Astrology- The Planets

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay
Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

I frequently refer to astrology when writing my futuristic novels, which all take place on or slightly above the earth. Because my characters are born on earth, I am able to give them exact birthdays, and I sometimes use their astrological charts in order to more clearly define their personalities and motives. I have been made aware that not all of my readers are familiar with the workings of astrology, however, and I’ve had a few requests to clarify this information. Astrology is a multifaceted discipline, but I will attempt to do my best to clearly explain the basics over a few blogs, starting with an explanation of the ten primary planets and celestial bodies that astrologers consider

Most people relate astrology to their sun sign before anything else, but in many cases, it may not be the strongest influence on a person’s chart. There are a large number of celestial bodies and planets that can affect the way a chart plays out, including planets, stars, constellations, and asteroids. Each of these celestial bodies can be in different signs. Astrologers who have your exact time and place of birth are also able to determine which house each of these signs resides in, which can give us a great deal more information. For many of us who follow astrology, there are ten main celestial bodies that we look to when reading a chart, each which represent a different aspect of our core personalities.


The sun is often the first celestial body that people think of when looking at someone’s chart. Your sun sign represents your ego and your overall consciousness, and in some ways, your leadership style. Where it is located in your chart often shows where your outward personality shines most brightly. The sun sign changes on a monthly basis, usually between the 19th and 21st of the month.


Your natal moon represents your emotional state and your instinctive responses. What sign it is in can give you a clue as to what things are likely to nurture your psyche and its placement in your chart can also be indicative of your relationship with your mother or other females in your family as well as the type of activity that you are likely to experience in your domestic life. The moon sign changes every two to three days.


Mercury represents your intellectual life, how you think and communicate rather than how you feel. It does not indicate whether or not someone is intelligent, but rather it reflects how that individual assimilates information as well as how they communicate that information to others. The house that your Mercury resides in will often give clues as to what type of information is likely to attract your attention and what things you like to talk about with others. The planet of Mercury can stay in a sign anywhere from 15-60 days and is never more than two signs away from the sun sign.


Venus represents how you experience love, affection, and beauty. The sign that your natal Venus resides in may show what types of things bring harmony to your life and is highly indicative of how your creative mind works. Where in your chart your Venus is likely to give you a general idea of where you are likely to find a satisfying outlet for your creative efforts. Venus moves through each sign in approximately 30 days, and like Mercury, is never more than two signs away from the sun sign.


Mars represents how you deal with conflict, aggression, lust, and physical activity. The sign that your Mars is in generally indicates how you demonstrate your vitality and how you respond to challenges and can describe how your sex drive is fueled as well. The house that Mars resides in can indicate what areas of life you are likely to be more driven by. Mars typically changes signs every 60 days or so, but can experience retrograde that hold it in a single sign for up to seven months.


Jupiter is the first of the outer planets. These tend to move more slowly through the signs that the previous celestial bodies, and as they move further out they become more generational in nature. Jupiter represents generosity, expansiveness, and philosophy. The sign that your Jupiter is in tends to indicate how you approach both charity and higher learning. Where your Jupiter is located often shows both where you are able to receive financial and material benefits as well as where you are most likely to show your generous side to others. Jupiter takes approximately a year to move through each sign.


Saturn represents laws, boundaries, and hierarchies. It is a planet of limitations, and the sign that your natal Saturn is located in reveals how you interact with those limits and boundaries, as well as providing a clue about what general type of career you will be most suited for. The house that it is situated in is an area where life lessons may be particularly challenging, but when they are learned can be exceptionally beneficial as well. Saturn stays in a single sign around two and a half years at a time.


Uranus represents flashes of insight, sudden changes, and evolution. It is the planet of revolution and the unexpected, and the sign that it is located in shows how you are likely to respond to these sudden and unexpected changes. The house that the planet inhabits tend to be the area of life in which you are more likely to experience these lightning-like flashes, areas where, not only are you more likely to experience sudden changes, but also sudden and accurate conclusions that may appear to bypass logic. Uranus is the third slowest of the planets and remains in one sign for approximately seven years at a time.


The planet of Neptune is a planet of the deep subconscious, and like the Roman god that it was named after, it is both powerful and inexplicable. The sign that it is in and the aspects that it makes to other celestial bodies in your chart can reveal a great deal about how you find an escape from the harsher realities of life, sometimes even indicating a tendency towards escape using self-destructive methods. The house that Neptune resides in may be an area of your life that is murkier than other areas, an area that is generally wrapped in a layer of fantasy and confusion. The sign that Neptune is in is somewhat generational in nature as it stays in one sign for somewhere around 14 years.


Pluto is the farthest planet from the sun, and the coldest. It represents obsession, unsolved mysteries, complete transformation, and raw power. Pluto is the slowest moving of the planets, taking nearly 250 years to transit the entire zodiac, and the sign it is in often describes where the power and obsessions of an entire generation are most emphasized. The house that Pluto is in tends to be an area where you are most likely to experience drastic and permanent change. These changes sometimes are sometimes seen as particularly painful, but they can be radically healing as well. Due to the orbit of Pluto, it becomes retrograde on a frequent basis, and it takes between 10-20 years to go through one sign, often dipping back into the sign before it.

Keep in mind that while astrology may help you to understand yourself or another person, it does not control us. People who are naturally introverted can become excellent public speakers and those who are naturally extroverted can learn to love solitude. What it can do is give you clues about where your natural strengths and weaknesses and those of others as well as how those strengths and weaknesses can be influenced and shaped. Human beings are far too complex to be fully defined by enneagrams, Myers-Briggs profiles, birth order, psychological diagnoses, or even the stars, and while each of these may help to categorize and understand people in a different way, none of them have dominion over us as individuals or over our futures.

There Otter be a Post!

The novel that I am currently developing is set in a future where changes to the environment have caused the extinction of several crustacean and fish species in the ocean, which led in turn to the extinction of many of the marine birds and mammals that we know today. Fortunately, not all marine mammals were driven to extinction. Enhydra lutris, better known as the sea otter, managed to survive the mass extinctions as their primary diet included sea urchins and shelled mollusks.


The fuzzy face and playful attitude make otters a popular animal to photograph, and in recent years some breeds, such as the Asian Small-Clawed Otter, have become more popular as exotic pets in parts of Southwest Asia. All otters belong to the scientific family Lutrinae, a branch of the Mustelidae family, which also includes badgers, weasels, and wolverines. As a group, they are versatile carnivores, dining on anything from shellfish to small birds and mammals. While all thirteen species of otter are adorable, intelligent, and playful, only one species is capable of living its entire life afloat.

An ancestor of the modern Sea Otter is believed to have diverged from the other species of otter somewhere around five million years ago and is different enough from the other species that many scientists believed them to be more closely related to seals until genetic analysis was completed in the 1980s. They are the heaviest of all the otters with females weighing between thirty and seventy pounds and males sometimes weighing in at a hundred pounds or more. Unlike other marine mammals, however, they are not endowed with a layer of blubber to keep them warm. Instead, they have a dense coat of fur, the densest fur in all of the animal kingdom with between 100,000 to 400,000 hair follicles per square centimeter of skin. The coat is made up of a short layer of soft, insulating fur, covered by a layer of longer guard hairs, which helps to keep water away from the shorter layer underneath. It requires a great deal of maintenance in order to retain the ability of the guard hairs to repel water and otters that are unable to keep their guard hairs properly groomed run the risk of becoming either chilled or waterlogged, a dangerous prospect for an animal that lives in the ocean. Their incredible fur nearly spelled the extinction of these animals in the late 18th and early 19th century. Populations of Sea Otters were much greater in the 1700s, believed to be around 100,000 to 150,000 members, but were reduced by hunting to around 1,000 to 2,000 specimens by the time that laws were developed to protect them in 1911.

While most otters enter the lakes, rivers, and oceans around their homes mainly to hunt and play, the Sea Otter also sleeps, eats, and gives birth in the water. They spend a great deal of their time floating on their backs, leaving their paws free to hold on to their young or to manipulate their food and eat. The sea otter is more than capable of chasing down fast moving fish for dinner, but they usually prefer to harvest sea urchins, crabs, clams, and abalones from the sea floor. In order to harvest their favorite foods, many Sea Otters have developed the ability to dislodge their prey and crack open hard shells by using a rock, making them one of just a few animals known to regularly use tools. It is not a skill that they are born with, it is one that they typically learn from their mothers, and if they don’t learn the skill by the time they are an adult, they are unlikely to pick it up. While any old rock will do in a pinch, some tool using otters tuck specific rocks in the natural pouches or pockets that they have developed, which are located under each arm. The pouches, unique to the Sea Otter, are also used to store food that they collect along the ocean floor so that they can carry more to the surface.

I’m not sure where or how all of this information will fit into my novel or into the short stories that are based in the same futuristic world, but I’m sure it will. Eventually.

The Sting of the Cnidarian (jellyfish and their relatives)


I do a great deal of research when working on my novels and short stories. The as-of-yet untitled novel that I am currently working on involves some genetic manipulation theories, and I needed to learn a little bit more about the anatomy of jellyfish, specifically a type of cell that they have called a cnidocyte. 

The phylum of animals known as Cnidaria, which contains jellyfish, tube-dwelling anemones, minute polyps, and certain types of coral, have a rather unique adaptation that allows the cnidaria to thrive. All of the creatures in this phylum are characterized by cnidocytes, a type of cell unique to these animals. Cnidoctyes function as projectiles, used to ensnare and immobilize prey as well as to defend the cnidarians against those that see them as prey. 

Each cnidocyte is composed of a tough capsule known as a cnida, which stores high concentrations of calcium ions. The cnida is covered by a lid which scientists refer to as an operculum; either a single hinged flap, or three pie-shaped flaps that cover an opening in the cell. A coiled tubule resides inside the capsule until it is triggered by the cnidocil, a hair-like sensory device that is activated by a combination of physical contact and chemical response. When the cell is activated, calcium ions are released into the fluid in the cell, which forces a rapid influx of water causing the coiled tubule inside to spring out- a process that can take as little as seven hundred nanoseconds to complete. Cnidocytes can only be activated once then it takes approximately two days for the cnidarian to grow new stinging cells.

Cnidocytes come in three different classifications. Ptychocysts are used to build protective tubes rather than to catch prey and are unique to tube anemones. Spirocysts are hollow tubules that adhere to the things they come in contact with, entangling their prey, and nematocysts. Nematocysts are the most prevalent of the three, they contain hollow tubules with spikes on the end that penetrate the skin, in most cases injecting the victim with some form of neurotoxin.

Handling Stings

  • Rinse the area with vinegar or warm water (avoid seawater or cool water)
  • Avoid rubbing the area or scraping the stingers off as this can push additional toxins into the wound
  • Pull off any remaining tentacles with tweezers, do not use your hands

Dangerous Symptoms: Call an Ambulance

  • Stings cover a large part of the body, or are located on sensitive areas such as the eyes or mouth
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swollen lips or tongue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headache
  • Dizziness


The type of neurotoxin and the amount of damage it does can vary greatly between species, as can the overall size of the cnidocyte cell. Sea anemones have cells so small that they don’t penetrate human skin but to certain marine animals such as small fish they are deadly predators. Jellyfish stings are more likely to affect humans, with effects ranging from slight pain accompanied by redness, itching, or numbness at the site to cardiac arrest, depending on the species and amount of toxin injected. 

Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse

blood-mooncreativecommonssmTonight is a conjunction of several lunar events; it is a full moon, a fairly common occurrence, a lunar eclipse, which happens a few times a year, and a super moon, which can also happen a few times a year.

A super moon is when the new or full moon is at or very near the closest point of its orbit to the earth, usually within 90%, causing it to look somewhat larger than average. Astrologically speaking, super moons are somewhat more intense than your average full moon, although how much more intense is hard to quantify, and can depend on how closely the moon aligns to your own chart.

During a total lunar eclipse, the moon gains a coppery or red hue, one that conjures images of blood and battle, giving it the moniker of blood moon. In truth, it is a phenomenon of the light, and while the shorter wavelengths found in blue and purple are scattered more easily, the longer wavelengths of the orange and red hues are still able to reach the surface of the moon and to be reflected.

Lunar eclipses occur a few times a year, in 2019 there are three; a full eclipse and two partial eclipses. The first partial eclipse was January 6th, and the first and only total lunar eclipse for the year occurred around nine pm tonight, just an hour or two before I sat down to write. We can expect the second and final partial eclipse on July 16th. Lunar eclipses tend to intensify the effect of a full moon, although the full effect of those changes may be a bit hazy until the partial eclipse in mid-July.

A full moon in Leo, as it is tonight, tends to be a good time for creative endeavors, especially those that highlight the more incredible things in life. It is often a good time to find balance between recognition of yourself and the notice of others, but can also be a time of overextending oneself, either physically, mentally, or emotionally. While this is generally true for everyone, the intensity of the effect and the direction it takes can differ from person to person, depending on the type connections it makes to your own chart as well as the degree of proximity to the planetary bodies in your chart.