Threefold Goddess in a Field of Grain
Dear Friend and Reader:
Virgo is the mutable earth sign (the only one). Mutability is a form of changeability; earth is a form of stability. We have some tension manifesting through that contrast.
Of course, the Earth is in a constant state of flux and change, especially in our era of Earth changes. We live with that tension, as we expect the climate and geography to be reasonably stable, though so often in our moment of history it’s anything but.
Virgo is the third sign of the summer up here in our part of the world; as a mutable sign, it’s the disseminating phase of the season. (Note that all the seasons end with a mutable sign — Gemini ends Northern Hemisphere spring, Virgo ends summer, Sagittarius ends autumn and Pisces ends winter.) That is part of what makes the sign mutable: it arrives in a moment of transition. Mutable signs can also express themselves as a cardinal sign or as a fixed sign — another example of their changeability.
Associated with Mercury, in the traditional ruling planet we get another image of changeability. Mercury changes directions six times a year, more than any other planet (three stations retrograde, and three stations direct). Its speed is varying constantly, and it accelerates and decelerates (in and out of its stations retrograde and direct) more quickly than any other planet.
If you look up Virgo in a dependable old text, you’ll find that it’s associated with dairy production, cornfields, granaries, malt-houses, or places where barley, wheat, peas, cheese and butter are stored. In other words, going back to the significant agricultural roots of astrology, Virgo is the sign that’s about having enough to eat. Not surprisingly, given the time of year that it occurs in the Northern Hemisphere (where our astrology was developed), Virgo is the sign of the harvest.
Virgo is also associated with libraries and studies — revealing of the scholarly traits that modern astrology books associate with this sign. Fred Gettings, in his excellent astrology dictionary, describes Virgo as a sign “deeply committed to the intellectual process.”
Those of us who know and love Virgos are familiar with intelligent, clever, somewhat nervous people who can never seem to do enough. And it’s difficult to figure out where you stand with them, since like the motion of their ruling planet Mercury, every day is a little different.
You can think of this as Virgo in its outer form — how it expresses itself in ways that we can observe with the senses and eat for breakfast. Then there are the deeper layers. We can find something about this in a 1951 text called Esoteric Astrology by Alice A. Bailey.
“The sign Virgo is one of the most significant in the zodiac,” Bailey writes in her introduction to this sign, “for its symbology concerns the whole goal of the evolutionary process, which is to shield, nurture and finally reveal the hidden spiritual reality. This every form veils, but the human form is equipped and fitted to manifest it in a manner different to any other expression of divinity and so make tangible and objective that for which the whole creative process was intended.”
She describes this process as being conveyed in three female figures from mythology: Eve, Isis and Mary. Each of these goddesses conceals and gestates the inner spiritual quality of humanity until it’s born in human form as Jesus, the Christ. I don’t think she means this literally as much as she is presenting a metaphor of spiritual development, and a model of the feminine being what gestates a deeper quality in humanity.
Eve “took the apple of knowledge from the serpent of matter and started the long human undertaking of experiment, experience and expression” of our journey on and with our planet. Isis “stands for this same expression down onto the emotional or astral plane.” Mary “carries the process down to the plane or place of incarnation, the physical plane, and therefore gives birth to the Christ child.”
Many things are going on here, in the midst of the anachronism of these three figures; one of them is that Bailey is describing Virgo as an expression of the threefold goddess, which takes many other forms. Another is that she is describing Virgo as a sign that, through a series of steps, brings humanity closer to its essential spiritual nature — the one we know exists at least in theory and more probably as a spark of light within us — being born in real life, as a physical manifestation.
An idea becomes real; a potential manifests. The germ of life inside the seed of grain is protected, and when the conditions are right, it emerges and grows. That is the essence of Virgo, where we see so much in the way of intellectual expression yearning for a place to take form. To do this, it’s necessary to honor the life within what we’re doing, and the deeper life within ourselves. This takes patience and care. It requires living in service of that inner light, until it’s fully born.
Even in the most ordinary themes of Virgo we see these qualities expressed — for example, the undeniable emphasis on service that Virgo so often presents. When a person with strong Virgo in their chart is in conflict or crisis, it would be a good idea to check for the extent to which they are honoring and are in harmony with that inner life. Note: service does not necessarily mean being a nurse or a teacher. It means doing what one came here to do; it means following one’s true calling, which almost invariably serves humanity.
Notably, many people alive today have unusually powerful Virgo signatures in their charts — for example, everyone born between 1957 and 1972 has Pluto in Virgo (there will be some small exceptions on the far ends of that date range, when Pluto was transitioning between signs).
Through the core of that era Uranus was also in Virgo, as this sign was the scene of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of 1965-1966. That conjunction has a wide orb of influence, spanning at minimum from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. And we are experiencing a manifestation of that event today, as Uranus and Pluto are now making their famous square aspect — the defining aspect of our era.
One recent manifestation of the deeper nature of Virgo came with the discovery of Chiron in 1977. While Chiron is not the ‘ruling’ planet of Virgo, there are many associations between Chiron and Virgo, and Chiron does indeed seem to have transformed our notion and experience of Virgo.
Chiron is physically a massive comet. At 160 to 180 kilometers across, it is thousands of times the size of even the largest comets we can typically see — but too far away to resolve even for most telescopes. Chiron orbits our Sun in a 51-year egg-shaped path that crosses Saturn’s orbit and goes out nearly as far as Uranus.
The discovery of Chiron, and considerable early enthusiasm about it, raised much speculation about what sign this new planet might rule. This notion was based on an assumption that new planets rule anything at all. But by 1977, the modern planets (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto) were said to rule Aquarius, Pisces and Scorpio respectively. So when Chiron came along, astrologers were ensconced in the dubious habit of thinking that something new had to rule a sign.
While this issue is potentially debatable, Chiron certainly has a lot to say about Virgo and a close affinity for it. Chiron’s dedication to healing, service and perfecting the human experience is related to Virgo rather impeccably. Chiron always seems to be struggling to bring something from a ‘higher level’ into the physical plane.
Chiron will do whatever it needs to do, again and again, until it gets our attention. If you track your lifetime Chiron transits, you will see this in action. It is not easy integrating the energy of one level of experience into the other — anyone who has tried to bring loving vibes into their place of work might know what I’m talking about — but with persistence, it can be done. And Chiron is persistent if nothing else.
Chiron of Greek mythology was a surgeon and the primary teacher of Asclepius, the god of medicine. There is not a lot of room for error in these distinctly human fields of work. The roles of both teaching and nursing have long been associated with Virgo.
The mental obsession that Chiron can bring helps us see through Virgo in a way that’s helpful. As Barbara Hand Clow has pointed out, this obsessive quality is one of the most important links between Chiron and Virgo, something that tricksterish, often annoyingly neutral Mercury could not really explain fully. Chiron is no messenger, and he’s not neutral; he is someone with a mission, who speaks through action.
That mission has been likened to the Christ from the earliest days of astrologers interpreting Chiron, so we might speculate that Virgo has given birth to the Christ energy in the form of this new planet. Many of the early astrologers who considered the mythology of Chiron, which involves an immortal who experiences death and resurrection, have made this connection, particularly Zane Stein. But what exactly does this mean, in a world where the mythology of Jesus is twisted in ways that are used to preach intolerance, hatred and mass murder?
It means that a) we had better start thinking of Jesus a bit more compassionately (Christians: stick to the red letters), and b) that Chiron is going to push us to become whole, authentic people, whatever it takes.
Chiron is now in Pisces, the sign opposite Virgo. It is therefore influencing everyone with planets in any mutable sign.
But it’s especially significant for those with any strong Virgo signature — such as the Sun, Moon or ascendant, and anyone born during the Pluto in Virgo era. This is a second activation point of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction of the long and deeply influential era we call the Sixties.
Speaking of goddesses, Virgo, Chiron and Uranus-Pluto, Betty Dodson turns 84 on Saturday. Betty is the patron saint of sex education here at Planet Waves. The author of the first factual book about masturbation (with a focus on women), Betty has spent the past 40+ years working and playing as a sexual revolutionary. She was one of a very few people who were willing to break the silence on all matters of sexuality, not as an expert or scientist but in her role as human being — especially on gender-queer and masturbation issues.
I think of Betty as the ultimate incarnation of Virgo, from the level of personality (her immaculate home, her impeccable attention to detail especially in her art and writing, and her somewhat fussy personality) right out to how she expresses her deepest mission, as an incarnation of the healer-initiate.
When she entered mainstream public consciousness in 1973, she was willing to go where no outspoken person had gone before: advocating female masturbation. It’s easy for us to take this for granted now, when the topic is a favorite of popular sexual cinema (i.e., ‘porn’), a bona-fide fetish and something that nearly all women do. She offered the idea that they could love that fact, and express it openly with one another and in their intimate partnerships. Her publishing debut was an August 1973 article in Ms. magazine that her editors made her rewrite more than a dozen times over two years before they finally published it.
It wasn’t always that way. Indeed, when Betty published that article in Ms. and her subsequent (associated) pamphlet, Liberating Masturbation, the topic was verboten, even disgusting and disgraceful; it was easier to get information about ancient pagan rituals, the Illuminati and the secret ingredient in Coca-Cola. You could probably could have gotten a good few doctors to agree that having the mumps was healthier for you.
For any woman who today complains that any man in her life, or men in general, are into women’s masturbation, thank your lucky stars. You don’t want to go back to the old days, when it was a criminal act of moral turpitude, a disease, an embarrassment and a betrayal of relational fidelity. (Note, some people still feel this way; I encourage you to arise from your slumber and get with it.)
To the extent that people today think that female masturbation is a beautiful thing (or that it exists at all, and is a healthy, necessary expression of sexuality), we can personally and individually thank Betty Dodson. Trust me: this took guts, determination and intelligence. And she brought all her talent as a writer, artist and activist to the project. She took big chances and was made an outcast many times along the way.
To the best I’ve been able to research the topic, the assault on masturbation started with a 1612 book called Onania, and this work of demonic propaganda is not answered until Betty comes along and openly corrects the record and offers a new set of teachings. [You can read more about Onaniain this article.]
When you look up “sex-positive feminism” in Wikipedia, you find out that, “also known as pro-sex feminism, sex-radical feminism, or sexually liberal feminism, [it] is a movement that began in the early 1980s that centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women’s freedom.”
Betty was opening up the topic long before the 1980s. During second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, sex was not a welcome topic or point of serious consideration; feminism was generally an intellelctual political movement, and the main role of sex within politics is scandal.
It was rare at that time to associate masturbation with liberation or personal growth, but consider how logical it would have been: if feminism is about liberating women from the bonds of and dependency on men, a significant part of that dependency involves sex.
The fact that young women can have access to information about masturbation potentially saves them from all kinds of sexual mishaps early in their erotic maturity.
For all it attempted, pretended and succeeded to do, the sexual revolution overlooked masturbation — except for lil’ ol’ Betty Dodson, who had a marvelous way of keeping the message coming.
Today sex-positive feminism is an established movement (even if it’s something of a boutique item most places) and an essential part of what’s called third-wave feminism — the “not your mother’s variety” of feminism. To the extent that we can have a genius sex educator like Laci Green offer us the Freaky Labia video, we have Betty Dodson to thank for going there first. Most young sex educators have heard of Betty but don’t necessarily know the vacuum of ignorance that she was speaking into and how far we’ve come since she first did so.
Betty is also aware of how far we have to go — and how much backsliding into propagated ignorance and fear has happened under the American Taliban in recent years. We have yet to fully assess the damage caused by three decades of abstinence indoctrination, obsession with premature marriage and prosecuting minors for having sex with one another.
Betty’s chart is the essence of Virgo: with Virgo Sun and Neptune in the ascendant, and Chiron on the North Node, she is born of pure determination and devotion to her mission. It’s not easy to be a sex education pioneer in a society that is devoted to guilt, shame and exploitation — and it’s taken the kind of spiritual strength indicated by this placement to help her get there.
Sun-Neptune rising gives her the chart signature of a documentary filmmaker; she has made many such films. Even though most of her other films feature many scenes of individual and group female masturbation, my favorite work by Dodson is called “Her Life of Sex and Art,” which is now available free on YouTube.
One thing that jumps out of Betty’s chart is that she was born during the Uranus-Pluto square of the early 1930s. She was born in 1929 but that was well within range of the square — she has Uranus in Aries and Pluto in Cancer. We are now experiencing a Uranus-Pluto square once again, only this time Uranus is in Aries and Pluto is in Capricorn. Uranus and Pluto together bring out revolutionary tendencies, and Betty surely qualifies.
In a similar light, she’s having her Uranus return — the planet with an 84-year orbit has returned to its natal position in her chart, having completed one full cycle in her lifetime of stirring the pot, speaking truth to power and inventing the notion of legitimate female orgasm.
There are many gems in her chart (most of them involving asteroids), but the crown jewel is Chiron conjunct the North Node in Taurus in the 9th house. This combines the physicality and self-focus of Taurus with the healing mission and pointed determination of Chiron, coupled with a global spiritual calling of the 9th house.
It is worth mentioning that she took aim at the religiously indoctrinated body shame that pervades all of modern Western culture to some degree or another (usually deeply) — an expression of Chiron in the religiously-oriented 9th house as well, with the added determination and momentum of the North Node — a deeply karmic mission.
One last thing. This week, Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley, came out as transgender. This goes out over the wire services, we look at the story and think: gee, that’s interesting. And some people think: that’s fantastic. Even the FOX News dwellers know that her decision to choose her gender is part of the fabric of life. Can you imagine this happening 10 years ago, much less 40 years ago?
Betty was one of the first people to openly advocate gender-queer, long before there was any culturally accepted notion of such a thing. Chelsea, if by some miracle you’re reading, Betty is proud of you and is grateful for what you’ve taught us and who you are.
So are all of us at Planet Waves.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for Sept. 2016, #1114 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — If you’ve been wanting for company, you won’t be for much longer. There is companionship in the stars, which means that you’ll have a variety of possibilities available. People have a way of aiming low in their relationship choices. We’ve all been there, and seen it more times than we can count. You have your options open, and I suggest you leave it that way for a while. You don’t have to commit to the first person who you think might be acceptable, and you don’t have to compromise. Stand in your truth, and see who responds to you as the person you really are. This will take some time. And in that time, you’re free to do what you want, with whom. See if you can stand back from the idea that you owe anyone your loyalty, fidelity or exclusivity for as long as you need to have some fun and to truly discover who the people around you are. Far from violating the rules of civil society, you might say you’re violating the rules of low self-esteem. Over the past year or so, you’ve emerged as someone original with a unique mission. There are people in the world who recognize you for these qualities. Those are the people you want in your life: those who are friendly, supportive, encouraging and genuinely loving. Settle for no less.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You’ve made an investment in the technical aspects of what you do the best. This has necessitated a long phase of using the ‘beginner’s mind’ technique, even though you’re not a beginner. Said another way, you’ve had to stretch your capacities, your skills and your knowledge. There have been some frustrating moments, perhaps, but along the way you knew you were doing the right thing, and you kept doing it. By all indications it looks like you’ve succeeded at attaining a new level of talent at something you’ve done reasonably well for quite a while. Now you begin a journeyman phase — that is, of being fully qualified to do the work that you do. Along this part of your trip, understate your abilities. Never claim mastery; rather, let others claim it for you. Make sure that your workshop is as beautiful as your work. You thrive on working in a pleasing, well-outfitted environment, one that reflects your personal style. Make an investment in yourself here. Keep doing what you do with style, passion and your impeccable sense of aesthetics and you’re headed for an unusual phase of professional accomplishment. Just remember that your true calling is some form of art, which in any event means doing whatever you do artfully and beautifully and letting this be the one relevant metric of success.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — The obsession with security that our society has developed during the past 15 years has a parallel on the human level: how is it possible to feel safe on our planet at this time? There are days when everything seems to be unraveling. We are constantly reminded of what’s supposed to threaten us, from mosquitoes to the nuclear arsenal. The spiritual approach is to declare yourself the safe place. You become your own sanctuary. Yet the private dimension is one of the most menacing for many people, where their own inner voices, such as the critic or the moralist, leave them the least room to be themselves, or to feel safe. However, inner poise is what you must cultivate, and you have many opportunities to do so. One thing your astrology indicates is an inner exploration of the sources of insecurity as they are rooted in your childhood experiences. You might avoid these memories and emotions as one way of dealing with them, though I suggest you address them directly. This is the simplest way to neutralize the power they seem to hold over you. When you hear an inner critic or authority speaking, ask yourself: whose voice is this? If you can get past this layer of turbulence, you will feel safer, and you will tap into a well of wisdom and knowledge from which you will surely benefit.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You certainly have plenty on your mind and your plate. That’s a beautiful thing — you’re involved with your own life. Yet at times you may feel a little overwhelmed, as if your life is living you. When that happens, slow down and make some decisions; rearrange your schedule; eliminate what’s not truly necessary and emphasize what is. Amidst the sheer volume of thought and activity, you may find it easy to focus on the single most significant thing you need to be doing, and there most certainly is one. Pay attention to what you’re called to do the first week of the month. If you need a clue, I can give it to you in one word: writing. But what exactly? The thing you’ve been wanting to do very nearly forever. What if you’re not a writer? There is some element of analysis and exposition, in written words, of the thing that you do the best. It might involve a business plan, a proposal, a grant, your CV or resume, or that important letter you need to write. This might involve an intimate aspect of your life, such as your journals (dust them off, in any case). There is a special role that both reading and writing have, which is the cultivation of inner, private space, and your sense of self. Ultimately, this is what you’re working toward.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — From the look of your solar chart, you’ve just experienced some kind of personal breakthrough that’s taken you closer to being an artist, a lover or a free spirit. You’ve worked hard for this; you’ve had to face many inner demons and insecurities, and the result has been a surge of creative and sexual energy. This has helped you overcome an inner block that’s been interfering with your fun and passion for a while. The thing to remember is that it’s possible to revert to old ways of being. It’s easy to get scared of being ‘too free’ or ‘too powerful’. In fact, freedom feels like a dangerous state to many people, which is why humans so often revert to some form of unfree. You have to decide what you want, and what you’re willing to do in order to have it. If you want to get into the flow of energy, ideas and pleasure — that is, vital force — I have a few suggestions from your astrology. One is to avoid moral judgments on pleasure of any kind. Another is to step back from people, whether friends, partners or colleagues, who express such judgments. Preserving and developing your newfound space to explore your potential will in part depend on cultivating relationships that support you rather than diminish you. Those relationships are available, though you must set the criteria.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — You’re beginning one of the most intriguing months in many seasons. A total solar eclipse in your sign, Mercury retrograde in your sign, and Jupiter leaving your sign, combine to create a unique set of circumstances. Let’s take them one at a time. The eclipse is like being reborn, with all the perils and potentials thereof. Said another way, you’re catching up with much growth and progress that you had either not noticed, or not added up on your karmic balance sheet. Update your files and proceed with full credit for all that you’ve learned. Mercury retrograde in your sign looks like what some call a searching and fearless moral inventory. Yet as a Virgo, you must remember that you tend to over-judge yourself, so I suggest you take this on the level of discovering all that is right and true and beautiful about yourself. Learn to see yourself and your life from a benevolent perspective. You have learned plenty the past year about how much you have to offer, and I suggest you make this knowledge a permanent feature in your psychological makeup. As for Jupiter leaving your sign, that means it enters Libra; and for you, that’s a comment on self-esteem. This is not something that’s given to you; rather, it’s something that you must claim for yourself, and the time is ripe.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — The big news, of course, is that Jupiter is entering your sign this month. For reference, the most recent time that happened was way back in late September 2004, which leads me to a question: are you still facing the same old fears, or have you found your confidence? I suggest you not make any assumptions; really consider this one. Fear and confidence work in a ratio. The more confidence you have, the less you are inclined to worry about things that might trouble other people. Another theme is generosity. I’ve noticed something grim in the 12 years since Jupiter was last in Libra, which is that being sincerely helpful has grown ever-less fashionable — or worse, it makes less and less sense to many people. The ethos of taking, of getting what you can, of taking advantage, seems to seep through a lot of rhetoric about integrity. You have something to gain by being generous, which is peace of mind. I would propose that you have a need to live knowing that you’re doing everything that you can do for everyone you can do it for. To do this, you must go beyond what you think your capacity is. You must stretch a little, and that is what Jupiter does. You will have many opportunities this year to set small things right — and some big ones, too.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Do you feel protected? It’s time to tune into that feeling. Your sign is more given to anxiety than the astrology books say, plenty of which is social anxiety about what you think other people think about you. If you knew the sheer volume of energy you’ve wasted on this topic, you would be amazed. No matter how grounded and secure you are in fact, you will scramble that feeling by projecting judgment onto others. Two bits of information might help. People think about you less than you think they do. They have a lot of other people on their mind. Second, it does not matter what most people think or feel, unless they have some direct power over you, or unless you specifically care about them. This will require some sorting out. Your astrology this month is a wild tour of your civic and social world. You will see and notice a lot; you’ve got the power of discernment when it comes to deciding who means what to you, and why. Yet you can afford to go light on your assessments, and you can afford to notice those with whom you share goodwill. Suspicion and judgment in any form will block your perception. There are some people who really have your back. They care about you just because they do. Notice who they are.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Whatever happened in late August was in some way life-altering; which is to say, it looks like you had a moment of clarity. An innovator of therapy named Fritz Perls once said that his definition of learning is discovering that something is possible. So I would ask: what did you discover is possible? Did you challenge yourself to do something that made you push your abilities or talents? That might even include challenging someone who had undue authority in your life. You might have challenged a belief that was holding you back; and if you have not quite squared up to that yet, there’s still time. You remain determined to live your life your way, beyond what’s typical even for you. Take this advantage while you have it. You can proceed with the confidence that your truth is your truth, and if you don’t live for that, you’re not really living. This will, of some necessity, involve conflict. This doesn’t need to be ‘jackets-off, outside’ type of conflict, but it might mean some abrasion. Little scrapes and skirmishes will help you get clear about who you are and what you want. And nearly everyone on the planet needs practice standing up for themselves. Before long you will be able to dial this back and be on friendly terms with the many people who see, and moreover feel, who you are.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You tend to split hairs over your beliefs, as if trying to determine which are more true than others. Here is the thing: Belief is just belief. The problem is that when something so frail is assigned authority, that thing can take authority over you. For example, you might have a belief about integrity, and that can take on the stature of a god in your mind, while doing little to influence you in a positive way. Your astrology for the next few weeks is challenging you to consider this issue. What do you believe and why do you believe it? When you encounter one of these thought forms, ask yourself this question, and listen for the answer you get. Then ask again and take it deeper. You might conclude that belief per se is meaningless. It would be a compliment to call it fiction, since fiction at least involves the conscious weaving of a reality for a specific purpose. Yet it works a little like that — the purpose often being convenience. Don’t be afraid to go out of your way to find out what’s actually true for you. That might include going somewhere to conduct a personal inquiry, in search of what is real. The decisions you make this month can influence not just your long-range view of your future, but also your actual destination. Keep your eyes open and shine your light into the dark.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — It looks as if you’re ready to go someplace exotic, or at least to travel further than you can drive. In any event, you need a change of scenery and a change of pace. This will help you see the greater possibilities that you contain. When you can feel your own potential, you have a much greater chance of making it real. And that is the very thing that is opening up for you now. If you tune in, you may feel the scale of your entire future. This might manifest as what in the Seth material is described as your ‘probable selves’. You have many; many people you can be, things you can do, and places you can go. Hold that potential open as you make some important decisions this month around your finances and your career. You are starting to see the futility of certain attachments that are not furthering your cause. Before long, you’re sure to notice a certain attractive power of one particular goal. It’s seemed like a nice idea; though, when Venus moves in your favor later this month, you’re likely to be drawn to this with passion and creative lust. You’re intelligent enough to work with a clear strategy, and clever enough to know that part of that strategy must include leaving certain things to what some call luck or fate. Keep your feet loose and your wheels turning around.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — This month ends a long cycle in your relationships and begins another. We might be talking about something that dates back eight to 10 years. That’s quite a while, especially with time speeding along in dog years. Plenty has happened to you; and as you take a step forward, it’s time for a review of what this past decade of relationships has been about. Consider the people, consider the patterns, and consider how your expectations have evolved over time. One hint I can offer you is that as time has gone on, you’ve made peace with what a quirky individual you are. You’ve figured out that your priorities are different, your values are different, and that your drive to be your individual self — almost at all costs — is genuinely unique. This discovery may have come gradually, or it may have come all at once (of course, after building up for a while). Now comes a kind of summation of all your progress and experience. If you feel like you’re heading into unknown and uncertain territory, you’re in the right place. Yet, despite some sense of intensity and living on the edge, you have every reason to be confident. I would sum it up simply in a few words: you’ve reached a stage of life where a real exchange is possible. That translates to: give consciously, and receive graciously.