House of the Belted Kingfisher

October 23, 2020
Photo: Kevin Cole

The Belted Kingfisher appeared in a recent journey-meditation to tell me…what exactly?

This colorful bird will be leaving my locale soon as ponds and lakes freeze over, though in much of the United States the Kingfisher overwinters. Various types of kingfishers live around the world, wherever there is open water, with the most colorful species in the tropics (of course).

Even in northern latitudes, kingfishers are relatively bright. The Belted Kingfisher is a lovely rich blue. This is a high profile bird, soring over ponds and divebombing for small fish. Sometimes she skims the water, her blue coloring blending in. The female in my area is blue to blue-gray, like the male, but with a rusty “belt” on her breast.

Kingfishers nest in mud burrows along the banks of rivers and ponds, tunneling on an upward slope three to six feet to lay their eggs. They form new nesting pairs every year. Males court females by bringing them fish.

The sound of a Belted Kingfisher is an unmistakable series of rattles that each last a full second or more. She makes this noise flying or when perched looking for prey. She is quite territorial and aggressive toward intruders.

I associate the Belted Kingfisher with the astrological Eighth House, that time of day when the afternoon sun has commenced a noticeable decline in the west. The Eighth House rules death, psychic activity, the occult, and other things that are hidden. Think of the Kingfisher diving into the still water for her meal. Think of the Kingfisher laying her eggs not in the trees or on the ground but in a cavity beneath the soft earth.

Photo: Teddy Llovet

Brilliant Mars

October 16, 2020

Mars is unusually close to the Earth right now. Look for it overhead around midnight (it’s in opposition to the sun now). It will appear a bit more to the west every night (it’s retrograde until November 13th). Mars is so bright at the moment that you might mistake it for Venus: the “red planet” now has a blue or greenish cast.

Mars was technically closer to Earth last year, but dust storms on the planet hid its shine. You won’t be able to view Mars this close for another fifteen years.

Photo: David Craig

Proud Emblem of the City

October 9, 2020
Photo: Dick Daniels

An encounter with a pigeon could have great import, because pigeons are guardians of civilization.

Pigeons are intellectual birds, associated with education, government, and religious institutions. They roost in libraries, government buildings, university buildings, and large places of worship. Wherever there are cities, there are pigeons.

Because pigeons and other doves roosted in the first temples, pigeons became associated with the goddess. Mesopotamians believed these birds came to the temples to carry prayers to the sky deities.

The white pigeon, especially, is a messenger of the goddess. Aphrodite, Ishtar, and Astarte are sometimes pictured with the white dove, which is a pigeon.

The pigeon is the ultimate pro-social bird of complex society. Interestingly enough, while the Mourning Dove and White-winged Dove thrive in open spaces throughout North America, the Rock Pigeon (that introduced species most people are referring to as the “pigeon”) doesn’t survive outside of cities due to predators. Even in the city, Peregrine Falcons and Red-tail Hawks feed on pigeons.

Pigeon numbers are decreasing, although they are not at all endangered. Is this decline caused by an increase in urban raptors or is it a reflection of the anti-intellectual times we live in? Many people claim to hate pigeons, but pigeons are connoisseurs of human institutions and culture. The urban dweller and the pigeon have much in common.

Aries Rules!

October 1, 2020

Moon is full in Aries through Friday, October 2nd. Aries is the feel good full Moon of the year, also called the Harvest Moon. People are outgoing, energetic, social, spontaneous. Like any other Moon only more so. Aries moon can also be headstrong and combative, but the Sun in Libra balances that somewhat.

Mars, ruler of Aries, is retrograde now in Aries, until mid-November. A retrograde in its own sign is felt more intensely. The inner planets retrograde (Mercury, Venus, Mars) shake things up. Mars represents energy more than anything else, so prudence, reflection, and calculated inaction may be appropriate now. Not the best time for moving forward.

Mars rules dentistry, so I’m wondering what my checkup this month will reveal. I keep putting off diagnostic x-rays, thinking it’s senseless to pay for information about a problem I can’t afford to fix right now. I promised to have them done this time. Should I?

I do think of retrogrades of the inner planets as times when things get fixed. Mercury retrograde, especially, points to areas of life that have been neglected. Mercury, ruler of machines, health, and communication, is also retrograde starting the middle of October.

When both planets are direct again in late November, we can check back in and see if we’ve had twice the fun.