Planet Waves | May 2018 | Planet Waves Monthly | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Planet Waves | May 2018 

Be Yourself, No Matter What They Say

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTINE YATES
  • Illustration by Christine Yates

Chiron is now in Aries. Its eight-year trek through Pisces is ending, and a new era in astrological history is beginning. By any metric, the theme is individuality.

I don't mean individuality in the sense of being a member of a tribe, or a movement, or an organization, or a TIKI-torch brigade. I don't mean drinking Pepsi, which makes you different from someone who drinks Coke. This is not about something you tattoo onto your skin, but rather the cultivation of your soul.

Chiron in Aries can be summed up in two words: self-actualization.

This is usually defined as a noun, which is a thing: "the realization or fulfillment of one's talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone."

I think of it more as a verb, a process, and both a journey within oneself, and the experience of growing, and bringing what you contain outward to the world. This process and the natural impulse that drives it are often buried beneath thick blankets of denial and hazy self-awareness, lost in habit, and worn down by resistance.

Perhaps most of all, the desire to self-actualize is often sacrificed to what seems like a more primal need to conform to what others expect of you, or what you think they expect. This style of conformity is propagated in early childhood, by what Wilhelm Reich called the miniature authoritarian state, the family. Usually, curiosity is its first casualty; independent-minded people are always curious.

Why This is About Chiron in Aries

Aries is the sign related to self, to identity and to self-concept. You can take it on many different levels, from vanity to the quest for being. Part of what determines one's particular style of experiencing Aries are the planets placed there.

In many ways, Chiron is the very symbol of self-actualization. It was discovered in 1977, at the peak of what was called the Human Potential Movement. The concept "holistic" was finding its way into culture, and this is another idea represented by Chiron. Holistic means being a whole person, a meta-theme of Chiron.

The first keyword for this new planet came from its discoverer, Charles Kowal, who declared, "This thing is a maverick!" Old Samuel Maverick (1803-1870) was the rancher who refused to brand his cattle. Hence his name became synonymous with someone who refuses to conform. This turns out to be one of the most practical delineations of Chiron: People who have it prominently placed tend to stand out whether they like it or not. They're unlikely to do as told unless it suits their own purposes. If you have a prominent Chiron (which you can only tell from looking at your natal chart), you need to make peace with being different, and master the art of doing so.

Chiron is now prominently placed for everyone, hanging out near the first degree of the zodiac, called the Aries Point. The Aries Point is the location of the Sun on the day of the vernal equinox, when it enters Aries. The Aries Point's energy extends out to all of the cardinal points (the first degrees of Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn, where the seasons begin); it's the big intersection between the personal and the collective.

Said another way, what happens involving the Aries Point can be multiplied over a large population, and also manifests in deeply personal ways. There can be seemingly external events with wide-scale but unusually personal impact. Waves can course through society and give the effect, or the reality, of significant change and progress.

Consider Chiron's hyper-self-awareness, its drive for distinction, and its ability to put a lens in front of anything and magnify all the details.

And Chiron often arrives with one other thing: a healing crisis. This typically happens when one makes a commitment to get well. You might think of it as the "things get worse right before they get better" phase of the process—and it is the getting worse that many people resist, and therefore avoid embarking on their healing journey.

Waking up to oneself, which is the only waking up there is, is not all sweetness and starlight. If you have reasons to stay asleep, awakening can be messy, though there's plenty of anticipation anxiety. One of the first things someone may have to admit is the extent of their pain and unresolved material; their still-unpacked personal baggage. It may seem easier to drag around, though this has a natural limit.

As for self-awareness, most people associate this with being self-conscious, which means feeling awkward. Thus the whole "raising awareness" thing is not necessarily a big seller, seemingly for this reason. However, like learning how to dance, do yoga, play music, or write with a pencil, you must go through the awkward phase to gain some dexterity and get the rewards.

The Rage Problem

One situation society is facing at the moment is a rage problem. Many people are, at the least, frustrated, let down, and pissed off, and many are packing some serious, unprocessed, and unmanaged anger. Many are depressed, which is another way of staying angry but not giving it a voice.

Anger and rage show up in various forms, from hostility to road rage to domestic violence to taking aggressive and self-righteous positions on issues, such as deporting "illegal" aliens.

Consider how many people are shot every day in the United States: That is symptomatic of anger. The police randomly shooting people is about anger, and fear. Mass shootings are about anger. So, too, is thinking you need to have a gun.

The bullying problem that we're seeing on every level of society: There's a good example of rage.

In his classic 1988 work on recovery, Healing the Shame that Binds You, John Bradshaw describes self-righteousness as one of the most addictive drugs in existence.

Yet there seems to be little interest in either harnessing this energy and using it for something productive or healing it. To make the commitment to heal wounds require first admitting one's anger, and maybe declaring a truce. Then the next step is to be introspective and consider the root of one's feelings.

There is an idea going around that the solution to everything that makes us angry is to be more angry. Yet that is like trying to smooth out the surface of water with a canoe paddle. The "blow off rage" approach is likely to make matters worse, and to further damage the trust in one another that we need to do anything positive.

Aries is ruled by the planet Mars, and has many resonances with it. Mars is a kind of omnibus planet that addresses matters of desire, assertion, aggression, anger, warfare, and other forms of violence. This summer, Mars will be retrograde in Aquarius (from June 26 to August 27). This is the astrology that will dominate the summer emotionally, and it could go a few different ways.

Aquarius is the sign of groups, social patterns, cultural patterns, and the technology that binds them. Aquarius is not really the public, but more a subsection of the public that includes your circle of friends and the people they know. It involves organizations and informal associations, and the social patterns that they create or enforce. Aquarius is about the rules of civilization, whether helpful or not.

Mars retrograde in Aquarius looks like some kind of current running through society. Mars in Aquarius describes the individual in relationship to the groups that he or she belongs to.

In retrograde motion, Mars is likely to assert itself against the group, and retrograde would represent old issues, anti-social conduct, or unpopular views. At its best, it looks like Chiron in Aries: the willingness to be a maverick and go against the grain.

Aquarius is the sign of groups. Yet most things that we think of as groups are really something else. Only individuals can form a group. Most people have not individuated; so, when they get together, that is a mass, a crowd, a mob or a collective—but not necessarily a group. Once people have individuated, they are capable of connecting on the level of group consciousness, which is different from mass consciousness.

The Issue with Being an Individual

Asserting oneself as an individual comes with risks. There are challenges to individuation and self-actualization, which are not often mentioned by those who proffer these ideas. Being an individual means standing out: Your life is your own, you make your own choices, you have your own opinions, and you do things your own way.

To do this, there is, necessarily, the ingredient of, "I don't care what others think" involved in the process. No matter how polite you are about this, it's still possible to annoy people merely by being who you are. This is why being a conformist is so popular, and why so few people express their honest opinion: They "stay out of trouble" by being quiet. That, however, is not self-actualization.

Yet responding to both Chiron in Aries and to Mars retrograde in Aquarius will call for asserting oneself, standing out, being different, and addressing the results. This takes courage, which is the opposite of conformity.

We live in times when everyone is expected to make everyone else feel safe, secure, and this odd thing called comfortable. Yet this does not work together with people asserting who they are against the norms of society, or their micro-culture. We have to choose: We either welcome or tolerate difference, which means tolerating what we don't like; or everyone is expected to fall in line.

As someone learning, growing, and self-actualizing, the comfort of other people is not your business, and it cannot be a factor that hinders your progress. For example, if a person is coming out as trans, how other people feel about that is not the point. The point is they are doing what they need to do.

Within the bounds of civil conduct (acting lawfully and with basic respect of others), you are free to conduct your life as you wish. You do not have a responsibility to protect the "comfort" of others or to ensure that you don't make them "uncomfortable." You are only required to respect their rights.

Even a mainstream program like Alcoholics Anonymous teaches that you cannot control what other people feel, so there's no point in trying.

Nobody has a right to tell you who you are, what you should wear, who you should associate with, how you're supposed to act—nor, most significantly, how you're supposed to think. But you can be sure that someone will: When someone asserts their individuality, there is almost always some pushback, and sometimes a lot.

The most important place to watch for this is in your personal relationships. Within a couple situation, one partner will often be threatened by any sign of growth or awakening consciousness in their partner. Any time the identity of one person in a relationship begins to shift, the mental structure of the relationship can be threatened. This can lead to jealous episodes.

Unless you're someone who has an agreement with your partner to grow and to honor one another's individuality, there is likely to be some flak. This can involve resistance to anything from going to community college, to having opposite-sex friends, to wanting to take a trip. People can resist when you want to deepen your spiritual path or evolve your political thinking.

This puts pressure on many people in relationships to suppress change, growth, their opinions, their deeper needs, and their desire to be an independent person.

This scenario also happens in families, where people are under all kinds of pressure: to do what their father did for a living, to be in the family business, to stay in the same town, to get married, to be straight, to not go to college—or just to be miserable like everyone else.

Sting summed it up beautifully in the song "History Will Teach Us Nothing."

If we seek solace in the prisons of the distant past

Security in human systems we're told will always always last

Emotions are the sail and blind faith is the mast

Without the breath of real freedom we're getting nowhere fast

Or as he offered in another song: Be yourself, no matter what they say.


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