Libra Birthdays for 2008-09: Messages from the Secret Chamber

Dear Friend and Reader:

TO UNDERSTAND the theme of your birthday astrology this year, we need to put the recent Mercury retrograde under the microscope. This event, which is not quite over yet, occurred in Libra during the Sun’s transit through Libra; it has your name all over it.

Photo by Danielle Voirin.

Retrogrades are a process of cultivating understanding, in particular of the past, and of deeply internal experiences that are difficult to express. Retrograde planets (whether of natal planets or transit planets) typically represent parts of ourselves that were either turned off in childhood, or buried between the layers of our psyche. When we have a retrograde transit, there can be many discoveries of hidden inner attributes and an unusual sense of waking up. In this case, the waking up is to your sense of presence in the world.

The recent Mercury retrograde in Libra has an added dimension for you. Mercury is the ruling planet of Virgo, which is your 12th solar house (the sign immediately before your own), which is like a hidden chamber in your chart. The 12th contains everything we can’t usually see, or don’t want to look at. That includes ancestral material, our deep and shadowy fears, our most unusual erotic needs and our relationship to death. You experience these things Virgo style: in detail.

When Mercury becomes active for you, it’s as if a messenger comes from that inner room and speaks another language, reminding you of so much you would rather forget. But those things are also compelling, indeed, we cannot live without them. We must remember, because they inform who we are. What you learn during Mercury moments can have that odd sense of being both familiar and unfamiliar at once: that is the unconscious becoming conscious.

There is something in here about how you process anger and desire in relationships. Nobody would call Libra an aggressive sign by nature, but we all have our wants and needs, and we can get testy if they are not met. Or at least the implication is that it would be healthy for you to stay in contact with your true feelings, rather than trying to paper them over with a pleasant color.

For reasons relating to a crucial Pluto transit that is about to begin, I suggest that you make an art or at least a good habit of tuning into what you think of as “unpleasant” or improper feelings, and also notice when you experience guilt as a result of feeling them. For example, many people cannot experience anger without also experiencing guilt. The reaction comes so fast it seems like a normal reflex; it is not — that is a conditioned response to something we perceive as authority. You do have needs, you would rather not have to push the world to get them met, and you can have your regrets when you go either way — allowing them to linger, or taking action that you somehow feel impinges on the space of others.

The world cannot have it both ways. You need to be ‘right’ one way or the other — for getting what you want, or for deciding that it’s not going to happen. Yet I wonder, what is the big deal? Why should you be the one who has to regret experiencing needs, when obviously so many other people get to have them?

This story is old. Old as in it comes through your lineage, and old as in it’s been lingering around your whole life. For example, many families transacted much of what it called love in a toxic form called guilt. We see this in the form of Capricorn on the 4th house cusp; and Capricorn is about to take an impressive, important transit — Pluto is entering that sign.

Photo by Danielle Voirin.

I will have more to say about this transit in the annual horoscope, but I will sum it up here. In order for you to be emotionally autonomous, that is, for your feelings to be experienced mostly on the basis of what you feel and not what others feel, there are some emotions that have to come out of their cage. Imagine your emotional world is like a very complicated basement, with little compartments and spaces between the walls. There’s a rumor that somewhere down there is an old kitchen that was sealed off.

You have a desire to use the space, and you start cleaning. You clean for a while, and you fill a dumpster — but you don’t get the sense that the space is really clear. Finally, you take a sledgehammer you found down there to one of the walls, and you break it down, and you’re suddenly in a “found space” that was sealed off by some grandparent a couple of generations ago. There’s nothing in that space, but it just feels good to have it open.

You try another space and this time, you find a lot of junk that someone sealed up in there: mostly stuff that nobody wants, but a few gems; a trunk full of old clothes, a photo album, a dresser with a yellowed mirror. You can’t believe that someone would just seal that stuff in there and walk away — but that’s precisely what happened. And you get to inherit it, and deal with it — and now you want to. You wonder how you lived all these years with the basement in such a strange condition.

So you call a contractor and you get the thing opened up; all the walls taken down. This oddly divided space, full of darkness and trapped old air, becomes one unified space. And that new space has something that the old one lacked — potential. The few windows shine some light that illuminates everything. And you start to think about what you want to do with this new resource that you didn’t even know you had.

Now imagine that the journey of Pluto through Capricorn will work in a similar way. Imagine that the accumulated garbage of many families related to your own is collected in your own psychic basement, and is dearly wanting to be hauled off, recycled, sold or burned.

One result you would not be expecting is that you will feel safer. Safer, as in more secure, like your psychic house is resting on its foundations more firmly. When those winter winds blow, you will feel how secure your house is, rather than wondering if something is going to blow away or if the roof will hold.

In the two transits I’ve mentioned, the relationship is between you and yourself; you and your own history. I will close with a comment on the nature of your personal relationships and how that is changing in correspondence to what you’re experiencing in your inner world.

‘You’, an installation by artist Urs Fischer, created at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise Gallery in Soho, Manhattan. Photo by Danielle Voirin.

A poet at a local reading once translated the word intimacy into into Рme Рsee. The idea conveyed by this lovely bit of intuition is that the more honest we are with ourselves, the more open we can be with others. This is easy to consider intellectually and more difficult to put into practice.

I can tell you that the clearer you are in your relationships with your parents, and the more honest you are about what you find in that basement, or with the fears that come out of your 12th house, the easier it will be to relate to others. There are patterns that have been irritating you, which may relate to various forms of classical codependency: situations that triangulate, or where victim/perpetrator terminology becomes appropriate, or where substances have an undue influence. This kind of stuff doesn’t clear up automatically, and it doesn’t usually clear up easily — but that’s because usually, we try to do the work “in relationships” and not on ourselves.

I think that most of the work we have in relationships involves making a series of decisions (mutual, if possible, though it is not always possible) about whether it’s the right relationship; whether you have something to offer one another. Whether something can be called love starts to be judged on trust and the quality of the exchange, rather than by the intensity of the drama or the supposed attraction.

I think that most of what needs to happen in our relationships involves raising our self-awareness, as individuals. And more than anything, it involves building self-esteem, so that our own insecurities don’t threaten the situation, and so that the insecurities of others don’t weigh you down, either. The truth is, you have the option whether you want to deal with the insecurities of other people. That’s one of the benefits of having a wide-open space in your basement, having the clutter of other people be somewhere other than your house, and living in a structure that sits firmly on its foundations.

When we’re honest with ourselves, we become more interesting people, but something else happens: in order to get along with someone, they need to be self-aware and honest as well, and usually this is judged by our own standards. That takes guts. Yet after a while, if you live uncompromisingly in your truth, you have no other option, and neither does anyone you call an intimate.

Happy birthday, Libra.

Yours & truly,
Eric Francis

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