Mars Volta

With the arrival of June we’re inching incrementally closer to the edge of a major astrological event horizon – Mars is in the process of downshifting as we speak; losing speed but building in power as it prepares for its Retrograde station on June 26th. This was the topic of my recently published June newsletter so I shan’t bore you all by repeating myself here, but one thing I would like us all to keep in mind going forward from this point regards how there’s apt to be a long slow burn perhaps punctuated by intermittent outburst in some area of our life over the next few months as Mars does this prolonged bump-n-grind motion between the area of 09 degrees Aquarius and 28 degrees Capricorn.

Even if you don’t have planets or points located in this particular vicinity of the zodiac, look to see what astrological House(s) in your chart will be affected by this passage. This energy is both frictional and invigorating, though it may not feel like it at first – Mars is the desire planet and when it retrogrades we’re challenged to get in touch on a deep visceral level with what we want out of life or our raison d’être. This can then lead us to take inspired action, but note the entire retrograde period as a whole (late June – late August) is best used as an incubation period. Stoke the internal fires and tend them consciously and carefully, but do not rush into action just yet; our desires are still in the process of more fully unfolding during this time so may wind up altering significantly. It is a waste of energy to change tack two or three times and there is an economy of movement being conveyed by this energy, so definitely take your time before pulling the trigger on something.


Lo-Fi Mars In Leo In Its Own Words

“And when you’re a star, they’ll let you do it. You can do anything.” 

– Mars in Leo Rising Donald Trump, on how his celebrity status emboldened him to be physically aggressive with women.

The now-infamous quote above was uttered straight from the lips of a would-be president, if you can believe that – this doesn’t even take into account the *really* objectionable part (look it up for yourself – it’s been all over the news lately) that immediately followed.  I think the statement so perfectly encapsulates the essence of Lo-Fi Mars in Leo, though – the bratty sense of entitlement to do whatever the hell you want since you’re a special little snowflake who doesn’t have to behave like the rest of the world because, well, you’re NOT the rest of the world, now are you?  No, no, no – you’re far too extraordinary *coughNarcissisticcough* to act like everybody else does – that’s for the little people.


I remember looking at Mr. Trump’s chart during the summer of 2015 and noting he was about to have a Mars Return that was marked by a prominent square to Saturn in Sagittarius, which did not seem like a particularly favorable energetic influence for his White House bid to my mind.  Mars is desire – in Leo, it always wants to be the star of the show. And what could possibly be a bigger stage than being the leader of the United States of America, I ask?

The Mars Return itself shows our drive and where we put our energies for the next two years. It is a cyclical event we all experience (albeit at different times) about every 22 months and looking at this chart can prove very useful for understanding what we want, what it is that’s motivating us, and how we go about about getting it, as well as whether or not we’re likely to emerge victorious in the pursuit of our conquest.  You can therefore see why I would think this an important thing to be looking at when this planet already features so prominently in this man’s chart to begin with; let alone the fact that it takes an enormous amount of energy and drive (Mars) to run for office.

As to where Saturn in Sagittarius comes in, it represents both his political ambitions as well as a large obstacle in the way of achieving that goal when it is found squaring his Mars. His testosterone (also Mars’ domain) is what’s getting in the way here – note that in his natal chart Donald has Mars located in his astrological 12th house; the part of the chart astrologers have long referred to as “the place of self-undoing”.  The 12th house and any planetary energies contained within it shows how we are apt to be the source of our own suffering and denotes where we are inclined to metaphorically shoot ourselves in the foot.  Trump’s desire to wear the crown of political achievement is being cock-blocked (and yes, the phallic pun is wholly warranted since we are talking about Mars and Saturn here) by his churlish machismo – it’s like tripping over your own dick; seriously.  Your fly’s down, Donald – put it back in your pants.


Mars Stationary Direct In Scorpio

I still think Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate has this vibe down perfectly – this line is quintessential Mars stationary direct in Scorpio:

“You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire..”

But what if what you’ve got is an Appetite for (self?)Destruction?

With Mars stationing direct in Scorpio, desire is at its most potent.  All sorts of primal impulses may surface that can run the gamut from murderous, to carnal, to a strong urge for personal transformation where all the dross associated with our Lowest Self is burned off so we can be reborn.

When Mars turns direct in Scorpio, we find out just how much control (or lack thereof) we have over The Beast within. Our “demons” are apt to rear up on us. Vices can lead us down a proverbial trail to Sodom and Gomorrah.  Anger may boil over into a rage and explode disastrously.  We may become extremely impatient and libel to make premature moves that prove devastating – especially if we’re not clear about our possible subconscious motives.

Or, we conquer those demons and show ‘em who’s boss.  We wrestle with our vices and win.  We emerge victorious over destructive anger.  We become the master of our psyches, confronting and illuminating even our most hidden or dysfunctional motivations so we act from a place of integrity that is in alignment with our Highest Good.

If you’re wondering where the middle ground is in all these possible expressions, there really isn’t any – Scorpio is first and foremost a sign of extremes.  Remember this for the next several days as the Mars Mojo really rouses, and know that from today we have exactly 34 days to redirect this energy toward its most constructive potential as Mars will leave Scorpio on August 2nd.  So are you going to wield this power, or let it enslave you?  The choice is yours.


Mars Rx, Literally

MarsRxWith Mars turning retrograde (Rx) in comparatively short order, I thought now would be an ideal time to talk about some of the potential effects this phenomenon may have upon health. Why?  Do you know the astrological shorthand for a planet retrograding is the same as the medical symbol for “prescription”?   This has always gotten my gears turning!

Let me begin by saying that Aries and Scorpio should take note of this event in particular – as this is YOUR ruling planet that is backtracking, it’s likely to have especially physical manifestations you may need to be aware of.  Mars is our metaphorical “get up and go” – it represents drive, desire, motivation, physical energy, our muscles, blood, testosterone, and libido just for starters. Being that Mars is also the symbol for masculinity, it’s worth noting that men in general tend to be more affected by Mars retro from a health standpoint – sorry guys, this is just how the cookie crumbles! We ladies have our own challenges during Venus retrogrades, which happens about every 18 months vs. the 22 month reprieve you fellas get until the next Mars retro swings around again!

We do need to be aware that Mars retrogrades may tend to bring out more “men’s health”–related issues on the whole….or perhaps more accurately, things that we tend to *think* of as being more related to men’s health. Along this vein, the first thing that comes to mind – especially with a big chunk of this retro phase taking place in sex-sign Scorpio from late May until early August – are sexual or libidinal issues. We may have difficulty from a sexual standpoint getting in touch with what truly “turns us on” during the Rx, or experience some kind of quote-unquote sexual dysfunction which can mean anything from arousal issues, to blood flow problems, to testosterone deficiency…if we are attempting to procreate (which, by the way, can be made more challenging during Mars Rx) it’s extra important that we also take a look at things like sperm count and/or motility now.

Now none of this is cause to freak out, nor is it a guarantee that you will personally experience any of these sorts of challenges. But for those that happen to, it may be helpful to have some astrological insight into what might be going on, because when Mars backtracks we do have to be wary of taking things purely at face value. Therefore, in this kind of scenario it’s important to look for any potential underlying root cause(s) rather than just look purely at the physical symptom(s). For example, instead of writing something off as “just a blood flow problem” and treating with little blue pills, maybe it’s worth pursuing this in true Scorpion fashion via getting a few needle sticks for the sake of *really* getting to the bottom of things. The blood may indeed prove an invaluable investigational resource in more ways than one during this period, and this doesn’t have to be limited to the confines of of a purely sexual or reproductive context, either.

When I see Mars retrograding in Scorpio, something else this cues to mind for me is there may possibly be some kind of toxicity going on within the bloodstream below the surface – for instance, perhaps something like heavy metal poisoning could be underpinning a physical issue. I’m neither a doctor nor a medical professional, so none of written here is meant to be construed as medical advice, but if you’re looking for places to start an investigation, absolutely do your own research and consider talking to your doctor or other healthcare practitioner.

In other areas, I also tend to associate Mars with iron and ferritin levels, and this planet backtracking does to me trigger a potential “anemic” feeling. If your physical energy levels are low and you have other possible markers of anemia, this may be another area worth investigating; especially for women experiencing heavy menses. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the regular and frequent consumption of high-quality bone broth is thought of as a mainstay in addressing such issues, so definitely don’t be afraid to also attack physical ailments from the kinds of philosophical and energetic points of view provided by things such as TCM or Ayurveda, for example, as this aligns rather nicely with Mars retrograding in cultural Sagittarius and energetically-oriented Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio especially has a very “what’s old is new again” feel to me, so there may be a resurgent interest in looking at physical ailments from the energetic or symbolic perspectives of more ancient “primitive” healing methods.

Speaking of energy levels, Mars holds an association with the adrenal glands as well, so perhaps if anemia isn’t part of the picture it may be worth investigating the possibility of adrenal dysfunction.   With the outset of the retro happening in Sagittarius, my feeling is there is a possibility of initial OVERactivity that can subsequently crash and lead to UNDERactivity, so uncovering what our cortisol levels may have to say could prove revealing.

Mars also holds an association with the surgeon’s knife, and because of this Mars Retrograde is not generally considered a favorable time for scheduling ELECTIVE surgeries.  Note that I stress the word “elective” there – common sense dictates that if it’s an emergency situation and we don’t have any kind of say in the matter, this becomes a moot point so please don’t worry about it!  But if it isn’t critical that one be operated upon immediately and there is the ability to plan a procedure, generally avoiding the period from circa April 17th – June 29th may be a good idea.

Lastly, I will point out that Mars is indeed Ye Olde (lesser) Malefic from an astrological point of view – what this means in a nutshell is this planet’s penchant for rash, impulsive action tends to get us into trouble. When I think of this planet’s lustful nature in particular, this quite simply says to me “wrap it up” – especially when it spends months amped by a stay in sexy Scorpio! This is a general “no”, then, to any hot-but-risky liaisons and definitely a cue to slow it down if we should find ourselves in a rush to initiate a new level of intimacy…physical OR otherwise. Slow it down, because particularly once Mars re-enters Scorpio in late May there can be a certain compulsiveness underpinning things where we act without necessarily knowing why. In such cases, it’s critical to look at subconscious psychological motivations…especially if they incline toward self-destructive at all.


Quantifying An “Omen”

Omen (n) : a prophetic sign; something that happens that is regarded as a sign of how somebody or something will fare in the future. See also “portent”.

As fairly Plutonic person, I find that am perpetually seeing “signs” everywhere – it is somewhat of an occupational hazard, you might say, when this planet is active in your nativity. Things that might otherwise remain invisible to others tend to stand out to me as if they’ve been bathed in Luminol, LOL.

However, I realize that it can be challenging for many to work out exactly how to know if something is indeed an omen. That’s a tad hard for me to put into words, actually – when you’re naturally inclined to latch onto even the smallest of details and follow them like a proverbial breadcrumb trail and don’t believe that anything in life is a mere coincidence, synchronicity is found EVERYWHERE. Yet for the sake of this post, I will try anyway so that readers may understand – beyond a shadow of a doubt – exactly how to identify an omen.

So here is a related anecdote for you: Tonight on my way home from the gym, I saw one of these:

© 2015. All rights reserved.
© 2015. All rights reserved.

Cool, right?

But just two weeks (to the day) earlier, I had seen another:

© 2015.  All rights reserved.
© 2015. All rights reserved.

Ok, a little weird, but still pretty cool.

What if I told you, though, that exactly three weeks before this instance – after emerging from a very profound healing session on the Gemini New Moon (that was conjunct Mars, BTW) – ANOTHER had appeared before me?

© 2015
© 2015. All rights reserved.

Yeah, that’s just SPOOKY! “Can you hear me NOW? Good!”

Always on a Tuesday, the day of the week ruled by Mars. And always lingering just long enough for me to get the shot before it literally vanished into thin air right in front of my eyes. Is it coincidence also that magical Neptune is currently affecting my (Plutonic-flavored) 8th House Mars, LOL? I don’t think you get much more magical than a rainbow, do you? Those are certainly neat correlations, but the primary takeaway for me lies in contemplating the symbolism of rainbows, which I always take as a harbinger of happiness after a difficult period (i.e. the preceding storm). Here is a quote from famed astrologer Isabel Hickey (rest her soul) regarding 8th house energies, taken directly from her fabulous book Astrology: A Cosmic Science – “Every 8th House operation is a celestial messenger in disguise and a challenge to penetrate this disguise and become the recipient of the blessing he bears. In the wake of an 8th House storm there is always a rainbow if we but lift our eyes to perceive it.

So what’s the moral of this story? You cannot go wrong if you abide by the old Rule Of Three regarding omens! There is no way – in this writer’s humble opinion – if you encounter something via three separate instances, that it’s NOT a sign! This is roughly the equivalent of being hit in the head with a Cosmic 2 x 4, in my estimation. So if all else fails and you’re not sure if something is a sign or not? Watch how many more times it manifests – you’ll have yourself a definitive answer!

Trips, bay-bee - read 'em and weep!
Trips, bay-bee – read ’em and weep!


Path Of Least Resistance Mars

Hi-Fi Mars is awesome – it’s heroic energy and bravery incarnate among many other things! But with Mars passing over the Moon’s South Node in Aries tonight, let’s talk about the more unsavory side of this energy for a moment; the “path of least resistance” that can get us into trouble.

Lo-Fi Mars in Aries is a bully and on the South Node this indicates an excess of self-assertion. Its whole paradigm is built on conflict as well as its ability to flex its muscles in response to this; so with Mars on the Aries South Node we have to be careful how we use our strength so that we don’t push others around – especially when it comes to getting what we want. Standing up for ourselves is one thing; dominating others is another. Because Mars in Aries relishes a competition and is invigorated by the thought of winning, we should also watch for a tendency to engage in “pissing contests”, or to take anything/everything as an affront/challenge. Lo-Fi Mars loves an opportunity to trounce someone or something, so this is a situation where operating from that baseline paradigm of life = conflict CREATES conflict. As ye seek, so shall ye find, and Mars passing over the Aries South Node can be extremely pugnacious and willing to fight over nothing at the drop of a hat. Unresolved anger issues can also be problematic with this placement – Mars in Aries would be much better suited to just taking it out on a heavy bag, picking up a martial art, getting laid, or doing something – anything – else that gives this stereotypically “macho” energy a healthy outlet.  Um, well how about some virtual hand-to-hand combat with “Macho Dragons” at least, LOL?  Mars has always championed dragon-slaying, and digital Uranus lingering close to Mars would certainly approve of doing it via a futuristic medium like your computer – hey, this IS the Age Of Aquarius we’re in, after all!



Real Mars can take a challenge and respects any opponent willing to go to the mat with it, baby Mars flips out and has a tantrum if someone has the *audacity* to challenge it when it know this opponent has a strong position and it might not be able to win. Lo-Fi Mars in Aries is libel to pitch a fit before throwing its toys out of the sandbox in an infantile manner; a real sore sport. Lo-Fi Mars on the South Node can also be supremely selfish, and nobody looks out for old “Numero Uno” and is capable of demonstrating such a profound lack of consideration for others as a Lo-Fi Mars in Aries! The final angle I’ll touch upon re: Path Of Least Resistance Mars is how crass, obnoxious, and abrasive it can be when done wrong. This is the lowbrow guttersnipe complete with cockney accent – indeed, this energy in combination with Venus’ simultaneous passage through this sign does have a rather Eliza Doolittle feel to it! The Libra North Node working in concert with Venus in Aries ask that we do our best to introduce a little refinement (however challenging this may be with Venus in the sign of her detriment!) to the equation.

Hopefully this post has provided ideas for how *not* to do this energy – those with planets or points near the 10 degree mark of Aries/Libra may be particularly sensitized to this vibe at the moment. Since the Moon’s Nodes are essentially creating echoes of last year’s Mars Retrograde, issues may be brought to the forefront that are reminiscent of events that arose between late December 2013 and mid May 2014. While Libra can certainly benefit from incorporating some Martian elements into their persona now, care should be taken not to swing to the other pole and go overboard with it because it can be real easy to do under these conditions. Aries, on the other hand, should be particularly wary of the hazards outlined in this article and looking to integrate a more considerate, polite, and compromising demeanor – for both signs, it appears there has been a sort of rebalancing going on where change has been the name of the game.


Mars Into Pisces, Part 2

MarsInPiscesLet’s see, where did we leave off…? Oh yes, we were discussing Mars in Pisces and reflecting upon its occasional propensity for being its own worst enemy. We’ve touched upon how guilt can be a problematic motivating force for this energy, but let’s move onto another critical topic when discussing Mars: anger. Because Pisces is the sign of “self-undoing” – the place where we metaphorically “shoot ourselves in the foot” – Mars can have difficulty with anger for a myriad of reasons when in this sign. Now I have a feeling some reading this post out of context and in a vacuum might be inclined to misinterpret my point of view on Mars in Pisces as being more controversial or negative than intended. As I’ve stated countless times, every astrological energy has the capacity to express in Hi-Fi, Lo-Fi, or in a more middle-of-the-road manner, and today we’re talking about some of the more problematic expressions of this energy is all. Rest assured that I have a much more panoramic and multi-dimensional take on this energy as a whole, but for the sake of staying on-topic and following a particular train of thought, in this specific post I am speaking only of the ways in which this placement can work against itself and wind up being its own worst enemy when dealing with anger. Pisces is symbolized by two fish tied together and swimming in opposite directions, and this imagery alone should give us an idea that it can indeed be at cross-purposes with itself from time to time.

Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way, when anger surfaces for Mars in Pisces, one possible manifestation can involve trying to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there; sweeping it under the rug in moments when healthy self-assertion is called for. Pisces energy can have a very “now you see it, now you don’t” quality to it, and it’s the inclination to dissipate anger that can lead to scenarios where this placement may be walked on by others if it’s not careful, because others may interpret this as weakness. Indeed, there can be a “conflict avoidant” side to Mars in Pisces to the point that its vision of even healthy self-assertion becomes skewed; where it mistakenly views “sticking up for itself” as “being a jerk”, thus inadvertently causing much of its own suffering in the process. It should also be noted …Read More…

Mars Into Pisces

FieryPiscesWith Mars making ready to transition from Aquarius into Pisces, we are about to experience a noted energy shift! Mars in Aquarius has been a rather frenetic vibe largely due the presence of a mutual reception between this planet and Uranus in Aries. But Mars in Pisces has an altogether different feel…it’s more restorative, relaxed, and concerned with motivations that come from an inward-focused, spiritual place rather than purely outward physical or social activity. Pisces is a reclusive sign you see, so while physical activity levels may not be as high as they have been in recent weeks once Mars dips into this sign, perhaps we’re a bit fried from all the social activity of the holiday season anyway and could really use an opportunity to rest up, reflect, or just plain veg-out on movies and catch up on some sleep!

Mars represents our vitality and physical energy – it’s our muscles, pumping red blood, desire, testosterone, and/or our “piss and vinegar”, so to speak. But Pisces is a very nebulous sign – it’s decidedly not “of the physical world” and operates on more etheric, intangible realms instead. This is the sign of the mystic, the hermit, the guru, and the dreamer, and when Mars enters here some of its physical “get up and go” tends to be dissipated and replaced by motivations and desires more idealistic in nature. You see, there has to be an element of the divine or even fantasy fueling Mars’ actions to really get him moving (swimming?) when in Pisces, because it’s never about pure physicality just for physicality’s sake. It’s not a matter of being lazy; it’s just that Mars wants his actions to have some kind of meaning that transcends the mundane whenever possible when he’s here! This is why activities like yoga, tai chi and qi gong are right up his alley – there are spiritual, meditative aspects of these pursuits being coupled with movement, which creates an ideal synergy Water (Pisces) and Fire (Mars).

When The Red Planet arrives in the sign of The Fishes (unless we’re a Pisces Sun about to get a Mars transit!), we shouldn’t be surprised if we find our energy level ebbing. Consider adapting to this state of flux and going with the flow rather than fighting it – try for lower impact, lower stress activities that engage your flexibility, like any of the above suggestions. Or try swimming a few laps in a (heated) pool and see what your muscles can do when they’re weightless…. if you close your eyes and turn on your imagination, perhaps you’ll find yourself transported to another place, like a sandy island in the tropics or an infinity-edge pool overlooking a gorgeous panoramic mountain scene. But don’t push too hard if vitality is low or you’re feeling run-down, as Pisces can also be an infirm sign and this could be a potential indicator that we’re coming down with a fever or flu. Listen to your energy level and what it tells you to do right now, because Mars in Pisces does sharpen the intuition. If it says “nuh-uh” and urges you instead to draw a hot bath, pour a warming cup of herbal tea, and curl up in a blanket, have at it without feeling guilty. That’s one of Mars in Pisces’ downfalls – doing something ill-advised because it allows itself to be motivated by guilt. A Pisces Mars has been known to be its own worst enemy from time to time, but we’ll talk about that facet (and others) of this energy the next time around…


Catching An Astrological “Buzz”!

December’s Mars-Uranus mutual reception: Mars is in Aquarius, Uranus in Aries.

Woooohooo – did ya feel that?! Mars just made the transition into Aquarius & the astrology is poppin’, as this creates a mutual reception between Mars and Uranus that will last until January 12, 2015! Mars is an invigorating influence; Uranus represents that which is unexpected, wacky, and electrifying. Put the two together, and it’s a bit like sticking your finger into an electrical socket, LOL! Be advised the power of this pairing – though in effect now – will peak between December 15th-25th.

As I stated in an earlier newsletter, this vibe is metaphorically akin to nitro-glycerin – not exactly the most stable of energetic compounds, but if used correctly it can be one hell of a propellant! There are lots of ways these two energies will be mixing and mingling during the next 5 1/2 weeks, so I’ve made a cheat-sheet below of some themes likely to be encountered while this Mars-Uranus mutual reception remains in effect – keep in mind we each get to choose which end of this vibrational spectrum we want to resonate with, so for best results strive to do the Hi-Fi side of this astro. Pick any number of expressions from the list below that suit your purposes & will help you to kick ass, and strive to find ways to rock and embody them. For example, using the list below, maybe there’s a change we’ve wanted to make but haven’t made the leap just yet for any number of reasons – let this Mars-Uranus mojo be our cue to finally get off our keister and make it happen! Let’s make like a Nike commercial and “just do it”! Or maybe the inclination of this energy to be unapologetically different gives us courage to nut up and proclaim “I yam what I yam” if we are gay.

We can also use this same premise for avoiding Lo-Fi expressions of this vibe….for instance, if we know this mutual reception can increase the likelihood of unstable tempers, perhaps we make an extra attempt to detach from our own anger if we find ourselves irrational, on “TILT”, and in need of a cooldown; or actively disengaging from hostile situations when we see others getting hot under the collar. It’s important to realize that grey area exists as well – to give you an idea of what I mean, anger isn’t always a bad thing when being ticked off prompts us to take control of a situation that needs to be changed, like, pronto. If we’re normally unsure of ourselves and not apt to be assertive enough when we need to be, getting fired up may be *exactly* the change that’s being called for. It is possible for anger to be the kick in the pants we need to buck convention when the status quo is broken, so please don’t think this emotion – in itself – is inherently “a bad thing”! Now that you have the idea, let’s explore some of this mutual reception’s themes:


Self-initiated, proactive change; an unstable temper; detaching from irritants; taking action that’s unexpected or in some way different from the norm; an unconventional or experimental sex drive; being the change we wish to see; astonishing conflicts from out of nowhere; a surprise hero or champion coming from left field; self-assertiveness that shocks/amazes; independent action; original moves; unexpected passion; clashes w/ friends; online conflicts; an active social network; new friends; doing things with groups of people; social activism; being (unapologetically) different; “I am gay”; neuroinflammation; muscle weirdness/spasms; being weird just for the sake of pissing people off or driving them crazy; contrarian; social agitator; defiant; confronting a tech challenge; the “alpha dog” of a social clique; acting crazy; novel/fresh/innovative/radical actions; getting your “freak” on; sports fraternities; an unpredictable sex drive (that abruptly switches on OR off); and last but not least, my personal favorite – kicking ass with astrology! 😉


See anything you like on the list above? I hope so, because I sure do! To soak up whatever vibe(s) we want from this list, all we have to do is align our intentions accordingly in mindset, word, and deed – carpe diem, bay-bee!


Mars Stationary Direct: Waiting In The Wings

Image: Degas, "Ballet Dancers In The Wings"
Image: Degas, “Ballet Dancers In The Wings”


Something is about to emerge – can you feel it?  Mars has just stationed direct in Libra, and it won’t be long now before a flurry of activity commences.  Watch for developments in relationships & alliances in particular.  But not *quite* yet, as Mars has to warm up his atrophied muscled first before making his grand re-entrance….be patient, but stand at the ready and be alert for the signal.  It’s almost “go time”…..