A Bird Flew In

Dear Friend and Reader:

This week, both Venus and Mars begin to pass through outer-planet squares. Venus is currently in late Sagittarius, and Mars is in late Aries. While the aspects come into full focus early next week, around the time of the Feb. 4 Aquarius New Moon, we can use the look-ahead ability of astrology.

When inner planets pass through aspects involving outer planets, there can be deep and interesting effects. Outer planets, in this case ones such as Chiron, Pluto and Eris, tend to describe the longer processes of growth and individuation. Inner planets describe emotional states, feelings, desires and immediate motives.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

Both aspect patterns involve squares, which indicate that something wants to be expressed. Remember that. Pay attention to what you feel and what you want to say about it. We live in a moment when it only seems appropriate to address anger and pain, and then to use them as a means of seemingly gaining power.

Many other options are possible. This is the kind of thing you learn about in therapy: the many ways you have available to respond to the same situation, and the fact that you have the power to choose.

To me, the involvement of Venus and Mars looks like more discussion of gender, a topic over which our society is obsessed. However, gender (largely a construction) is a derivative of sex, which is biological. Gender might seem like the meaning we give to sex, though we might consider what would happen if we proceeded from the other direction.

Here are the two aspect patterns, again, approximately synchronous with the New Moon a week from now. You may see the themes percolate to awareness well in advance of this, which is why I’m describing them.

Venus in Sagittarius forms a conjunction to a distant point called Ixion, and then a square to Chiron in Pisces. Here, we have a picture of how people with prior injuries tend to get caught in cruelty similar to what they experienced in the past. This is sometimes described as the pain body, which is what happens when someone forms an identity around this kind of repeated experience.

Additionally, this is a warning against the view, “I am in pain, so I can do anything to you.” Ixion also advises that if you get a second chance, you use it well. I cover this tonight on Planet Waves FM, by the way, in considerably more detail than I am here.

At the same time, Mars in Aries makes a square to Pluto and a conjunction to Eris. This is a picture of how we respond to anger and to feelings of revenge. The world has an anger management problem right now. There is also something going on where certain individuals are granting themselves permission to be angry and at the same time denying others permission to be angry. This boils down to “my anger is right and your anger is wrong.”

Simplified chart for Mars square Pluto. There are several other squares going on at the same time here, including Venus square Chiron, and Jupiter square Neptune. At the time of this aspect, the Moon is jumping into the mix, and will make a series of squares from Capricorn to Aries.

Essentially, this is a psychological and emotional position that makes empathy impossible. Why would anyone want to do that? Empathy emphasizes equality. There is no exercise of power. Where there is power and no empathy, the result is the impulse to dominate — along with the justification that such is OK.

Under both of these aspect patterns, that needs to be checked for carefully. Life is not a question of power. It’s a question of whether we help one another.

That may seem impossible if someone is in a hurtful situation. In that case, the question would be what that person is doing about it. At that point, blame can be set aside and responsibility for one’s own choices and actions embraced.

One other thought. When it comes to matters of sex and gender, and relationship experiences, most people think their opinions and perceptions are right.

However, a necessary prerequisite for working with this astrology successfully is challenging your own assumptions. This is not so easy; it requires establishing a balanced viewpoint and also figuring out how to look into the blind spots in your mind.

At our current time in history, it would seem our society and much of the world are in a crisis associated with sex, gender, sexual identity and gender identity. Some people are having fun with this, but for most, it’s difficult — we have no reference points for sex roles, for appropriateness, or for tradition we can depend on. We are also under assault by hormone-disrupting chemicals, which is left out of the conversation over and over again.

There is quite a bit of tension to address, and we need to act on it. That is the nature of a square. But if we’re not humane and compassionate in the process — toward ourselves and others — we are accomplishing nothing.

The Sun and rising sign interpretations below describe this astrology.

With love,

My Photo Adventure at the Ashokan Reservoir

by Eric Francis

Sunday, I was taking photos of the Esopus Creek Dam on the Ashokan Reservoir, my latest photo model. I was there with a friend; at the beginning of the dam there is a security booth and things like vehicle blockades, all installed post-9/11. The Ashokan is the largest reservoir in a vast system that feeds the City of New York water supply.

I looked up at the security cameras and said, “I want to know who is watching. I mean who, exactly?! What’s their name?” I was kidding; ranting a little. Does anyone even watch? But I did ask out loud, and I found out.

The photo I was going for — the frosting on the interior of the guard house at the Esopus Creek Dam. You can see the camera watching me on the upper left of the image.

On the way home, I was pulled over by NYC Department of Environmental Protection police, which has jurisdiction over the reservoir system in upstate. I’m rarely pulled over; but there I was. So I said, “How may I help you?” I was expecting to hear that I was doing 48 in a 40.

Nope…he said that I was seen on video taking photos of “vital infrastructure, not normal tourist photos” and he was told to go find me. He mentioned that I photographed the security booth, where nobody ever works.

“What were you doing?” But he’s being really tentative…touchy-feely…not wanting to seem like he’s too suspicious or anything. Doing his best to seem like a regular guy asking regular-guy kinds of questions.

Bundled up, I look like everybody else who lives up here, not like a Chinese spy. I drive the most normal-looking soccer-mom Subaru ever made.

I explained that I was taking photos of the frosting on the glass at the back of the booth, which turned into a kind of self-portrait. And I asked, “Would you like to see?” He said sure, and I showed him all the photos I took today, including the ones of the security booth. This was a voluntary act.

He okayed the photos, then he asked for my license because it was a “traffic stop.” For real? Seriously? I was busting on him a little. Well, OK, here’s my license. Have at it.

He comes back, hands me my license and thanks me. At that point I said, “So WHO was watching the monitor? Because I asked that out loud while I was roaming around over there, looking up at your cameras.”

“Well, it was Sgt. Paul.” So I had my answer. We had a good laugh, shook hands, and both went on our way. Another for my collection of entirely human encounters with cops.

Ashokan Reservoir seen from the Esopus Creek Dam, Jan. 26, 2019.

Monday Morning Horoscope #161 for Jan. 28, 2019 | By Eric Francis Coppolino

Aries (March 20-April 19) — You must guard against being too aggressive this week. That’s not an easy thing to measure; it would be fair to dial back your self-assertiveness to statements that include “please,” “thank you,” and “I have an idea.” Mars, your ruling planet, is now passing through the most sensitive corner of the sky — it’s about to make a square to Pluto (described by lots of astrology texts as ruthless) and a conjunction to Eris (subversive, unpredictable). From these basic descriptions you can see why I’m suggesting you ease off and let your mere existence do the talking. In any situation that provokes you, put yourself onto a 48-hour delay, and choose a suitable time and venue for a civilized discussion that strives to gather information first, before placing any blame. This combination of factors calls for anger management, but it also calls for healthy modes of self-expression. Squares want action. Vent your energy in ways that are fun, helpful, and not especially dangerous. Hence, if you go to the gym, don’t try to set any records.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Be a detective and keep a pulse on what’s motivating you. Don’t assume that the face value of any feeling is what you really have going on, or even how you really feel. You might ask others you trust what they think is influencing you, and take their feedback under advisement. Mars is passing through your 12th house. One of my readers recently got me on the phone and we had a chat about this zone, and she reminded me of an old (undated but sounds like the 70s) delineation: what you don’t know about yourself that everyone else knows. I love this because in reality, we don’t really have secrets (try as we may), and the 12th does describe a blind spot. Meanwhile, this can be a productive, interesting and even elevating week for you professionally, as Mercury meets the Sun in your 10th house of achievement. However, I think of the 10th more as the place of responsibility, so that would be a good place to start. Use your considerable talent as a communicator and you cannot go wrong, if you remember that all sides of the story count.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — This is a good week to influence hearts and minds, though it’ll work better if people come to you rather than you going to them. You’re under an interesting mix of aspects, which to one side indicate that people are drawn in your direction and are interested in what you have to say. In the other direction, there is potential for controversy, which you would be wise to sidestep, or gently brush off. Many people are set on hair-trigger at the moment, which means triggered by just about anything. If there is some portion of your life where you have public exposure, you will benefit from easing back on controversial topics and leaving those discussions to others. Direct your statements to basic human needs, and make sure that everyone in your circle of friends feels taken care of. But please avoid being a provocateur. Mars passing through the hot spot in the sky for the next week or so will have unpredictable results. Don’t let anything come to blows.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Persist gently with your professional plans, emphasizing responsibility above all else. Back off from ambition in any form, and strive to do a good job. If you’re “selling” or “marketing” yourself, the point to emphasize is that you have your priorities in order and that you can work well within an authority structure. Meanwhile, make sure that’s true. You cannot be over-careful this week and next when it comes to checking that your priorities are aligned with people who are making the decisions or holding the bag. If you are that person, make sure you seek the advice and counsel of those who are around you. Your chart is exceptionally well aspected this week when it comes to seeking the cooperation and collaboration of others, and also, offering help when and where you can. Again, though, this comes down to priorities. Make sure your basic needs are covered and that your resources are not too stretched in anyone direction; then there will be plenty to go around.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Get help where you need it. You’re not in this alone, whatever this might be. People care about you, they are aware of you, and will be open to assisting you. But don’t wait for anyone to offer; keep your plans open and available, and know what you can delegate, hand off, or collaborate on. It might be the dishes; it might be some heavy-duty project at work. Right now your best asset is your creativity, which means being a source of ideas. This will work best in a collaborative spirit. If you’re a fan of comedy, one of the reasons why really funny writing is that way is because people work on it together. The same holds for most music, and just about anything of a very high quality. Bring that method to everything you’re doing. Keep the discussion going. Immediately steal ideas better than your own. And follow what my godmother Aunt Josie would often say: many hands make light work (as long as someone intelligent is coordinating them). That would probably be you, unless there is someone better.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Over the next week or so, you may find yourself provoking others out of curiosity about yourself. There’s a theory of communications that this is a kind of bottom line — that all conflict is about self-discovery. If you know this, you can apply the theory consciously and gently, rather than going into automatic mode. Also, there is such a thing as “working it out in the bedroom,” which means exploring tensions on the sexual level, where this is appropriate and possible. In fact most tension between people has a sexual origin, be it attraction, competition or jealousy in some form or another. But “civilized” people tend to push this below the level of full awareness, and that is where trouble can brew. Then, what seem to be unconscious motives and tensions can sublimate into conflict. It does not help that we live in a time when expressing desire and attraction is being shamed out of existence, though in the end, this comes down to respect, and to what men and women work out between and among themselves.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Your sign is famous for its diplomatic skills, and from the look of your charts, that’s a good thing. You will need to put those skills to use over the next 10 days. Remember that diplomacy is not about rolling over and taking it, or swallowing your pride, or suppressing your needs. It’s the skill of working out communication under tense circumstances. The first thing you must establish in any situation is that everyone involved is a good-faith actor. This translates to making sure that there are no hidden agendas involved, which of course you will need to do tactfully and with some expertise. One strategy you may use is giving people lots of room to vent. It would seem that someone nearby has a lot of feelings they want to get off of their chest, and the best thing to do is to stand aside and allow them the space to do so. You will learn everything you need to know if you listen. You will get a sense of where this person is coming from, and their motives, and quite possibly how insecure they feel. Then, eventually, you can respond.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Now would be a good time for family- or household-related discussions that you want happen on civilized terms. You’re likely to be feeling grounded in yourself, and perhaps more willing to share your feelings than usual. The thing to beware of is confusing one issue for another, for example, work-related frustrations bubbling over into your personal environment. Therefore, figure out what’s really going on with you, what you need, and how you’re doing generally at expressing yourself. This really is the bottom line theme: you have a lot of energy you want to move, and you need to move it, not store it up for later. Think of all the ways you’ve wanted to express yourself. Drummer? Sculptor? Writer? Athlete? Orator? Something a little more ‘Scorpionic’? Name any and all that apply for you, and start doing at least two of them now — sooner, not later. You must make room for yourself and your desires in this world. When you do, you’ll find it rather easy to get along with the people in your life.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Amidst much other cosmic activity, Venus will be moving through the late degrees of your sign this week. It’s going to pass through some challenging emotional territory — in particular, a square between Chiron (in late Pisces) and Ixion (in late Sagittarius). For this astrology, you must position yourself in the way that you’re least likely to be hurt by others. This is not about being defensive, but rather aware: of the people you’re close to and their history; of how you know they treat you; of your own tendencies to be treated in certain ways. You’re at one of those points where you can get caught up in the past, or see the past for what it is, and do everything in your power to point yourself toward the future. Of all the people in the world, you’re the only one who you can count on to change and to grow. It’s not that nobody else does. Rather, it’s that you are the only person you can dependably influence (and that is challenging enough). Therefore, use what power you have.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Mars making a series of aspects this week will challenge your confidence, which has been under some stress lately. Yet sooner or later you must gain basic faith in yourself, faith that cannot be so easily shaken. You tend to undermine your own self-assurance on a fairly regular basis. My take is that this stems from seeking approval from others as a kind of habit, and staking your self-acceptance on how they respond. This is the most important trend that you can reverse, in service of your peace of mind and your happiness. This issue is secondary to the problem of using the approval of others as a substitute for your own self-affirmation. You might place a ban on asking advice, or discussing your seeming problems with others. Take your own counsel. Work out for yourself what is yours to work out. Nobody else will ever make you confident or grant you confidence or say that you’re worthy of it (or however you may phrase it). It’s long past time to fully establish this process for yourself, as you will see this week.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You know what you need to say, and you must say it in a way that comes across accurately. You may feel tempted to say too much, or to be overly assertive, when what you need is to be clear and precise. The power of your words alone will convey everything you need to say, and then you must trust that fact, even if you don’t get an immediate response. If you need something, ask for it directly, though make sure you differentiate needing from wanting. Take a self-contained approach, though also take steps to ensure that you’re in harmony with any larger purpose that involves other people or some collective mission. You have your role; everyone else has theirs; you are likely to be in a position to serve as a facilitator of communication. The precursor to this is knowing your stuff: having all the data you need, knowing who is coming from where, having a sense of who possesses what kind of intelligence, and then knowing when (and how) to act.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You will be able to make certain financial moves this week, though make sure you’ve thought them through carefully, and that you not act based on impulse. You must employ a combination of thoughtful strategy and intuition.  On some level, this must involve a public relations method, appropriate to your situation and your concept of the public. That said, you have considerable power to take action related to improving your financial situation, a project that you’re likely to have been working on all year. Keep doing what you’ve discovered works, and then try an experiment or two in a similar vein. The most important thing you can do, though, is whatever you can to feel good. Get enough rest, eat some of your favorite food, and avoid scarcity consciousness by granting yourself a few extra privileges. And most of all, connect what you do to the value that it provides to others. This is a basic, demonstrable fact of existence; connect the dots.

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