Dear Friend and Reader:
There’s a question going around: how do we convey the social unrest in our nascent era of protest into a sustained movement? Both the United States and the world have a lot of problems that need addressing — and it would seem the powers that be are not so interested. It’s up to us. I want to take this up as a spiritual question: that is, as a question of the inner life.
When I was studying 20th-century women poets in graduate school at Rutgers, I was introduced to the idea from the Redstockings feminist collective that “the personal is political.” In the same class, I learned that poet and essayist Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) expanded this into the idea that there’s no private life that is not in some way dictated by the wider public life that surrounds us. For feminists and for all who are seeking liberation in some form, that relationship must be made obvious.
But how did this situation come to be? The seemingly different inner and outer lives (one’s personal reality, and world events, for example) have one thing in common, which is you. There’s no denying that you see the world you see because you exist. You think the thoughts you think because you are here now. You experience life because you are alive.
In this article, my intention is to offer you a few ideas, which I think of as tools, to help you get a grasp on your inner reality, such that you can navigate the current political environment — which is mostly a media environment. We live in an environment of ideas and images that move at the speed of light. Let’s use astrology for our first metaphor, and keep this idea in the background of everything that follows. Then I’ll move onto more familiar spiritual and psychological metaphors — and finally I’ll return to astrology, describing Venus retrograde, which begins on March 4.
Uranus Conjunct Eris in Aries
This aspect is a rarity, and what it represents is the backdrop of the times we’re in. Note that the third and last exact conjunction for this cluster happens on March 17. After that, the next one is in 2106, about 89 years from now.
When the slow-moving outer planets get together, big things happen. Society changes, there are revolutions and upheavals, and often the map and the economy are totally rearranged. Major outer-planet events happened in 1965-66, 1971-72, and 1989-1993 — any of which might ring a bell. Remember they last a while, setting off chains of events that feel like a point of no return.
As this happens, people’s self-concept changes with the times, and with history — and this in turn influences the flow of events. I don’t think any of this is caused by astrology; rather, astrology provides metaphors and timeframes where we can look for ourselves and for pictures of what we’re experiencing, and why.
Uranus conjunct Eris is a rare aspect: it can only happen once per century. Because Eris moves so slowly, and is spending more than 120 years in Aries, the prior conjunction (in 1927-28) happened in very early Aries; the current one is in late Aries. Notably, at the same time, Saturn was in Sagittarius, as it is today. This happened at the dawn of the broadcast era: the first commercial radio station was licensed, TV was in development and a crude version of the transistor (leading the way to the computer) was patented. Skip ahead one cycle and we are now inundated with this same technology, drowning in images and data.
Have you considered that the current personal and political crises are the result of being overwhelmed by ideas, words, pictures, opinions and advertising? Have you considered the impact, on you and on society, of nearly everything we do being run through some extrinsic technology?
When you try to imagine why someone would vote against their own interests, and why a teenage girl would slice her skin with a razorblade, consider that they are part of the same situation. This situation is what’s running in the background of everything that we currently witness, feel, think and experience.
I read the internet constantly, and I watch hours of cable news a day, and I rarely ever see this mentioned, much less discussed.
Prof. Eric McLuhan, the son of Marshall McLuhan, summed it up succinctly: “The body is everywhere assaulted by all of our new media, a state which has resulted in deep disorientation of intellect and destabilization of culture throughout the world. In the age of disembodied communication, the meaning and significance and experience of the body is utterly transformed and distorted.”
Obsession With Politics; How About Service?
At the moment, many people are obsessed with politics. Opinions are flying around, subscription rates to newspapers are increasing, and Facebook and Twitter are flooded in the latest news about that Huckster guy.
While this is happening, I have a question: what have you done today to help a neighbor, or your community? I know that talking seems like action, but posting to Facebook does not count as service. Opinions about fair and unfair, right and wrong, and what to do about “illegals” are entirely vapid without personal action to back them up. People are struggling, and it’s not with opinions.
If you can fix cars, have you helped anyone desperately in need of transportation get their vehicle on the road? If you can build websites, have you helped someone just getting started to get their work onto the internet? If you believe in helping animals, have you done anything to take care of an actual critter (donating to the ASPCA does not count, for this purpose). If you have extra food, have you helped a hungry person eat? If you have some knowledge or a skill, have you made it available lately to anyone free of charge? Are you looking for places where you can help, or do you look for how to avoid helping?
If you are concerned about how society is being run, you’re the one who needs to do some sustained work on a problem that your community is facing.
Once you start to ask yourself these questions, you might notice how self-serving all that we call politics is. It’s as stimulating and as spiritually empty as pornography. Since we get most of both in little videos on the internet, it’s arguable that they are the same thing, with the same impact.
If you think the world needs to be a better place, go get your tools and start building, fixing, helping or at least tidying things up.
Of Truth and Lies
Politics has long been the purview of lies and deception, but we’ve reached a new peak of that. The Huckster held a now-famous press conference on Feb. 16, wherein a reporter called him out on the lie that his Electoral College was the biggest since Reagan. In fact, the Huckster got fewer electoral votes than any president of any electoral cycle going back to Reagan: Bush 41, Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama all got more Electoral College votes.
The reporter persisted with his line of questioning. The Huckster would not relent. In the end, when the math failed, we were all supposed to agree that his victory was huge; he thinks so. He is still angry that Hillary Clinton got more actual votes. Clearly, this kind of lying is intended as a maddening distraction from many other problems that are going unaddressed and getting worse by the day.
Lately, it seems like many personal conversations between individuals have the tone of a reporter calling out a deceitful politician. Deceit is a form of posturing: taking a position and holding it until one crushes one’s opponent.
If lies make you angry, I suggest you respond by being a more truthful person. Sometimes it seems like all of society and all of social life are based on casual deception that ruins our faith in one another: making excuses, saying what you don’t mean, not meaning what you say, and so on.
Hold yourself to the standard of truth. If you try this and notice that you really can’t, see the web you’re caught in. A fellow named Adolf Hitler pointed out in his book that people believe the big lies of politics because they are constantly lying. This is one place where the personal-political connection is especially poignant.
Nobody who is a habitual liar has a right to call out a politician for lying. This is a genuine question of integrity. You cannot hold people to what you’re not willing to do; this is an energy equation and a moral one as well.
So You Want a Movement
One question going around is, how do we have a sustained political movement? I would ask: what would it take to move you?
We tend to think of large numbers of people when we think of a movement. Yet it’s really a bunch of individuals, and you are one of them. What would it take to move you, not just to action, but to change your mind, to open your heart, or to make some important personal decision and take action on it?
People who feel paralyzed are, in a sense, unmovable. Paralysis involves a numbing-out of feeling. The opposite of that would be tuning into your senses, and wiggling your fingers and your toes. Then you get up and walk. What would it take for you to actually feel the struggle of what is going on in society? What would it take to get you to respond?
One thing that seems to have had a jump-start is the women’s movement. We all have a right to be angry about the Huckster’s treatment of women, his bragging about sexual assault, how he talks about female people and what he’s teaching the young ones about right and wrong. The parallel question is, how do you treat women? Do you have any inherent bias, and can you talk about it?
Can you admit your struggle? If you’re a woman, I would ask: how do you treat men, as a matter of personal policy? Have you detected any sexism in yourself? Do you consider it OK because you’re ‘correct’ or because you think the patriarchy is a bad thing? Does that make men bad?
Your Inner Lover
Venus is about to be retrograde in Aries. This is an image of the inner lover. The concept of being one’s own lover, and one’s own friend and partner, is negated by the obsession that our society places on the ‘special relationship’.
The special relationship is based on the idea that someone else can complete you. Even if you were incomplete, nobody outside yourself would be able to make you whole. You have to do that for yourself. One of the main reasons that people find relationships so unfulfilling is that they are coming from a place of emptiness inside.
This emptiness leads people to do all kinds of insane, mean, desperate things, including resenting those who would help them. To some extent we all have a touch of this. Buddhism calls it the hungry ghost. Yet you’re not doomed to be a victim of this problem.
Venus retrograde is a reminder to take the concept of relationship into yourself. You must be the source of love that you want. You must be able to receive your own love, or you won’t be able to receive that of anyone else. How could you? And if you don’t genuinely love and respect yourself, how can you love and respect another person?
To not love oneself is to be divided against oneself. This makes a person vulnerable to attack. A society of people divided against themselves is easy to divide against one another. If we want to unite against darkness, greed, anger and misery, this is where we must begin. The work of politics and the quest for personal wholeness are the same thing.
Planet Waves Monthly Horoscope for March 2017, #1140 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Venus retrograde in your sign is encouraging you to see the world from another point of view, such as that of a relationship partner. How often do you have one of those revelations where you suddenly get that you really understand another person’s perspective, or feel the world the way they feel it? Rarely enough that it’s a special occasion when you do. It’s also a reminder that your actual primary relationship is within yourself. Love in any form is inherently introspective: it comes from inside you, and involves your feelings. If you’re not grounded within yourself, intimacy can feel dangerous; and in many ways it is. Venus retrograde is your encouragement to find your inner lover, or what you might call your best friend within. This is different from being narcissistic, self-important or egotistical, so different in fact that it’s the polar opposite. Coming from a self-loving place brings a subtle form of confidence. When you get there, a kind of neediness dissolves and gives way to authentic generosity. You recognize and hold gently the fact that everyone is an individual with their own needs, their own spiritual quest and their own healing process. If you want to cultivate deeper contact, listen to what people close to you have to say. At the moment, it’s more important that you understand them than that they understand you.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — It’s time to show others the real you. That means sharing your dreams, your desires, your feelings and your passion. We might pause and ask why you or anyone would hide these things. In the past there seemed to be good reasons: many people have a habit of talking others out of their dreams and desires, or using this knowledge against them. Yet you know there is only so long you can hide in your shell. There’s only so long you can put any energy at all into concealing your own beauty, or being afraid of yourself, or worrying about the judgments of others. These thoughts waste precious creative energy, and they don’t benefit you in any way. It would help if you accept that you’re more transparent to others than you think. It may be for this reason that you avoid being seen or recognized, though you might take the approach of assuming that everyone knows everything about you. There’s absolutely nothing to hide or to conceal. You can, therefore, give yourself much more room to say what you feel and to reveal your inner life. Yes, this seems radical; but does that make sense? It seems to make you vulnerable, but you might ask: vulnerable to what? There is only so far that self-protective efforts can actually protect you. Fear does not prevent danger; but thankfully awareness does.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — It’s necessary to take your relationships seriously, but what exactly does that mean? First, it means having the right people in your life, and making sure that people who don’t belong in your life are not there. Perhaps this sounds harsh, but Saturn in your opposite sign has been encouraging you to use your discernment for at least a year — and to act on what you observe. People who crowd your space, or who box you in to their idea of you, are not helpful. You need room to maneuver, and you need the freedom to make up your mind about who you are; this, your relationship partners must know and respect. Speaking affirmatively, the most significant qualification for anyone being in your life must be that you share similar spiritual goals. Now we’re getting deep: for that to happen, you need to have spiritual goals, as well as to understand them somewhat. Then you would need to select others who also have spiritual goals, and find a meeting space. All sex and intimacy lead to procreation, which means a lot more than making babies: there is an exchange, karma is created, and people become like one another. Therefore, choose carefully whom you relate to. Embrace people you respect and admire. This is a high standard, but no other will work for you.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You’re at a high point in your visibility as a professional and as a contributor to society. People see you, and they are following your example. Therefore, you must live impeccably, as if you’re being followed around by a television crew or as if your calls are being followed by a live audience. There is indeed such a thing as a reputation, and you’re at the point where you can make genuine progress on establishing yours. In this moment, it’s essential that you know your goals. Remember that a true career ambition is both about accomplishing something and becoming someone. So think in terms of both what you do and who you are growing into. Don’t be deceived by the seeming chaos of the world. You are perfectly suited to be the person who both benefits from, and offers something useful in, this wild moment of history. Many, many people are confused about who they are, though you cannot afford that luxury. You have an advantage because you’ve been experimenting longer, you’ve made mistakes you’ve learned from and, most meaningfully, you’re willing to try things you haven’t tried before. You therefore need to persist in your experiment when necessary, and know when to change your plans so you can adapt to your environment and your personal needs. That said, be as consistent as you can be, and write the words “follow through” on your bathroom mirror.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Belief has become the new standard of proof. This is causing chaos in the world, and it will cause chaos in your life: with one exception only. You must believe in yourself, and have faith in yourself. To an extent, this must transcend the known facts. You cannot base your idea of the future on what you’ve accomplished in the past, or where your results have fallen short of your goals. You simply must see beyond your history, while taking with you everything you’ve learned. Then, you can embrace your potential as if it’s real, and keep that thought at the front of your mind. There’s one more step to this process, however, and it’s especially meaningful today. To get anywhere, you need discipline. That means focused effort, sustained over time. You are in the process of manifesting something, of turning an idea into a physical reality. While creation is the whole purpose of the human experiment, it’s not usually so easy. Things go wrong, life is busy, and plans have a way of being set aside. It’s time to go past these common human foibles. The kind of sustained and applied focus that gets things done is the factor that you need to work with the most often and the most consciously. Apply yourself with devotion and without expectations, and then note the results that you get.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — To keep your life manageable, pay attention to finances, to sex and, in particular, to the place where the two meet. This may be the single most complicated place in all of Western society, and you have a lot going on there now. There seem to be a good few people involved, and it would make sense to either focus on the ones who really have some influence, or clear out as many as you can. You simply do not need so many people involved in your business. Simplifying your life would make an excellent start. There’s one necessity that stands tall among all other goals: it’s up to you to make sure that people pay you what they owe you. To do this, either make polite requests, try friendly persuasion, or use insistence. Whichever, you must persist and make sure that you’re given your due. The main factor determining whether this is successful is your own commitment. You seem to be heavily invested in someone else’s affairs, and you must show some spine and demonstrate your independence. Ultimately, if someone balks at their obligation, treat the commitment as being in default, and move on. Nobody owns you, or holds a lease on you; you are not a commodity; and your value is not assessable in dollars and cents. You are your own person, and ideally that’s where true respect begins.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Most relationships are an exercise in seeking oneself in others. As part of that, they can become a hall of mirrors, with people projecting on one another and only a vague sense of who is who, and whose feelings belong to whom. If this seemed to work in the past, it didn’t work very well. You’re now experiencing a rare astrological condition: Venus, the planet associated with your sign, is in your opposite sign Aries. It’s about to go retrograde (March 4 through April 15). This looks like an unusual encounter, experience or confrontation involving another person. Yet you are the main actor. This is an opportunity to learn something about yourself, and to get a rare perspective on who you are. The first thing you’ll need to do is call in the projections you’ve put onto anyone else who seems to be involved. For the true message to come through, you’ll need to see yourself for who you really are, see a partner for who they really are, and be able to discern the difference. This is where most people get lost in relationships most of the time. And if you focus this experience, and go through it with your full attention, you will learn something that prevents this confusion from happening again. Then your relationships will take a giant, welcome step from the imaginary to the real.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Be mindful of the work-relationship boundary. Most people feel it’s out of the question to work with a partner. I have a different theory, which is that all relationships need jobs. They need some creative purpose, whether it’s raising children, building houses, hosting parties, making movies or feathering the nest. And in parallel to this, all jobs come with relationships: whether as part of a command structure, or as colleagues, comrades, collaborators or lovers. Often there is overlap among these, and you’re the one who must be mindful of the commitments and the feelings involved. Americans and people in many other cultures spend so much time at work, it’s often the only place they can meet and get to know one another. And each and every one of those people, whether you like them or not, counts for a relationship. Each one deserves your attention, because some measure of your success depends on that partnership being sane and productive. The coming two months will present you with many experiences that shine a light on where love, work, creativity and collaboration intersect. If you notice that you have any especially beautiful or productive relationships, do your best to nourish them. Let everyone emphasize their strongest attributes. Offer your devotion with love, and receive the devotion of others with love. I would propose that where business and friendship are mixed, commitment to work is the first priority.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Walt Whitman, the father of American poetry, wrote, “There was never any more inception than there is now, / Nor any more youth or age than there is now.” Translation: we’re always at the beginning of our lives; we’re as young and as old today as we’ll ever be. In recent years, you’ve been feeling the passage of time. And more lately, you’re starting to feel the benefits of time and of experience, which is a sign of maturity. Something in your astrology is leading you to take a wider perspective, and to see yourself as part of a much larger context than you ever have. Your growth process has brought you close to the inner core of your spirituality, and this is providing you with information about how to use your time wisely. Your current solar chart describes the meeting of your inner child with your inner parent. It’s time to reconcile the two, and to emerge into your life as an independent and autonomous adult. You are done parenting yourself. You don’t need to parent anyone who is not actually your own child, and even that has its limits. This means guiding yourself based on your own values and principles. It means making decisions based on what you know matters to you, rather than the influence others try to have on you. Commitment begins with honoring your promises to yourself.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — How much time do you spend thinking about your family of origin? And what do you think about? Next, how much time do you spend on your self-development? And for the real question: can you share all facets of your personal growth with your family? Do they know the nuances or even the broad strokes of how you live and grow, of your spiritual, emotional, relational and sexual quest? Where do you hold back? And what if you were to share everything with them? Your response to this question will reveal much about your inner relationship. Those ‘withholds’ — the things you don’t want certain people to know — are part of an inner reality that you’re experiencing through other people. There is actually something to be said for having no secrets, particularly on those things that are absolutely central to your existence. You would not be concerned that anyone would think you’re weird or inappropriate if you did not have any reservations of your own. Where you have those reservations are likely to be places you’re holding back from yourself, or not fully comfortable with who you are. Whatever you may choose to share with others, recognize that full acceptance of yourself means having no secrets from others, nor veiling your motives, or your desires. This is not nearly as radical as it may seem.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Most humans resist learning as if their lives depended on doing so. You must embrace learning as if your life depends on doing so. This is because the opportunities you have in this very moment are unlike any other, by which I mean once-in-a-lifetime potential for gaining knowledge that feeds your spiritual development. As a prerequisite of this, you must cultivate your flexibility. Mostly I mean mental flexibility (though physical flexibility is equally important), and learning how to stretch your mind so that you can encompass new ideas. You might begin with how little you know, rather than the usual Aquarian approach of how much you know. When you acquire real knowledge, it changes you. You become a different person as you adapt to what you’ve learned, and change your life to accommodate what you previously did not know. This is no small feat, particularly for contemporary people, who already think they’re the smartest people who ever walked the planet. Bring your humility to this equation. Bring your willingness to be shown what is true. Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt therapy, once said that learning is the discovery that something is possible. If you take that as your guiding principle this month and this year, you will make many such discoveries: about yourself, about existence and about the place where the two meet.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Your sense of self-worth is the only thing you need to concern yourself with. That’s because it’s the one thing that determines how you experience life, and by which you set your expectations. It’s easy to slough this off onto others: that is, to decide that how others feel about you (or how you think they feel about you) sets the limits on your potential. And in this one place you must wage a revolution. That means taking possession of yourself, your capabilities, your talents and, most of all, your precious time. As you do this, you will begin to find your confidence like you never have before. Count yourself into any game you want to play. Push your limits, and bring the very best of your talents to all that you do. Self-esteem is not such a great mystery once you stop sending yourself the messages that support it. Taking leadership within your own life is the order of the day. You will know you’re doing this when you take control of your schedule and the flow of your energy. You will have confirmation when you’re no longer seeking the approval of people in positions of power or authority. There’s something about your charts that describes you as divinely guided. Trust the information you’re receiving, and make your decisions from that informed and aware place.