How to Love Yourself

By Eric Francis

Sign art by Liz Webb.

Sign art by Liz Webb.

Your charts this year are a study in self-esteem, and how your life is different when you respect yourself and when you don’t. Yet this is not any kind of abstract exercise. You are seeking direct experience in every facet of life — your relationships, your creative process, your sexuality. Follow your curiosity and your passion and you will be guided to the hot core of who you are. Follow your pleasure and you will discover that there is no basis for judgment. Commit to being vividly honest with yourself and with others, and you will dissolve whatever it was that bound you to the past, setting yourself free to live in a self-creative way.

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Virgo Part One

Virgo Part Two

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Self-esteem is one of the most important issues of our day. We live in a world with a lot of potential and a lot of problems, and among many other people, often in a competitive environment. Where someone ends up will often be mediated and perhaps even determined by their self-esteem. How you perceive the world, whether you’re able to give and receive love, whether you can find a place where you’re valued — all of these are directly related to this idea.

The term self-esteem, however, can be confusing, since the word esteem is becoming archaic. I prefer to use the terms self-respect and self-value, which is what the term self-esteem breaks down to when you study its history. Esteem can mean high regard; however, it’s also related to the concept estimate. I think we need a stronger idea to describe something so close to the core of one’s well being.

Image by RAEchel Running.

Image by RAEchel Running.

Virgo has a reputation for being hard on itself, and it’s something I’ve noticed tends toward the truth. The discerning, exacting quality of your sign can easily turn against itself, and when this happens, it’s not pleasant for anyone, especially for you.

I begin with this topic for two main reasons. One involves the grand cross (Mars-Jupiter-Uranus-Pluto) currently taking shape in the sky. Mars retrograde is involved in this aspect, which is the central event of 2014 astrology and the peak moment of our generation’s astrology, and it happens in your 2nd house of self-worth. (This is your 2nd solar house if you have Virgo Sun, 2nd by whole sign houses if you have Virgo rising.) The 2nd in traditional astrology is about one’s resources and available cash, and in psychological astrology that translates to how you feel about yourself.

It’s challenging enough to have Libra here; Libra has a hard time making up its mind. The insinuation is that you struggle with ambivalence about how you feel toward yourself. Mars, which will be in Libra for about eight months (from this past December through this coming July), is pushing the issue — though it may be accentuating the debate rather than tipping the scales one way or the other.

Mars is making a series of aspects to planets in other houses devoted to the concept of worth: it’s opposite Uranus in Aries in your 8th house, which is highlighting the perils of putting your worth into the hands of others. It’s square Jupiter in Cancer, which is your 11th house, the one associated with your role in society and the gains you collect from your professional activities.

And it’s square Pluto in Capricorn, your 5th house — the house of pleasure and play, overlaid by a sign that makes it a bit difficult for your inner child, or your inner artist, to come out and play. Pluto is working its evolutionary miracles on your 5th house, and when I come back to the grand cross in greater detail, I will propose that this really is the master transit of your life right now — the one that you can make the most progress with.

Because Mars in your 2nd house is contacting all of the planets I just described, it offers an image of your self-respect and self-worth.

My second reason for beginning with the theme of self-esteem involves several minor points that are shifting onto the mutable cross — the cross of the heavens that includes Virgo. Because these points are so rarely used, you’re unlikely to read about them in any other annual forecast or horoscope; however, they have been part of my astrology for a long time.

The point that is moving into Virgo is called Transpluto. It’s a hypothetical point, developed a century or so ago, and now nearly abandoned by astrology. It has been in Leo since the 1930s and is in the midst of a three-year transition into Virgo.

Transpluto reminds me of the incarnation of shadow Virgo — the ultimate in self-critique. However, I think it’s going to be a lot better off in Virgo than it was in Leo. It has some useful attributes as well, such as the ability to be specific. Yet with this transit, there is the risk of overdosing on perfectionism.

The key to this is making it an asset rather than a liability. The way to do that is to be aware of the phenomenon. I suggest you not take for granted our society’s obsession with self-help that results in very few people actually improving their lives. Perfectionism is inherent in our cultural obsession. But at least on the personal level it’s rarely put to good use, and on the institutional level, it can be about perfect marketing campaigns for perfect products with lots of waste produced.

In human terms, this might show up as an obsession with self-improvement but without the corresponding devotion to healing. So one key to Transpluto is seeking balance, and also looking around back for the other side of any reality that you perceive. It’s fair to say that Transpluto presents an ongoing reminder to keep an open mind.

The 7th: Your Relationship Angle

Directly opposite your sign, in Pisces, there is a group of influences. Pisces is your 7th house (7th solar house for Virgo Sun, 7th by whole sign houses for Virgo rising), which you can think of as representing your relationships, your environment or your mirror in physical reality. This has been a busy place, with both Chiron and Neptune arriving in recent years. Their arrival is putting a distinct emphasis on relationships, though that emphasis may be difficult to suss out.

Chiron is extending a hand to you, inviting you into the world of relationship for the purpose of healing. You might be encountering people who are more like mentors, teachers and healers than what you would consider appropriate relationship material. It’s vital, however, that you establish real contact with anyone who falls into this general description, particularly if you respect them and benefit from their wisdom. One attribute of Chiron is learning from those older or more experienced than ourselves.

If you’re in an established relationship, Chiron can be pointing out the ways that relationship needs to improve, and how both you and your partner can deepen your experience by shifting your commitment to one another to a focus on healing. Chiron thrives on purpose; it’s happiest when everyone benefits.

The more challenging presence is Neptune in your 7th house. This can do one of three things, mainly. The first is to invite you into dreamy, fantasy-driven situations that might be truly pleasant but somehow seem unreal. To explore this aspect of Neptune it’s helpful to have that whole non-attachment thing going.

The most beautiful or interesting situations Neptune presents will likely be ones that you cannot cling to. Even if you can, the best approach is to live in the moment, just like in a dream, and appreciate the experience as deeply as you can. This is the nature of love and reality at its best: it’s not an institution or an establishment, it’s an experience lived from moment to moment.

If any such situation grows into something where the primary commitment is to healing, teaching or learning, the Chiron factor can take over and the relationship can have some enduring purpose. Yet it would probably exchange some of its dreaminess for a more stable quality of practicality.

Scenario 2 with Neptune’s presence in the 7th house in Pisces can represent the mendacity factor. Neptune makes it easy to live in an environment of make-believe and denial. We do enough of that in the world, and a lot of it is related to factors of which Neptune is a significator, such as alcohol. The operative factor about alcohol tends to be what it suppresses, as well as the emotional distance that it creates.

Neptune’s presence can describe a situation wherein the tension of a situation builds, and then there is nothing that seems to be able to release it. It can feel like clouds and thunder that don’t turn into rain.

So this placement requires a reality check: for example, if you have a partner, what haven’t you said to them? Make a list of everything you’ve withheld and see if you can get a sense of what it means; try to notice a pattern. Notice what it says about your relationship, or how you feel about someone you’re with.

Chiron in the same house is providing an alternative, and may also be provoking a crisis of awareness. So you may be living within two seemingly competing states of being — the denial factor of Neptune and the awakening factor of Chiron. If you’re feeling that tension, observe whether you’re resisting one factor, the other or both.

Chiron’s presence in the 7th will come with persistent calls to awakening, though if you ignore them they will eventually result in some kind of system breakdown.

Scenario 3 with Neptune’s presence, which may also be emphasized by Chiron, is a state of isolation. Neptune in particular can leave you feeling like you’re the only person in the world. This is an odd feeling, and it can even happen when you’re surrounded by people. It’s a little like the feeling of living on an island without a bridge.

The island might be a lovely place, but there are not so many people around, and they all got to the island before you did. So you don’t exactly feel like you have a lot of company or mutual support. This can be useful — perhaps a good (or necessary) time to Zen out and appreciate the inner nature of your mind. It’s a time to get the spiritual side of your life in order and to appreciate your relationship to nature.

Remember though that Neptune is not the only thing that is there. Chiron is also a presence in this house, and one of the central metaphors for Chiron is a bridge. Chiron is excellent at helping the human personality address or work within the environment of Neptune, providing a way over or under the water, or a seaworthy craft that you can use to make your way across.

Chiron always provides a method, a solution, a way out or through. It may not be as convenient as you would like, but it’s always there, always available.

Enter Centaur Nessus

There are two additional new influences in 2014 which I have barely mentioned anywhere: centaurs Nessus and Asbolus are changing signs, and mounting the mutable cross. Centaurs, of whatever color, will always raise the energy level. The word usually used is ‘intense’. They also share the properties of being involved in the healing process, dealing with challenging situations rather than avoiding them, as well as encountering unusual situations.

The first new influence is ingressing Pisces, your relationship angle. Let’s consider that first. This would be Nessus, the third-ever discovered centaur (discovered in 1993, and the first planet ever named in consultation with astrologers).

I will not go so far as to predict how this will feel, but I have enough experience with Nessus to describe some of the necessities that it encompasses. Nessus above all is about accountability. It is therefore essential that you take a pragmatic approach to your relationships and your philosophy of relationships and factor this in.

Nessus can also represent a factor from the past that is entering your life for the purpose of resolution. It may concern a situation from this lifetime or another one; in any event, what you will have in operation is the law of cause and effect. Nessus can represent the ‘bad blood’ factor in relationships, so I suggest you go out of your way to minimize that, and to address situations that may remain unresolved.

Just to keep things interesting, Nessus makes its first ingress to Pisces in more than a century on April Fool’s Day, so keep your sense of humor. It returns to Aquarius for one final visit starting in early August, and makes its final ingress to Pisces on Feb. 7, 2015. I will keep you up to date about developments in the Friday editions of Planet Waves.

One last comment. Nobody alive has natal Nessus in Pisces; nobody alive has ever experienced it, since Nessus has an orbit of just over 122 years. It has, I believe, the potential for some genuinely interesting and different relationship experiences for you — encounters with people you would never have met, circumstances you would never have discovered otherwise, and states of mind that are totally new and unusual to you.

Remember, though, that you’re in centaur territory — the land of light and shadows; the bare essence revealed of what it means to be human. This factor, along with Chiron and Neptune, will compel you to keep it real and to focus on healing as well as on pleasure.

So — suffice it to say — from this and other influences, relationships are an essential element of your life. You will be compelled to take them seriously in a way that you never have before, yet at the same time it will be necessary to take a lighthearted approach to your encounters with others.

Centaur Asbolus in Gemini

Another centaur has taken up residence on the mutable cross, though this happened last year: Asbolus ingressed from Taurus to Gemini. This places a new focus on your career house. I think that one of the central themes of career vis-a-vis Virgo is, what do you do if you have two radically different sets of ambitions?

For a long time I have counseled Virgos to establish a relationship between those two (or more) seemingly opposing goals and see the common ground. This is necessary to create a synergistic effect — the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. They are unlikely to be as different as you think they are.

Because Asbolus is involved, this is likely to be a matter of survival. You need to get the different attributes of yourself and facets of your psyche working together. This will save you considerable energy and also help you resolve any conflict you may feel about how your life work always seems to be pulled in two different directions. Once you see what those directions have in common, you will be able to focus more effectively on developing both facets, because energy invested in one will also serve the other.

Getting this down is a matter of practice, rather than one single achievement. So therefore give yourself time to do that — to experiment, to reveal aspects of what you do on ‘one side’ of your life with people on the ‘other side’, and don’t let yourself fall for the idea that there is such a thing as a taboo.

Your authenticity will encourage people to deal with you as a whole person, and as someone who has something to offer.

A Comment about Sagittarius

You have a collection of planets in your 4th house, Sagittarius. I have addressed these in several past readings; there is a lot to cover and I do suggest that if you’re curious, you research your past birthday readings and annual readings. I will provide a summary here. This grouping in Sagittarius represents ancestral material that has come through your family.

This is one of several influences that is provoking your growth, awareness and compassion. It’s essential that you keep some distance on this material, as most of it long predates your birth.

What is new in 2014 is that the master planet that addresses family patterns, Quaoar, is about to make a series of conjunctions to the Galactic Core. The suggestion here is that you don’t have to weed through every single influence, insult and injury from the past to resolve it.

You can assess the sum total of the patterns and how they have influenced you and treat this as one phenomenon. You may of course want to tease out certain of the more challenging ones that have filtered in through the generations, and I suggest you look closely at the influence of alcohol on the past three to four generations of your family, to the extent that you can study this.

That may be the single most important factor to investigate, if you’re going to pick one as a subject of inner work or therapy. It may bind together and therefore help unravel a group of issues.

However, there is a much larger force at work, which is encouraging you to see your life as a holistic entity and proceed as if that is true. Emphasize what you want to be and what you want to become.

The Mars Square Pluto Effect

Though Mars in Libra (described above as the self-esteem factor) completes a grand cross, there are two angles of this cross that I believe will be the most influential in your life.

Mars in Libra is the drive to find your values, and to establish authentic respect for yourself. Pluto in the 5th house is the even more powerful drive to understand your creative and sexual needs, and to do what you can to express them.

With Mars in Libra there will be some deliberation. With Pluto in Capricorn you are penetrating through layers of cultural, family and personal material to get to the hot core of your sexuality and creative gifts. There is a relationship between the two, and this is highlighted by the series of squares that Mars and Pluto are making.

One way I can say this is that you could research your self-worth/self-respect in an abstract way, as you might with Mars retrograde in Libra. That could be where you confront a kind of personal ambivalence. I suggest, however, that you make this process as tangible as you can.

That would be Pluto in Capricorn, which is like a vast exploration of expressive art therapy for you. Well, expressive art and expressive sexuality. Pluto will be content with nothing other than your consciousness making contact with the core of who you are, and bringing that to the surface of your life.

There are many facets to this, as there are in anything so deep, though the essence of the journey in my view is this: You are determined to penetrate through, dissolve or work out the fear that stands between you and who you really are. You can get there just one way, through direct experience.

With Pluto and the 5th house involved, that will be daring action, and with Capricorn there, it will feel like a revolutionary confrontation of some kind — perhaps with the past, with your family’s conditioning, with your own relationship patterns, with all the limits that society places on people. This is also an inner confrontation, but it’s a gentle one; it’s a meaningful one; it’s love in action, and that love is about embracing the determination to grow into who you are. To do that growing you must dive deep into the source of the love, deep into the heart of your life-force energy, which is something that you do for real, with your senses and your hands and your feet.

Where do you start? Be real about what you want to explore — be open with yourself, compassionate and never stop to judge your desire. If you get to that place of judgment, stop and make a conscious choice to let it go. Your passion, your creativity and most of all your curiosity will guide you inward, into yourself in a way you’ve never experienced.

In short, the way to love yourself is to let go of the habit of self-judgment and let desire take its place; and then you give yourself permission to act on your desire, every day if you must, every time you need to.

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Virgo chart.

Virgo chart.

Virgo sketch.

Virgo sketch.

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