Part two in this series is called Tools for the Frontier.
For many, this weekend’s Mars-Nessus conjunction succeeded at bringing up many deep, personal issues to awareness. The Full Moon shining across the Leo-Aquarius axis helped bring things to light. Full Moons increase contrast and can help us to see in the dark.
If what I am hearing from readers, friends and clients is representative of anything, deep material has been coming to the surface, and there is growing awareness that sexual healing is a subject that must come into focus.
(You may scan back over the Daily Astrology feature for more background, and I covered the territory in some depth in the most recent Planet Waves FM. I will continue in the forthcoming edition of PW FM as well.)
Mercury is now in mid-Aquarius and is also heading for a conjunction to Nessus. That happens Feb. 2, as the Sun reaches its peak in Aquarius. Mercury approaching Nessus over the next week is likely to focus the the discussion in an even more conscious way than Mars did, and shift the theme to communication.
In a nice dash of cosmic wit, the Sun and Nessus are conjunct on Valentine’s Day. By that time, Venus will also be in Aquarius, covering the same territory though from a more emotional perspective. Venus makes a conjunction to Nessus on Feb. 25.
Meanwhile, planets are heading for Pisces and a series of conjunctions to Neptune and Chiron, deepening access to the emotional realms. We are going to be here for a while.
The first question is not necessarily where to go next; it’s figuring out where we are now. Part of what makes this moment so critical involves not understanding our situation; part involves many solutions that only contribute to the problem, such as purity campaigns, fear-based conservatism and putting the issues ‘out of your mind’ with or without anxiety meds.
Yet another part involves a lack of places to turn, as well as many therapists who are either ignorant of sex or afraid to bring it up, whether out of ignorance, embarrassment or fear of losing their license. Many ‘energy healers’ lack any real training in this realm, and plenty have become ‘energy healers’ specifically to avoid the core material. Healers who don’t want to go there are likely afflicted with the same problem the work would be designed to address.
For nearly all people doing hands-on work, the pelvis is verboten. There are relatively few books available that address this range of topics in a coherent, understanding and accessible way — publishers are generally not interested in anything potentially controversial.
So, we stand at a frontier. The frontier is the direction of consciousness, awareness, healing — and on the next level, creating.
It’s easy to pretend the problems don’t exist; it’s easy to go on ‘having fun’ and doing what feels good in the moment. That’s the usual method. Eventually, though, most people experience the issues coming back to the surface. Many have figured out that there is a cycle involved — the issue might follow you from one relationship to the next, or disappear beneath the surface and reappear later in a different form.
An Astrological Picture
Let’s take a moment and review the astrology. Nessus, discovered in 1993, is a small object in our solar system, the orbit of which extends past Neptune on the far end and closer than Uranus on the near end. It takes 122.4 years to orbit the Sun. Nessus was the third centaur (first was Chiron in 1977, then Pholus in 1992). It’s currently in Aquarius, the sign of mental thought forms and social trends.
On Saturday, Mars — the planet of action, desire and aggression — made a conjunction to Nessus, a once per two-year event. Mars is closely involved with sex because it’s about desire that we act on. The problem with Mars is that not everyone uses theirs, and many do so in messy ways. As a result we often perceive desire or action as having a victim: I’ll get what I want, or do what I want, at someone else’s expense. Mars conjunct Nessus may have pointed to the sensation of victimhood as associated with desire.
Nessus involves psychological shadow material, even more so than most of the other centaurs — emotions such as body shame, guilt, self-reproach and anxiety projected into/onto the genitals. Also included are potentially inappropriate sexual contact, the legacy material associated with rape, subtler violations of sexual consent, and sex within families where the abuse of trust or power is the deeper issue (known as incest).
Nessus also describes cycles of karma, which sometimes can seem endless, and extend from, or into, the lives of many people we’re associated with. It’s like the hall of mirrors where every potential consequence for anything you’ve done, or any fear, is looking right back at you.
It’s About Trust
Our modern crisis of trust within relationships, betrayal and the whole complex of thought and experience around sexually transmitted infections often come up when Nessus is in the picture. This seems to have been true for a good few people this week as Mars, the planet of desire, approached its conjunction with Nessus as the Full Moon came to a peak late Saturday and into Sunday.
The ‘lesson’ of Nessus is to take control by taking responsibility, starting with being aware of the situation you face. Melanie Reinhart’s keynote for this planet is “the buck stops here,” which in your life means with you.
We live in the midst of a society in sexual crisis. Many factors have led us here; we don’t need to look far, though that still doesn’t make it easy to call the crisis what it is. We tend to go on pretending, or using work-arounds and various forms of evasion, often not knowing what else to do.
The crisis as I see it includes fear of abandonment or betrayal, the conflation of sex and violence, desire stirring up fear and shame, jealousy and the blind terror that even the notion of it can induce, and any form of anxiety associated with pleasure. Guilt and judgment are involved. And when this stuff surfaces, it can take over entirely, shutting down the expression of love and pleasure.
The work-arounds usually involve some form of denial or avoidance, for example, monogamy as a means to avoiding fear of sexual infections or jealousy. This works until it does not — that is, until the fear surfaces anyway, or gets expressed in a new way that the work-around doesn’t address.
For example, if you deal with the fear of sexually transmitted infections by being with one partner, you can still encounter something in the medical literature informing you that someone can have something undetected from 15 years ago. Or a partner has some element of their history they haven’t shared — and that can set off a new eruption of the crisis.
I think that at this point, the most helpful thing we can do is admit where we are; that is to say, within your own life, admit where you are. If you have a partner or a lover, I suggest you make a list of all the things you have not said to that person. If you’re in therapy, make a list of everything you have not told your therapist. The contents of the list itself, and whether you reveal some (or all) of that material, will be a test of whether you trust that person.
I think that it’s fair to define intimacy as the combination of awareness and communication. This implies vulnerability, which is not intimacy per se — it’s one of the conditions that makes it possible. Vulnerability requires trust, and that calls for understanding.
What we have not said, which can include what we haven’t fully admitted to ourselves, is the frontier where we stand. A frontier is not a full-service campground. It’s not the Marriott. It’s going to be necessary to improvise, and to take some risks, though useful, well-developed tools are available. Part of what we need to do is find those tools and begin to make use of them.
I suggest we not look for solutions but rather for clarity. One tool is to identify a person in your life whom you trust enough to have full disclosure with. Remember — this may not be your lover, if certain topics are off the table. It may not be your therapist if you don’t feel comfortable talking about sex.
But if you think carefully, you may identify one person you trust who doesn’t have a vested interest in your outcome (i.e., feel personally threatened by what you say and feel). If you cannot find such a person, notice the fears that led you to that state. Be explicit with yourself what you don’t want to talk about. Often the morass of ‘confusion’ is like a hedge between you and the truth. Therefore, be clear with yourself, which may take a number of days or weeks to accomplish.
There was one philosopher in the 20th century who was willing to enter this territory — his name was Wilhelm Reich. He warned against trying to go forward with grand plans about the future without first addressing what he called the emotional plague, the very thing I’ve been describing.
He wrote: “It would amount to insanity to initiate such major projects as ‘children of the future’ or ‘world citizenship’ without comprehending how it was possible that all this misery went on for millennia unabated, unrecognized, unchallenged.”
Now is the time, at least, to recognize what is happening to us. It’s time to face within, which is the frontier.
I’ll have specific suggestions for how to move through this territory in Monday night’s edition, and in this week’s Planet Waves FM. If you have ideas or experiences to share, please post them into the comments area.