have some new, baby branches just beginning to extend themselves out into the world.

Each spring, from our perspective, it looks like it’s going through the exact same motions. But it’s not. So why do we get so frustrated and down on ourselves when we seem to keep getting the “same” lessons from the universe handed to us?

To be sure, as one wise friend of mine explained (years ago when I complained that I kept having to learn the same lesson over and over again with an ex): “If the lesson keeps showing up, then you haven’t actually learned it. You understand the lesson, but understanding it the easy part. If you have truly learned it, the lesson would no longer show up.”

Okay, so there is a difference between “understanding” and “learning” our life’s core lessons. Yet even from that perspective, you are not literally starting from the same place each time it shows up. Because each time you face it, you have another layer of lived experience under your belt (a new tree ring of growth). This has the potential to help you access new resources (emotional, material, social, spiritual, etc.).

Each layer of experience has the potential to shift your perspective on what you’re learning and who (and how) you’re becoming — just as those ever-lengthening branches on a tree make it taller and broader, subtly shifting the space it takes up from year to year.

A tree is never just repeating the exact same growth. Neither are you, especially once you start becoming more conscious of the process.

Along the way, values (another Taurus theme) begin to shift. Failures, disappointments, and also our wins become the seeds we can plant into the rich humus of our self-understanding to produce genuinely new growth.

Or, to shift metaphors: it all becomes material for the forge’s flames to shape anew. Sometimes that takes more hammering than we would like — more than we think we can take. Sometimes it feels like the heat required could incinerate us, rather than simply offer the conditions necessary to bend rather than break.

Rarely do we know what’s going on underneath another person’s surface — whether they feel more like a tree steadily adding rings each year or like a blast furnace is burning and melting them from the inside out.

I don’t want to downplay how often people lose their struggle when the inner blacksmith’s forge becomes more like a blast furnace, because it happens all too often — and culturally some important things need to change dramatically to address it. But I do want to shift gears a bit to connect these metaphors to what I’m seeing in the chart for this Taurus New Moon.

My former astrology mentor, Eric, always referred to the sign Taurus as “the blacksmith shop of the soul.” Though we bulls appear unflappable and steady, we are burning and churning inside, sorting ourselves out in response to life’s tempering forces.

As synchronicity would have it, about a degree from the Taurus Sun and Moon is the asteroid Hephaistos: named for the mythical Olympian god of blacksmithing. About a degree and a half from that, midway between the New Moon and Uranus, is the asteroid Karma.

Photo by Amanda Painter.

Rather than strictly being about past lives, asteroid Karma generally describes “the balance of what we put out and receive” and “the results of our actions,” according to astrologer Alex Miller. And although my preferred asteroid experts delineate some challenging themes with Hephaistos, my intuitive sense is that its presence here relates more to the image of the blacksmith’s shop.

We’re only four weeks out from the last eclipse. The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction in Taurus was only about two-and-a-half weeks ago. Mercury stationed direct only about a week-and-a-half ago in the sign of self (Aries). If all of that does not describe some inner “forging” going on, I don’t know what does. And of course, the material we are heating up and shaping into our future happens to be the results of our past actions — a.k.a., the present moment.

Yet what is that object across the way in the deep, transformative waters of Scorpio? Gee, it’s the asteroid Sisyphus!

If you feel like what’s being mirrored to you is that you’re having to restart completely from scratch again, don’t you believe it. The path is actually a spiral: you are not at the exact same starting place, no matter how similar it looks. You honestly do have more experience, knowledge, and perspective than you did the last time. Plus, each journey up the hill wears it down a little.

Square the Taurus and Scorpio planets (making 90 degree angles) are the asteroid Toro in Leo and the centaur planet Chariklo in Aquarius.

Toro, though it was named for a U.S. senator’s wife, resonates with the Spanish word for “bull.” Its astrological meanings include muscular strength, endurance, and hard physical work.

Chariklo belongs to a class of objects that tend to relate to deep, ongoing soul processes. I’ve seen it delineated by Eric Francis as signifying holding space for another’s process; Zane Stein cites the harmonious perception of oneself, seeing the potential beauty in others that is their true nature, and getting past blocks to loving ourselves.

With Leo relating to the heart and Aquarius relating to groups, there is something here that speaks to me about how all of our very personal, inner forging and seeding and renewed growth matters most in how we take external, tangible action with it. What if Toro’s message of endurance relates not only to enduring our own trials and tribulations, but also to enduring the awful contrast between the joyful beauty of new growth and the simultaneous “us versus them” destruction all around us?

The “hard work” of the heart is compassion, warmth, affection, and courage — for ourselves and for others — as we sort through this process of becoming, healing, growing, and learning. It is hard work to keep your heart open in Hell, whether you define that Hell as your personal circumstances or the social/global violence that surrounds and impacts you.

Morning sunlight filtering through cherry blossoms in early May 2018. Photo by Amanda Painter

Yet imagine the power of a whole group of people committed to seeing the beauty — the humanity — in each other?

Finally, I want to note that in the Taurus New Moon chart, Mercury is exactly conjunct centaur planet Chiron in Aries. Chiron relates to healing deep, soul-level wounds.

It was precisely conjunct the April 8 Aries New Moon and total solar eclipse. We’ve come one full lunar cycle since that event and its high-intensity focus (which was evident as a social event whether you’re into astrology or not).

What new self-understanding are you bringing forward with you from the last four to six weeks? How are you reshaping it in your soul’s inner forge or planting it deep in the rich soil of your experience? Or is it already beginning to sprout leaves?

Have you been reminded of some piece of yourself that you thought was gone, reclaimed it, and allowed it to take up its proper place within you again? If that process has been painful, are you able to see how much further along the healing path you are than what you might have realized?

Whatever you have learned about yourself these last six or so weeks, it is a valuable resource for meeting any new surprises — and for forging your “big, bold vision for your life.” (Again, thanks to Stephen Forrest for that phrasing.)

Use it to till the metaphorical ground for the seeds you are planting. Call on this resource of greater awareness to meet the results of your past actions, and to support you in putting out into the world what you’d like to receive.

Be persistent in your compassion, and it will strengthen. Though even that process is likely not a straight line; it may feel like you must re-create your compassion for yourself, for another, or for this difficult, beautiful world from the ground up more times than should be possible.

Judging from the trees, I think it is possible.

With love,


P.S. This weekend my partner and I watched Marcel the Shell with Shoes On for the first time (not sure how I missed it when it came out). This familiar Philip Larkin poem is featured in it, and it struck me this morning as an apt coda for some of these Taurus New Moon musings (also, it was published the year I was born):

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

(Philip Larkin, 1974)

Photo of a printed chart for the Taurus New Moon, with my handwritten notes on it so you can get a better sense of where Hephaistos, Karma, Toro, Sisyphus, and Chariklo are hanging out. Note that the Mercury-Chiron conjunction in Aries is making supportive aspects to Toro (a trine) and Chariklo (a sextile).

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