Clarity is Better than Perfection

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Reality Check for Virgo and Virgo Rising | 2012 Annual Horoscope by Eric Francis

As a Virgo, you often strive for perfection, or more accurately, you can get stuck in the concept — and as a result you’re harder on yourself than you know is helpful or healthy. Growth is a worthwhile value; so too is improvement. Yet there are better ways to improve, and to improve your relationship with yourself. Your astrology this year is rife with cautions about avoiding perfectionism and learning to be gentle and even easygoing, as you explore and make some stunning discoveries during the next few seasons.

Nautilus: r = ka. Painting by P.C. Turczyn

Nautilus: r = ka. Painting by P.C. Turczyn

This is a time in your life like none other, and I mean that in the most positive sense. You’re in a position to stabilize your life and in particular your relationships. You are about to make some stunning discoveries about your life mission (what some call a career), chief among them being how well you have used your time.

Yet with Mars retrograde in your sign from late January through early April, you may be feeling the need to radically improve yourself. There are ways to do this productively, but I would suggest that the thing you really want is not perfection — it is clarity.

I would draw one other distinction, which is understanding that there is a difference between wanting to grow and improve from a state of feeling imperfect, wounded or damaged — and wanting to do so from a constructive, creative point of view.

The first four months of 2012 are a kind of preparation for the truly extraordinary events that surround the summer solstice in May and June, and then the winter solstice in December (these are the Northern Hemisphere solstices; please reverse them for Southern Hemisphere). If you thought 2011 proceeded swiftly, unexpectedly and with many unusual turns, 2012 is set to be the fastest year on record. Therefore, these few short months of preparation are an essential, though brief, interval of time before the tempo picks up radically in May — and you have to put your knowledge to work.

I would point out something else, while I am making platitudes about the world — most knowledge is wasted. That is to say, it’s collected and held in a kind of battery that is never used to power anything. Yet the fruit of knowledge is action, and if there was ever an astrological symbol for knowledge in action, that would be Mars in Virgo. There is more to it than that, but think of how great a world it would be if people actually used what they know. The world would seem, well, less stupid than it usually does.

Think of Mars in Virgo as combining the assertive warrior power it naturally has with the intellectual power of Virgo. Yet you can think of the retrograde phase of this rare extended Mars visit to your sign as illustrating an inquiry: a self-inquiry and one about the world. Don’t be concerned by what you discover that you don’t know. Make a note of it, and set about finding out. People would be a lot smarter if they realized what they don’t know, and Mars is going to help you figure this out, and provide the means to acquiring the knowledge that you want.

Not to sound too much like Yoda or Kung Fu Guy’s kung fu teacher, but all knowledge is dependent on inner knowledge. What you learn about the world must have its roots in something you know about yourself. Awareness of ‘human nature’ has its roots in awareness of your nature. Whether science makes sense depends on your personally acquired understanding of logic, and of ethics — deeply personal elements of thought. Therefore, you can follow the lead of Mars and learn about the world from the inside out — remembering that this is not idle knowledge you’re acquiring, but rather living, active and dynamic information that will guide you through what may be one of the best adventures of your life.

Mars in your sign (particularly making a long retrograde) is a personal calling to get your act together, focus your energy and most of all, know what you want. That is the point of clarity, though it will come in many steps. Mars retrograde is one of those transits that brings a temptation to hold yourself to a standard of perfection, but the danger there is the potential over-emphasis or even psychological violence toward yourself. In order to be happy, healthy and make the progress you seek, a gentle approach is going to be necessary.

What Has Stopped You In the Past?

In life we often hear people talk about what they’re going to do; what they’re planning to do; how they are going to make the most of their time. But what is it that so often stops so many people from actually putting their plans into action? You have done your share of hesitating. I suggest you make an inventory of what you believe has stopped you in the past, and why it may be that now you are more determined than ever to act on many long-delayed plans and ideas. Mars retrograde in Virgo is an intricate process. It may come with an obsessive feeling, or the drive to make everything right.

I suggest that this year, you not think in terms of accomplishing everything, or achieving all your plans, but rather (for a little while) focus on becoming aware of the things that have, in the past, hung you up. Work at success by a process of reduction. Subtract what does not work, what hurts you, and what does not really fit your plan. Look at patterns and when you find ones that are not productive, you can make the choice to intervene when you have the opportunity to do so. This may come as the seemingly unceremonious decision not to do something that you ‘always do’ once you have figured out that it’s not helping you.

Any retrograde includes a reference to the past, and Mars retrograde will have many expressions in this respect. You may discover odd, little events that have delayed you — the loss of faith in some aspect of yourself that you can attribute to something a grade school teacher said to you; a plan you put on the shelf because someone in authority tried to convince you that it was not practical; something you chose not to do because you could not see a way to match any potentially positive results with the image you had of yourself.

This is the interval when you can pick the lock — a time when you choose and then find yourself blocked by some circumstance, be it an external factor or something that is going through your mind or your feelings.

The Past May Go Really Far Back

As you may have encountered in my readings for Virgo going back the past couple of years, you are being confronted with an unusual amount of ancestral material to reckon with and process. The result may be a mix of emotional and spiritual chaos that flares up a few times a year, usually with one or two really unusually potent episodes. You go through this, and then you feel better, having not only learned something but also with the feeling of having worked out a little more karma.

Though there is little to establish this in mainstream Western thought, we are more influenced by our predecessors than we know. Much of what we think of as ‘family drama’, ‘relationship issues’, ‘struggling with intimacy’ or ‘not knowing our purpose’ has its direct roots in ancestral baggage. This shows up in your charts by a collection of slow-moving, rarely discussed planets in Sagittarius, your solar 4th house (4th house by whole-sign houses, if you’re Virgo rising). That is your security angle; your sense of your environment; your emotional grounding.

In other words, if you struggle to have the kinds of relationships that you want, or simply be yourself, you may be fighting with something extremely old. What is interesting is that these planets will take quite a long time to cross this region of your chart — from a few years to many years. This leads me to make two observations.

First, when these planets change signs/houses, they will ingress your creative angle — the solar 5th house (5th house by whole-sign houses, if you’re Virgo rising; I will stop saying that and just refer to the houses from here forward). This tells me that every ’emotional’ process is set up to become a source of creative energy. Yet you don’t have to wait for this — with consciousness, you have the power to use them for this purpose now.

Second, because these planets are in Sagittarius, there is an implied level of what you could call spiritual access to the issues that may not require the kind of therapy work that you might have to do otherwise. Yes, some form of guided process would probably be helpful, but you may feel strongly that there is a spiritual solution to what you face — and there may well be. However, as you work with potential solutions, remember that a direct point of entry into what you’re thinking of as spiritual may involve emotions and insecurities — including what you may think of as injuries and negative judgments. In essence, the problem contains the solution, as long as you see the problem from a level different from the one on which it exists.

Indeed, what you think of as a problem or an injury is likely to serve as a source of power, though I suggest you be no less willing to let it go as a result of knowing that. These conditions and situations exist for a purpose, to teach you something and to give you an opportunity to empower yourself — and when that purpose is served, I suggest you let them go.

It’s possible to do certain kinds of spiritual work that reach back into the past and unhook the snags; you might consider doing this. However, what you have now is the opportunity for a real-world learning lab.

Mars in your sign is going to make aspects to nearly all of these influences in Sagittarius/4th. Mars is about experience, and Mars in your sign is about your experience of yourself — particularly when you exert your will. Listen carefully for voices from far beyond your lifetime trying to tell you what you can and cannot do — and respond by reminding them that this is your life, not theirs.

Be particularly sensitive to the presence of guilt, the sense of ‘not having the right’ to make a certain choice, not deserving, or some idea that you’re supposed to do something else. Then, consciously, bring the matter to full clarity and make the decision you want to make. Note, this may go on for a while. You may not necessarily have the sense that you’ve actually had a breakthrough — you really need to be content with many small steps, which might be in the form of extremely basic forms of progress. Be aware of any way in which you undermine yourself, and make a choice to stop that particular life script.

In the end, however, your real quest is understanding all of the ways in which you respond and react to your experience of desire. That includes sexual desire, which is one of the most significant issues you are working out. That is a function of Mars, but it’s also related to several other transits.

Sex and Relationships: A Journey of Reconciliation with Yourself

Let’s consider the Uranus-Pluto square — one of the key 2012 aspects. The Pluto side of this transit began in 2008-2009, and for you this may have felt like rising from the crypt. Pluto in Capricorn, your 5th solar house (5th house by whole signs, if you are Virgo rising) has represented the reawakening of your curiosity, your creativity, your sexual passion and the sloughing off of many antiquated ideas about what you’re supposed to feel. You may recall some of the sensations you’re going through now from childhood, when they were more natural.

Natural is the concept — you are clearing the way for your own nature, or perhaps you could say that nature is claiming back the space taken up by a civilization of which you were never really a citizen. With Pluto in this area of your chart well past the end of the decade, your happiness will be the result of what I can only describe as evolutionary growth that is connected to you being the natural person that you are. Along the way there may be some demolition; long-standing structures may benefit from a meeting with a sledgehammer.

These are likely to be inner structures, such as your ideas about what sex is supposed to mean, which in turn manifest in your outer relationships. These structures have, in recent years, done little other than consume your life-force energy. Your experience of Pluto going through this region of your chart is about increasing your capacity to feel, and to move energy. Many people you will meet are ‘low capacity’ — they overheat and shut down if even a little power starts to course through their body. If you’ve experienced this in the past, get ready to open up.

Remember that the work you’re doing starts from within — and if you take that approach you’re likely to have it manifest outwardly. You may not be able to change a relationship, but you can relate to that person in the moment, and you can see what that experience is really about for you. Note what happens when you assert yourself. Note what happens when your desire becomes part of the equation.

The other side of this transit is Uranus in Aries. Among other things, this is about the direct experience of yourself as an individual, even if you’re in a relationship situation that has compromised this. This is the kind of thing that married people can go through when they realize that not only have they invested themselves in the relationship, but that the relationship has become the supposed source of their identity. I say ‘supposed’ because another person can never be the source of your identity. But we can have that illusion. This, by the way, is one of the ancestral concepts that you’re currently revolting against/evolving beyond/outgrowing — that a person surrenders their identity to a relationship.

If, by the way, you’re having ‘issues’ in a relationship, you might want to consider just how this might be what you’re actually experiencing — the absolute impossibility that you will not actually be an independent person in your relationships. It may seem like you have to over-emphasize the point at first, and while you’re doing that you can ask yourself whether the relationship is really serving you, in its current form, or at all. The freedom you seek may specifically be sexual freedom, which we all know is a huge taboo (and the taboo is addressed by people pretending not to do what they do, and not to know what other people do).

The taboo on sexual independence often goes so far as people thinking or feeling that they are prohibited from feeling certain feelings or imagining certain possibilities — and you know how cramped that can be. Now, no amount of what you get ‘inside’ a relationship is going to be worth sacrificing your sense of identity, independence or freedom of choice. I assure you — there are people that get this and people who do not. One of the conscious choices indicated by your astrology involves the ongoing decision to populate your life with the ones who get it. That’s another way of saying, with the people who recognize you as an autonomous person.

Chiron and Neptune in Pisces

Speaking of relationships, as you do this inner clearing work and declare your independence, other possibilities are opening up. You’ve had an influence working its way into your relationship angle since 2010 — that would be Chiron, one of the planets closely associated with Virgo. There are many ways that the events of one house carry over into another, and we could say that every aspect of your emotional healing process represented by all those planets in Sagittarius takes another form as Chiron in Pisces — your 7th house or relationship angle.

Chiron in the 7th can have many manifestations, ranging from wondering why your relationships are so confused, to an encounter with a healer or mentor that shapes your life. If we think of Chiron in the 7th as representing a soul mate, remember that this implies doing soul-level work together, not merely mating or romance. Because of the depth of personal work you’re doing at this time, I would interpret Chiron’s prominent placement in your chart as being a helping influence, and that would mean choosing your relationships on the basis of what supports your healing process and/or your growth process. If someone or some situation does not, you’re on notice that unless you address that matter, it could become the source of a new, deeper injury. The key to this transit is to recognize when something is unhealthy and do something about it.

The other key is to model all of your relationships on the ones that are working the best, and that may include the example set by the healer/mentor/elder in your life right now. It would be fair to say that you need to relate to people as mature as you are, or more so, and any struggle you’re in may be the result of a mismatch in maturity. You don’t want to compromise your own process of growth and healing for the sake of someone who cannot or refuses to grow up. You cannot ‘make’ another person mature and you can barely ‘help’ them do so. However, you can make mature choices, set an example and make any decisions that you need to make.

The reward will be the experience of greater depth in your relationships, and that means getting to their deeper potential.

There is another factor arriving in your relationship house — Neptune in Pisces. It would be hard to have more idealistic energy than the combination of Neptune and Pisces, and I suggest you do your best to temper this with a realistic view of what people are. I don’t mean misanthropic — I really do mean realistic. You may find yourself encountering people who seem like your ‘dream person’ only to discover they are out of reach or not what you thought.

It is for this reason that I take a pragmatic view of relationships. Romance is not your friend right now — but your friends are. This is not what most people want to hear, I know; romance is a drug, and it’s most difficult relationship illusion to let go of. But were it seen as an illusion, the choice would be much more obvious. You will always have the practical option available.

By practical, I suggest focusing on situations that facilitate your healing, that have some kind of a purpose or conscious result (collaborations, for example) or that at the least do not get in the way of the important work, exploration and play that are at hand and finally available to you. With all this Neptune energy about to enter your life, you will need to make a conscious choice to harness it in practical ways.

Neptune also warns of one other thing. When the influence moves from inspiring or creative into territory that is deceptive or delusional, that’s the time to take heed. It’s essential that you brook no dishonesty in your life — from you, toward you, or in your environment. You may have to resist the temptation to ‘fix’ the environment or fix another — if you sense that you’re in a dishonest place, that’s the time to move on.

One thing to be mindful of is disillusionment. Remember that the only thing you can become disillusioned over are illusions, so avoid having too many of those and you will keep a clear perspective of reality. Remember that you have important work to do in your inner world and the worldly world, and one great aid to getting that done will be making sure that your relationships all support you.

Venus Transit of the Sun

Speaking of important work — the rare gem of an event this year is the Venus transit of the Sun, and it takes place in your house of career, the 10th — Gemini. One interesting thing about Virgo is the tendency to have two careers that might not seem compatible, but both of which are high priority. This is actually a necessary feature of how you express yourself. You like options; you have diverse interests; binding yourself up in one idea or expression of life can feel limiting, but more than this is going on. You may actually have two truly strong callings, and they may seem to conflict.

Sometimes you live with the question of what would happen if you really put your all into something truly important to you, for long enough to get a result. The image of the Venus transit of the Sun is something like going beyond both of your prior objectives or career paths. It’s as if something beyond both emerges, which you recognize because you’ve invested so much energy in clearing denial and blockages out of the way. As you open up the flow of creative energy, you will be making room for developments later in the year that are likely to profoundly influence decisions involving your career and how you relate to your work.

One theme of this story involves understanding the psychology of what you want to be known for. It could be that you have not felt ready to be known for what you want to do the best; it could be that you’re not ready to release some previous commitment or loyalty that would be obviated by your stating what it is you really want to do. Remember, though, this is about a lot more than an activity — the developments are about relating to your calling on the innermost level that you then express in the world.

This transit has been described as the expression of the solar feminine. This might seem like a contradiction, but it describes a condition wherein you are expressing something that is potentially unusual, or that you consider unusual. I would ask you: In what way have sex and gender roles influenced your professional aspirations and choices? Have you been reluctant to do certain things, or have you been drawn to certain things, due to an appeal on the level of what you (or others) felt was appropriate? And what if you could resolve that?

Above all, your aspects this year describe coming to terms with yourself at a depth that goes beyond how you are described or a role that you play. Indeed you could say that this is the time to go beyond any and all roles — and to be real from the core. Remember, this is not a matter of perfection or even of improvement: what you are reaching for is clarity.

Your 2012 annual interpretation also includes an extended audio reading. That is available at the top of this page.

Don’t forget to read and listen to your rising sign. Use this link to purchase additional signs of Revelation. Revolution. Reality Check.

Read the past three years of Virgo annual interpretations for just $19.95. Includes Next World Stories, Cosmic Confidential and Light Bridge. These were designed to be multiple-year interpretations, preparing for and extending into 2012.