We have a lot going on in the sky this week, and although most of the major events peak toward the end of the week (the Aquarius New Moon on Thursday and Venus stationing direct Friday chief among them), a pair of oppositions are keeping our behavior in relationship front and center. The most immediate is exact today at 11:43 am EST: Mars in Libra opposite Eris in Aries.
Everyone alive today has Eris in Aries, since it is in the process of spending more than a century in this sign. In myth, Eris the goddess played upon the vanity and insecurity of her sister goddesses, causing discord and strife when she rolled a golden apple inscribed “To the fairest” into a wedding to which she alone (out of all Olympus) had not been invited. The ultimate result was the Trojan War. Eris the minor planet created its own kind of discord and upheaval when its discovery in 2005 lead to the de-classification of Pluto as a planet.
As a result, Eris in astrology carries among its themes one manifestation of the shadow feminine: a female energy that provokes insecurity in others regarding identity and self-image. As Eric has delineated in a PDF titled “Eris: Facets and Fragments of Self,” this mythological discord (combined with Eris’s original nickname, “Xena,” after the postmodern television heroine) translates and speaks to the constant state of identity crisis we’re living as denizens of this postmodern world.
There is, however, a positive expression of Eris. Depending on its house placement in a natal chart (for example, right on a person’s ascendant), Eris can also represent the recovery of a lost fragment of self. That recovery of self has been described by Eric’s friend and fellow astrologer Paloma Todd as, “a placement that moves a lot of shadow in others, and when integrated and activated gives power through immunity to other peoples’ expectations and projections.”
That is, it’s possible for an Eris placement (such as conjunct the ascendant) to bring out others’ psychological shadow material. It activates it; but at the same time, in doing so, it can allow the person with this Eris to evade the projections of others as they express their shadows.
This question of projections — provoking them, recognizing when we’re projecting, calling back those projections and owning the shadow — is key to today’s Mars-Eris opposition. This is the god of drive, libido and aggression in the sign of relationships on one side, and the goddess of discord and the reclamation of shadowy facets of self on the other side. We’re in the middle, on Earth.
It boils down to mindfulness in relating and relating from a place of wholeness: seeing your ‘stuff’ as being within yourself rather than seeing it as solely existing in a relationship partner. If you start hearing yourself speaking a lot of sentences beginning with “You always…” or “You never…” or “You’re so…” when talking to a partner, you’re in projection-and-blame territory. Hit the ‘pause’ button and do a little self-inventory. This is deep work; it might take a while.
The great thing is, once you crack things open even a little, the light can start shining in. As my friend Odessa perceptively remarked in a recent post on her blog, “Projections can only exist in the presence of darkness.”
Granted, not everything the light shines on will look all that pretty at first — but that’s part of the challenge of living in wholeness: loving these shadowy parts of ourselves for the truth they show us, and for showing us where we can set about healing and growing next.
Consider also that in very basic terms, Mars-Eris is looking for forward momentum in relationships. But if it comes at the expense of oneself (or an important part of oneself), there’s going to be some resentment or kickback. Beware of tactics born of unacknowledged resentments; that is one definition of ‘toxic’. Speak your piece to keep the peace, since pushing concerns aside will backfire — but speak in “I” statements and remember to play fair if you want to play at all.
What you learn with this opposition will be reviewed, tested and hopefully refined over the next several months, as this is the first of three Mars-Eris oppositions due to the upcoming retrograde of Mars in Libra. Keep that in mind as we near the end of Venus’ retrograde in Capricorn. Venus has been taking us on a tour of our values and our past relationships; today Mars and Eris are giving us an echo from the near future.
“Eris: Facets and Fragments of Self” was originally published as part of The Spiral Door, the 2007 annual edition by Eric Francis. Your 2014 annual readings, called The Mars Effect, feature interpretations of the upcoming Mars retrograde in Libra for all 12 Sun signs and rising signs — as well as articles by more than a dozen Planet Waves collaborators. Access to the articles is open to all; you can order instant access to Eric’s individual sign readings here.
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