Monthly Archives: September 2015

Current Transits for October 2015

by Barry Kerr

The Sun moved into Libra on September 23

Having spent the first half of the zodiac journey developing the ego “self”, our inner Venus now attracts opportunities to apply our self-knowledge to creating relationship. Come hither, Libra!

It is the Libra in us all that knows that the path to wholeness, in this world, is through relationship with others. The dance between two or more egos invites divine connection. Libra’s spiritual intention is to begin the softening of the boundaries that our ego has formed within the illusion of separateness that this physical world presents as reality. When we are ready for this, relationship and commitment is inviting and exciting. If our ego is holding tight to the illusion, we fear relationship as a threat to self-preservation, though the longing to engage still moves within us.

Through Libra, we are all learning to share, to see things through another’s eyes, to become aware of and support their needs and communicate our own with diplomacy and tact. When doing this well, we remain strongly grounded in our “self”, while also willing to cooperate and create win/win situations. When unconscious, we fear losing our self and become aggressive or defensive, pushing others away, or we fear aloneness and lose touch with our self, over-identify with another, compromise or capitulate altogether. This can lead to a debilitating co-dependence, or trying to always be “nice”, with an obsessive attachment to fairness and justice and a fear of conflict.

What needs healing and growth?

The wounded Libra in each of us feels alone or separate. We long for an “other” to “complete” us and bring balance to our lives. This can be experienced as a fear of being alone, acted out as described above. We may seek harmony around us in any way possible and put on masks of peace and contentment while feeling imbalance and conflict within.  

To heal our Libra selves, we need to embrace that what we seek in others is already in our self. Their beauty is ours. Their lovingness is ours. Their darkness is ours. In this way, we reclaim pieces of our self that need acceptance, appreciation and love, and add to our sense of wholeness, completion and balance. Likewise, as we see ourselves in others, we see through the illusion of separateness. We see their soul reflecting our soul. Each time that happens, we come to know who we really are as spiritual beings, already whole and complete and always connected. In that self-knowing, there is no aloneness to fear.

Additional Support (current planetary transits)

Full Moon Eclipse in Aries on Sept 27.  With the Aries moon opposing the Sun in Libra, this eclipse marks a powerful time to take action or assert yourself regarding a relationship. This has been building for the previous two weeks toward this moment. Eclipses imply a longer lasting impact in our lives, so be aware in this one. If you’ve felt afraid of taking action, perhaps feeling a threat of being left alone personally or socially, this is the time to step through your fear.

Uranus trine Venus. Intuitive Uranus has been building your strong and courageous Aries warrior with inner knowing regarding your relationships and values (Venus). Trust this to help you discern what is allowing you to shine in your relationships and what is keeping you in inauthentic placation. It’s time to celebrate you and let others do the same.

Mercury squares Pluto. As this full moon forms, Mercury is retrograde and squaring Pluto, which just turned direct after retrograding since April. Thus, it is important to integrate whatever introspective understandings you’ve attained about your sense of power and how you use it in communications. Since Venus also recently went direct after a month of retrograde, there are important awarenesses to include about values and relationships. All in all, a powerful time of outward potential shifting due to inward advances in consciousness.  

Mars and Jupiter oppose Neptune.  Active Mars combines in Virgo with expansive Jupiter to bring an abundant amount of energy to you to take practical steps in action. The challenge is to allow Neptune’s spiritual influence to guide your actions from your greater heart. Otherwise, deception or illusion could obscure your intentions.

Barry Kerr, a certified soul-based astrologer, has 35 years of experience with an international clientele, including many medical professionals and alternative healers. He and Kristine Gay, a licensed psychotherapist, are owners/practitioners at Inner Essence Center in Madison. Both have extensive training in soul-guided healing of mind, body, heart and spiritual systems. Barry offers astrology, energy healing and transformational coaching by phone, Skype or in person in Madison, WI. Inquiries are welcome – free 15 minute consultation to explore if this is for you.  Visit for more information.

Smudging Materials: Traditions & Choices

No matter how positive a person’s actions and intentions may be, negativity is a reality in all our lives. In spiritual terms, the positive energy you put out may even act as a magnet for negative forces. Smudging is an easy and effective way to block, clear and even counter those negative forces. We’ve already shared some tips on how to smudge. In this article, we’ll talk about the various materials available. Most of these materials can be purchased in a variety of forms: loose-leaf herb, smudge bundle or stick, incense, essential oil or room spray.

The following plant materials are commonly used in smudging:

White sage (Sacred sage, bee sage), Salvia apiana. This plant is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. The native tribes of those regions have burned this sage in purification rituals for many centuries, and it is from them that others have learned its use. Parts of the same plant have also been used as food and as a healing tea. Modern science has confirmed that the plant has strong antibacterial properties. White sage is our generally our first choice when we recommend materials, because it has been proven effective for many people over a long period of time. Its power is strong, and many people claim it’s the most effective plant for driving out unwanted entities. However, people may have a negative reaction to sage smoke, either because of some negative force has attached itself to them (usually without their conscious knowledge) or because of simple personal preference. The good news is that many other options are available.

Desert Sage may refer to Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii) or Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). Both plants have very narrow leaves, and they burn and smell a little different from white sage. Otherwise, desert sage used for basically the same purpose, but grows in the Mountain and Great Basin states.

Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) & Frankincense (Boswellia sacra): As most of us know from the Christmas pageants of our youth, these substances were used by people in Biblical times for purification. They’re found most often as incense or essential oil.

Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens). The name of this South American relative of the frankincense tree is usually translated as “holy wood,” though “holy stick” would be more accurate. This is said to have been the sacred wood of the Incas, but many people burn it today simply because they love the smell. It can also work for people who are allergic to sage. Otherwise, its uses are essentially the same, although there’s somewhat more of a shamanic connotation to using palo santo. The best way to use it is simply to light a stick of the pure wood, and enjoy its resinous scent as you clear your space.

Juniper (Juniperus spp.) is used for ritual purification, either of a temple space or a person about to partake in some ritual. It’s traditional to carry a few juniper berries in a medicine pouch for protection.

Cedar: Usually either Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) or California incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens). Bundles made from the leaves of these sacred trees are good for forgiveness & emotional balance. The cleansing energy is not quite as strong as that of white sage, but cedar can be great for attracting positive, “bright” energy. It can also create or enhance a positive mood, so this might be an excellent choice for those suffering from depression or other mood disorders. It’s also a good choice for recharging a space that has housed someone who has been ill, or who has died.

Lavender (generally Lavendula augustifolia, though occasionally you’ll find another species of Lavendula)  has a “gentling” effect, opening the heart chakra and creating a relaxing atmosphere. Lavender also promotes healing, and leaves behind an aura of calm protection. Lavender is associated with children, so either pure lavender or a sage/lavender blend could be a good choice for smudging any area associated with children. Take sensible precautions, of course, if you are smudging when infants or young children are actually present; some may be sensitive to any type of smoke. Lavender can also foster good relationships of other kinds, and promote peace.

Sweetgrass, or Holy Grass (Hierochloe odorata), like sage, has a long tradition of use among Native peoples. It is more commonly used for blessing than for protection. One great way to use sweetgrass is as a follow-up to a sage smudging: The sage (of whichever variety) kicks out the negative energy, while the sweetgrass welcomes in positive vibes. Sweetgrass usually comes in a long braid, but you may also find it in mixed smudge sticks, along with other materials. Native tribes regarded this grass is the living hair of Mother Earth; burning it invokes Her goodwill and protection. They also cleansed their bodies and hair with sweetgrass-infused water, and chewed on sweetgrass when fasting for ritual purposes.

Copal, which is actually tree sap in the process of becoming amber, is often used in Central and South American cultures as a smudging material. They identified it as a food for the gods, and so used it as a means of communication and prayer with their deities. Its most appropriate use is for cleansing and blessing sacred areas, such as churches or altars. It can also protect someone engaging in sacred or mystical activities, such as praying or divination. Its golden color is associated with a pure golden light, such as the light which imbues the auras of people who are holy or inspired.

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Tibetan Buddhist Symbols


The eight Auspicious Symbols of Mahayana Buddhism are often pictured together. Their harmony illustrates how the many aspects of life come together on the Buddhist path.

 lotus line drawing Lotus represents purity of body, speech and mind. The opening of the flower signifies the “blossoming” of enlightenment.
knot Endless Knot (mandala) represents eternity and unity. Different aspects of wisdom depend upon and lead to each other: fulfillment and emptiness, straight lines and turnings, wisdom and compassion.
fish Pair of Golden Fish represents moving through life without fear. As a fish swimming through water has no thought of drowning, so we may swim through life, allowing the waters of the Ocean of Suffering to roll off our backs.
banner Victory Banner represents spiritual victory — both one’s personal victory over obstacles, and also the victory of Buddhist doctrine.
wheel Wheel of Dharma has eight spokes, corresponding to the Noble Eightfold Path, also called the Middle Path: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. Working toward these things promotes wisdom, ethical conduct, and spiritual development.
 treasure Treasure Vase represents abundance. This symbol is somewhat puzzling, since represents the attainment of material wealth, while at the same time promising liberation from the world.
 umbrella Parasol represents protection from temporary suffering; though all beings suffer, the person approaching enlightenment ceases to be bothered by temporary setbacks.
 conch Conch Shell represents the voice of the Buddha, which we may hear within our own minds. The conch signals teachings that wake us from the figurative “slumber” of deception.


Many other symbols are part of the Buddhist tradition as well:


Chorten (or stupa in Hindi): Like a Tibetan version of the Stations of the Cross, each of the eight types of chorten stands for one of the stages in the Buddha’s life: birth, enlightenment, many doors, descent from the god realm, great miracles, reconciliation, complete victory, and nirvana. stupa
Dorje (or Vajra in Hindi): This may be variously described as a lightening bolt, a scepter, or a diamond rod. Whichever interpretation is followed, the dorje represents the invincible truth of Buddhist teachings. The diamond is is the hardest of natural materials, able to cut through anything else. In the same way, the wisdom of the Buddha is pure and strong enough to cut through every deception. The dorje embodies the male, or skill, aspect of wisdom. dorje hand
Double Dorje: Two crossed dorjes represent the foundation of the world, signifying physical reality as we experience it in day-to-day life. This may be used as an emblem of protection.  double dorje
Tibetan Bell: The feminine aspect of enlightenment, encompassing wisdom and emptiness. The sound of the bell drives away demons, including spiritual demons such as fear and illusion.  bell
Kartika: This curved knife cuts the ties that bind us to conventional beliefs, leaving us free to pursue truth and attain true wisdom.  kartika
Phurpa: A ritual dagger that fights back against negativity and harmful forces that would hold us back. These harmful forces may be parts of ourselves; the phurpa, therefore, also signifies self control. phurpa
Flame Sword: Transcendent wisdom, which cuts through illusion, duality and attachment. This sword is the weapon of Manjusri, one of the most ancient Bodhisattvas, who embodies wisdom achieving victory over ignorance. sword
Tingsha: These cymbals are small but thick, producing a clear, piercing tone, which clears the mind for meditation. They can also clear the atmosphere of a place, removing negative energy. Tingshas are used in prayer, meditation and ritual, particularly the ritual of appeasing the “hungry ghosts.” tingsha
Buddha Eyes: The all-seeing eyes of the Buddha observe everything, but never speak.  buddha eyes


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