A New Constellation

Kenny McCormick and Tammy Warner star in South Park episode 1301, "The Ring."

Today is Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. As we’ve been mentioning, there seems to be something up on the theme of conjugal relationships and marriage. In astrology this is showing up as Saturn in Libra opposite Eris in Aries (about seeking our identity in relationships) and the Sun-Juno conjunction in Libra (another image of taking on marriage as a symbol of personal identity). This conjunction is happening at the end of Libra, trine Neptune in Aquarius — there seems to be something gently dissolving about this over-emphasis on relationship as a badge of identity. In honor of this astrology, Comedy Central ran “The Ring” episode of South Park Wednesday night — with the Jonas Brothers and purity rings.

It’s difficult to generalize about ‘the state of relationships’ in society except to say that people sleep with their BlackBerries and iPhones more often than with anyone else. We’ve gone from having virtual relationships to relationships with virtual devices. What’s happening to us?

The Sun-Juno conjunction offers a clue. Juno, being an asteroid, may be off the radar of most astrologers, but it covers the topic that astrologers are asked about more often than any other. It’s one of the most dependable symbols of marriage, marriage partners, and the various rules and regulations that attend conjugal relationships.

The Sun is the primary symbol of self, and of ego identity. This conjunction is happening in the end degrees of Libra, suggesting that a change is taking place. The change is a transformation in the space between self-concept and marriage concept; between identity as an individual and identity as a partner. As the Sun and Juno move from Libra to Scorpio, this transformation or inquiry will shift from an idea to an emotional experience.

This might provide the occasion — for example — to question what jealousy actually does for us; how it actually benefits us and our relationships.

As so often happens, there’s a third party in the relationship. It’s one of the slow-moving hypothetical planets — Apollon. It’s about expanding possibilities; it works as a multiplier. The concept of groups is inherent in this point. So the Sun and Juno are conjunct a point that’s about community. There is the suggestion that every person in a relationship, and every relationship, exists within a wider constellation.

While we use the word ‘monogamy’ a lot, we often forget that every relationship has relationships of its own — and that people are individuals no matter what we try to do about it. This other thing called ‘polyamory’ tends to acknowledge the community, but in theory that also admits the potential for having sex with other people. Don’t give polyamory too much credit for this idea — ‘sex with other people’, meaning people outside the relationship, existed long before anyone ever said polywhatever.

We like to pretend that relationships exist inside not just a bubble but a hermetically sealed container. Then comes infiltration. What exactly do you do about the guy you really like who asked you to go hiking, but you can’t because you have a boyfriend? How do you handle that really hot girl at work who you’ve been checking out for months, but now you can’t do anything about it because you have a girlfriend? And so on.

In fact, the container is not so sealed; at best, the container exists as an understanding, sometimes spoken, sometimes not. At worst, it exists as a charade. But people do exist, and the world around us does as well. What if we just accept this fact, and make peace with our attractions, and with those of the people we care about? For some it’s a big what if — it means completely rethinking who they are. It means casting off many generations of programming.

For others, it’s easier to be themselves no matter who else is around. And at the moment, something is moving that is opening up this whole subject. Something is changing — and it’s happening inside us as individuals first, and radiating into our relationship experiences. Of course, this is happening in the time of purity rings and purity balls and a purity movement in general. They still teach abstinence in a lot of public schools. But bigger things have changed.

Further reading from the subscriber series: Let’s Get Real: Saturn in Libra and The One and the Many.

Looking for insights on how this week’s astrology affects your personal Sun and rising signs? Try out Planet Waves Light, our streamlined horoscope service. For deeper cultural context and astrological investigation, the premium Planet Waves subscription includes the same horoscopes, plus extensively-researched articles on Fridays.

6 thoughts on “A New Constellation”

  1. Thanks to all for some incredibly insightful writing about relationships. Having been a basically satisfied solitary for most of my life albeit with many friends of varying degrees, I find the comments here to be illuminating.

    Perhaps if we do get to the point of better understanding the energy exchange between individuals (“relationship”) as well as recognizing the connection among all on the planet, solitary won’t be so…solitary.

    Thanks again to all at PW.

  2. “you know, just because someone’s married or partnered shouldn’t mean they can’t be close, or can’t be friends with someone else, but they don’t seem to be allowed to be, so”

    I see this in other people’s relationships a lot. My husband is rather emotionally ‘feminine” (he gets along with women better than men because he isn’t into the traditionally male things like sports or cars) and I am rather emotionally ‘masculine’ (I get along with men better because I think in linear and logical ways and don’t much like the traditionally feminine things like shopping). This means he has more female than male friends and I have more male than female friends. Neither of us is bothered by this. We are monogamous in our marriage but if either of us were to want to change that, we have the option to openly discuss it with each other and work through it. Working through it includes the possibility of allowing another person into the relationship sexually. We don’t see this as an ‘open’ marriage where anything goes; we see it as being willing to allow one another the growth opportunities available.

    Having said that, I have to add that while both of us have stated our willingness to be open to the idea, our feelings are another matter and we are both aware of them in this area. For example, if I were to want someone else intimately, I fear causing DH emotional hurt, not so much by having that other person but because I fear my own attachment to them; what if they match me emotionally deeper than DH does? What do I do then? DH and I have children together; I cannot imagine him being thrust into a second-place position emotionally within me but that can happen and does at times when you add another person. How would this impact the children if that happened? Same goes for him; what if the person he added meant more to him than I did and how would that affect our relationship and our children?

    Those are legitimate fears and neither of us belittles them. We have been together and made a family together and care deeply for one another. We both are afraid to risk what we have so each of us restrains ourselves internally to some degree. I have noticed that neither of us allows relationships with anyone else to get to the level that would impact our central relationship.

    For myself, if I were to add anyone it would have to be someone DH felt comfortable with, I would want DH there when it happened (if he was ok with that), and I would make it very clear to the added person that they are the not the central relationship; DH and I are. DH has told me he feels the same way. I would also like to be there if DH added someone. Anyone added would have to know that DH and I are the primary relationship (partly because we have children together and also because we are really close) so they would be secondary.

    Some would argue that by doing that, we are limiting ourselves and the free expression of our need for another person but both of us feel very strongly about not adding someone else to what we already have because we treasure what we have and don’t want to disturb it. We also don’t feel we ‘need’ anyone else; want maybe but not need. There’s a huge difference between a want and a need and differentiating that is something we have been able to do. So until that changes, we have not added anyone to our central relationship. We do have friends of the opposite sex and will continue to do so.

  3. Married 40 years – Spouse has to be your best friend ever, and later in life, he is your family. We are not the same people we were 40 years ago; heck, we weren’t even the same people 6 months after we got married. I noticed roles changing more as pluto and saturn changed over the years. But he’s a sagitarrius and my Juno is conjunct – so I think we were just a good emotional match. He always wanted to do sporty things, and did them with people who enjoyed doing those things. So we’ve respected each other’s space all these years, meeting at the dinner table, the diaper table, and the medical table, in shared joys and sorrows, while respecting each others’ talents and loves.

  4. I’ve been enjoying the discussion, especially the question raised, “what do you do when [someone hot] asks you out but you can’t because you already have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” That’s a great question, and it’s been problematic in my life – not from my end, because I’m beginning to understand that my “self-identity” doesn’t actually come from the “conjugal” relationship – it never has for some reason. Motherhood, yes, and my work, but never the sort of relationship you mention – never, not once.

    So where’s the problem? Others – they seem so locked into a relationship that they (and their partners/spouses) are afraid to let themselves look beyond it. I don’t know, maybe I never get attached enough – maybe it’s the way I handle disappointment – who knows? I’m a big fan of the friendship – you know, just because someone’s married or partnered shouldn’t mean they can’t be close, or can’t be friends with someone else, but they don’t seem to be allowed to be, so of course, things go too far – the “secret” affair, the furtive exhchange when the spouse is out of the room.

    Personally, I’m uncomfortable with such set-ups – I like to live openly, and to share my friendships – it’s nice if my friends can be friends. But I do understand the difficulties of letting your spouse go there – after all, weren’t they supposed to be YOUR best friend?

    It’s a tough question, but my conclusion is that these things can only be negotiated – they go back and forth, and hopefully you find a happy medium.

    But surely we can have more than one “best friend”?

  5. It may be time to raise questions from an alternative vantage point:

    (1) Relationship, as a modern construct (I choose the Industrial Revolution because it seeded the modern metropolis), carries many hallmarks of obsession. If you would like straightforward evidence of this then watch the 2004 film Closer (Jude Law, Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen) and observe your own responses to it. Since the mid-19th Century humans (in the developed world) have been thrust together like never before. In more Agrarian configurations there was a much greater (and more natural) emphasis upon connection – to everything and everyone, notwithstanding one’s 1-1 (or 1-6 man-woman) primacy arrangements. Kinship was a different beast on a different scale – and yet, much more grounded in localities. One could claim that the connection landscape has been impoverished in myriad ways and reduced to the notion of ‘relationship’.

    If we can evolve from compassion to compersion how might we shift ‘relationship’ forward?

    (2) Each person who expresses a view has a unique personal history as well as experience of both the socio-cultural construct of ‘relationship’ (far less so with connection) and specific configurations/expressions of said construct. These have a huge bearing on one’s model-formation.

    In fact, as I shared with a friend earlier this morning, most folk don’t choose an alternative approach to ‘relationships’ because they are necessarily committed to some different ideal re a sexual ethic but because the traditional model has failed them in some significant way. Making the distinction is eye opening (we forget!). I’d add that not just a traditional model may have fallen woefully short, but possibly its close, generic bedfellow of fitting into ‘normal’ societal patterns.

    The reality is that sexual choices often/usually reflect the social, psychological or supply imperative(s) and not some *enlightened* choosing. We carry these personal traces all the while that we debate on a conceptual level – which is a distorting influence.

    ‘What is not working socially and culturally?’ is not quite the same question as ‘What has not worked for me historically?’ (Although they are, of course, related).

    If people are going to be empowered to work through their personal areas of guilt, shame and other shadow, they will need to address the issue at the appropriate level. For me, my two part response gives a clue in how not to conflate separate but related issues.

    On the broader level I think we need to torpedo the whole notion of relationships – the very word is corrupted, possibly beyond short-term repair. We need to replace it with some broader (holistic) notion of connection, neologism in tow or not.

    Subsequently, once thoroughly re-framed in our world view, we can begin to see all connections as a spectrum phenomenon. We can begin to access our own genuine needs for connection – whether with soil, trees, insects, rocks, larger critters and/or humans. We can then begin to feel our way into the nature of those connections rather than asking the false question (based on current models of relationship) ‘sexual or non-sexual?’.

    We cannot know the answers on a simply conceptual level because the very understanding of what connection is for us in practice, is not present in one dimension. We need to learn it.

    Let’s not forget that mono/poly can both be driven from a similar place emotionally, but decided because of personal history. Many of the pre-Industrial traditions were liable to see the economic, social and familial (basically structural or Saturnian) benefits above any notion of interpersonal/psychological happiness quotient as the basis for solid, sexually-grounded arrangements.

    Maybe what works is precisely that (what works) – and not some mass aggregate of highly individualised, fantasy notions of happiness, connoted to a contemporary myth of relationship that is still very juvenile….. a myth, sung as a song of freedom that would make any tyrant proud..

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