Full Moon square Nessus: step out as yourself

Icha, on the move doing a practice search and rescue run, finds me hiding behind a tree on the Grandmother Land. She is a Pisces; our birthdays are a day apart. Photo by Eric.

Today is Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. We’re a day away from the Full Moon. This one spans the bridge between Taurus, the sensual, earthy sign ruled by Venus (goddess of love), and Scorpio, the sign of deep, emotional, soul-level transformation, traditionally ruled by Mars (god of drive and desire). In short, a lunation involving the female and male archetypes like this is about sex. This one has some complexity to it, however: the Full Moon is square Nessus in Aquarius. Nessus has a theme of abuse; Aquarius relates to group dynamics. And guess what? We now have two big sex scandals dominating the news. Gee whiz.

One of these scandals has been growing for the last couple weeks: the revelations that former employees of presidential candidate Herman Cain had brought charges of sexual harassment against him in the past. Until yesterday, none of the accusers had spoken publicly, in part due to agreements they made when their cases were settled. Yesterday, however, the latest woman (the fourth) held a press conference to describe what had happened to her, stating in part,

I’m coming forward to give a face and a voice to those women who cannot, or for whatever reason do not wish to, come forward, and on behalf of all women who are sexually harassed in the workplace but do not come out of fear of retaliation or in public humiliation. I really didn’t want to be here today and wouldn’t have been here if it had not been for the three other women who have alleged sexual harassment against Mr. Cain.

The other sex scandal to break in the last few days surrounds Jerry Sandusky, 67 — a former assistant coach who worked with the Penn State college program for more than 30 years before he retired in 1999. Sandusky has been charged with multiple felonies in the alleged sexual abuse of eight boys during a 15-year period. These were boys he was mentoring through a non-profit community youth football program.

According to a grand jury report, Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno was informed by a grad assistant back in 2002 that he had seen former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky naked and forcing a boy who appeared to be about 10-years-old to have anal sex in the showers of the school’s sports complex. Paterno reportedly told his boss, Athletic Director Tim Curley, but it’s unclear whether the coach did anything further to follow up on the shocking report. And no one, Paterno or his superiors, reported this alleged incident to the authorities.

Notably, what links these two stories (besides an abusive or coercive sexual dynamic) are the cover-ups involved. That’s where we get the group dynamic of Aquarius interwoven with the abuse themes of Nessus. But why have these cover-ups been so successful until just now? One word: shame. Women still largely feel ashamed when they are the victims of sexual abuse or assault; society has done well at convincing victims they are to blame. This may go exponentially for children – it’s little surprise none of the boys allegedly molested or raped by Sandusky came forward at the time.

What about the college administrators and the head coach? Were they ashamed that they had not known about the abuse at the time? Did they figure it was none of their business in 2002, since Sandusky was no longer a coach at Penn State? Did simply moving the youth program to a satellite campus let them wash their hands of it? Whatever the reasons, it all smacks of denial – a calling card of Neptune, which also happens to be in Aquarius and is stationing direct as you read this.

There are many angles of these stories (and those similar that have not made the nightly news) we could dive into. But let’s circle back to the opening thoughts on tomorrow’s Taurus Full Moon in Scorpio: Venus and Mars, love and libido, sensory pleasure and emotional transformation. What happened to them? Oh yeah – our culture has done very well at repressing much that is healthy and holistic about sexual sharing.

Repression is another group dynamic, and the one that allows a scandal to be a scandal. For sure, abuse of power is a crime. But not all crimes are scandals. Western culture has a very strong perspective that sex is shameful; the media helps to perpetuate the idea that sex is often a crime. When was the last time you saw a mainstream media story about the wonderful masturbation workshops Betty Dodson ran for decades? Or a positive story about massage therapists who give ‘happy endings’? Or – heavens! – a clip on 60 Minutes following a teenage couple navigating their contraception options and exploring first sex?

Right. So the question is: When faced with rampant sexual scandal and repression and shame and denial and a dearth of positive, inclusive sexual models in the media, what then?

The alternative is to refuse to buy into the shame dynamic. And that’s not really something you can dictate to others; you have to live it for yourself. We each get an opportunity to shift the shame dynamic by coming out of the closet, whatever that means for you. It’s about living your sexuality openly. You can start small: talking with your friends or your family; attaching your real name to your comments on sexuality websites. It can be as simple as not hiding your dildo when your mom comes to visit or daring yourself to model nude at the local art college. Stepping out some way is the only thing that can shift the dynamic, and each person who does so makes it safer for the next one.

We’ve been feeding off the shadow side of Neptune, but its higher side offers us the chance to experience being in the world but not of it. Can you feel that? What it might be like to be fully in the world sexually, but not of the world’s shame and repression? The Full Moon is shining some light for you to step out into.

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20 thoughts on “Full Moon square Nessus: step out as yourself”

  1. I am really happy to hear that, Brendan. Thanks for clarifying. My soul can go into anguish sometimes. It gives me rest to know that he is ok. I got a txt from I don.t know who last night (really strange) with the entire att’y gen’l’s indictment of the Sandusky case (the link to the website .pdf file). I could read about a 10th of it. One of the janitors who observed and brought attention to one scene (and made no difference because his report was dismissed) had the most fitting reaction. And just his reaction itself was heart-breaking to read about. He had been traumatized just by what he had seen. I actually hold those who dismissed the reports to be the true perpetrators. Sandusky is obviously sick. There are actually cures for people who want to stop behaviors and cannot on their own. Who will cure those who just don’t care?

  2. B – R, I most likely wasn’t clear enough: his immediate family does support him, but the large, extended family is the problem here. Hopefully he’ll be okay: the counseling is not done at school but at a court-ordered psych provider (I don’t which: psychologist or psychiatrist).

    We have one behavioral counselor who drops by one day a week, and I think he might feel overwhelmed with this one case. Having a separate professional taking care of the student’s needs is much better for us – the school could not afford to provide it if we had been tasked with it. So, the state of Arizona picks up the tab, and undoubtedly one of the best things the entire state government has done all year. Have to be careful though: if the Republican dominated legislature finds out, they’ll probably cut the services… 🙁

  3. stormi- I really appreciate your concern and desire to reach out to her. I didn’t realize she was in her late teens. You probably are aware of The Courage to Heal by Bass and Davis. It’s a big book, but really an easy read. You can just pick it up and read a little here and there. But the reality is that until one is inwardly ready to deal, nothing will get in. Denial is a protective shock-absorber for some until they have the maturity to handle the pain of rage and terror. That you are interacting with her in a conscious, safe caring way will have an effect that , along with other similar encounters with others, will help her warm up to the dissolving of her protective barriers that is needed in order for her to trust her strength and the strength of the support of loving people around her that will enable her to clean out the basement and attic. A hard scary job.

    Brendan-after I read your post I remembered a study that came to my attention about abused children whose parents get involved and prosecute the abusers. According to the study, the children whose parents defended them, who did not push the abuse under the rug–those children did not grow up with “scars”! And one of those scars is to pass it on. To become an abuser and perpetrator oneself. That the boy spoke up for himself and is not getting support and validations is so damaging to him and potentially the community eventually if he carries wounds that are not healed. Shame be damned.

  4. thank you Brendan, same to you and yours. nope, never easy. and yep, many people have no idea the depth of roles we serve as educators. sadly, i agree, i think there have always been those children, we’re just seeing more and more now at younger ages. i tell future teachers to pay attention, we’re getting 5 and 6 year olds often having experienced more trauma than they might have in their 20-30-40+ years.

    and thank you BR for the book suggestion. this girl is 19, and reads about a 7th grade level. i had looked into children’s books, and found it interesting that almost all the titles specifically mention abuse (in some way) in their titles, which can be embarrassing to some, both in and outside the home. it’s a developmental reading class, and they often come in hating reading, my challenge is to get them to connect to something they’re interested in. in this situation, she may or may not be ready to go there.

  5. Yeshe-so happy for you to have had that experience of safety, respect and unconditional love. Good for you all. It can become addictive. :>)

  6. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have, indeed felt, for a short time, “What it might be like to be fully in the world sexually, but not of the world’s shame and repression”. I have felt it at a weekend BDSM conference, where all are allowed to get their kink on, as long as it is “safe, sane and consensual”. And it is one of the few places where I have felt truly SAFE among a group of other human beings (my safest place has always been out in the woods all alone). To be a woman and be able to walk around a fully packed club naked and not have to worry or fear that you will be harassed, groped, etc. is an amazing experience, where boundaries are honored with an inordinate amount of respect and judgement is left at the door. It creates a space where the Goddess can come out to be worshiped. The irony is, that from the outside looking in, it is dark and scary and terrifying to many. Yet inside, it is filled with lots of love and people who have looked at their shadows head-on, as opposed to acting them out unconsciously on innocent children, or wives, or animals.

  7. SN3: “This makes me wonder isn’t there a reason/purpose for taboo in groups/society?”

    Yep. I’m pretty sure this harks back to incest taboo, which is (so-far verifiably) universal in human social groups. Has to do with our polarized physiology and “facing” the future, rather than regressing toward the origin. Since we are all emerge from the vaginas of our mothers (well, someone’s vagina, or a vagina-like cut in the abdomen) it seems to me that all reproductive sexuality has a faint, nauseating resonance to that prohibition.

    That’s why tantra is such a big ticket item. It proposes to reconfigure the desiring body to the goal of spiritual freedom, a pretty daunting prospect in front of that massive pleasure/comfort/avoidance/shame tangle. Tantra starts with desire/anger and re-organizes those… sexuality, being a product of both (rage & longing) becomes a totally different experience.

    But this, she is not a cheap trick. Caveat amador…


  8. MaryMack – We’ve talked a little in class about what happened at Penn State as a news item and just what is going on there (in words and context these kids can understand). My student has been paying very close attention, but asking no questions nor making any statements/contributions. I actually vented a little bit about how criminal it all was to do nothing as PSU did, and the guys were very quiet and thoughtful, perhaps thinking of personal experiences. Normal behavior is a little loud and highly interactive, so this moment was a surprise.

    I have only male students, from 13 to 18, and they are all classified as special ed, although they are higher functioning. So, I let it hang out a bit. One thing today’s kids hate are phoney adults: they can spot them a mile away, and so I treat them as the young adults they are. Honesty remains the best policy.

    Stormi – My sympathies to you and your student. It never gets easy, does it? There are so many emotionally battered children today – and there probably always have been – that it boggles the mind. And non-educators wonder why it is so hard to teach…

  9. Amanda, thanks much. Blaming the victim is as lame as it gets, isn’t it? Given the family’s ethnic heritage (non-WASP), I think they felt that the family would take care of the matter, no need for the public or “the man” to know anything. Which kinda went out the window with the suicide, huh?

    He’s a good kid, and I’m so afraid of how this will mess him up forever.

    Carrie – I have no spouse to blame, only my own particular online adventures! 😉

  10. i have a similar (differently tragic) story about a student who recently shared that she’d been molested by her father over a period of time, and occasionally by an uncle. her older sister was also molested by the dad, and has dropped all contact with him. their brother never was but when he found out, he stopped contact and moved out of town. the student is the youngest, and still has contact with her dad, but doesn’t let him touch her now. he’s been in/out of jail for various other reasons, and when he’s out he’s around. it seems like she’s torn. she understands her siblings response, but still loves him because he’s the father. the immediate family knows, but she surprised herself by sharing with me one day, saying it was the first time she’d talked about it without crying. so i shared my own experience at a young age, which made her feel better about opening up more and talking about it. i’ve been trying to find her a book (it’s a reading class) that would be a reflection for her, but she’s a low level reader and sadly i haven’t found much.

  11. I was so harassed by my old boss that I left the firm and there have been many times since then that I’ve regretted not filing suit against the (deep pockets) firm or the controlling bastard. Rather I wrote a very long, detailed letter to his wife and moved across country. It wasn’t until Anita Hill that I found language and story to a very emotionally charged and frustrating time.

    So, I end up valuing these incidents, for the light it shines on the abuse and shame. I wish we here in PA weren’t as concerned about Joe Pa rather than the kids who’ve been abused, but I understand them not wanting to face all this crazy stuff. I just hope they’re getting what they need and Sandusky serves serious time behind bars and away from kids.

    There was a guy named Noonan here in PA who expained (with evident disgust) to the press how Sandusky and other preditors “groom” their victims and I thought that was helpful to highlight. I know for me, this old boss of mine would never have succeeded in harassing me had I been equiped with a measure of esteem that might refuse such treatment. Somebody, in my case, both parental units, taught me that I was unvalued and unworthy and my boss’s “grooming” of me uncovered my obvious vulnerabillilty.

    If nothing else, we continue to shine a light on the vermin.


  12. brendan — my sympathy and empathy to your student. to be blamed for the suicide of someone who had tormented you? simply b/c you decided to speak out for yourself? ugh. that is heavy — i wish him luck. and you.

  13. Brendan,

    I will. It is especially bad because it isn’t DH who is the one that talks openly about taboo sexual subjects; it is me, his wife. That’s bad too because :::gasp!::: women are not supposed to talk about that! :::snort:::

  14. One of my male students was molested over a period of time by an extended family member (also male). This summer that person blew their brains out when the relationship was discovered. My student has been trapped between his family and the rest of the family – who blame him for the suicide, as in he should not have revealed anything to anyone. He’s in counseling for a long time to come. It pains me to think of that when I see him, because it also means that I have to watch his behavior more than the others, see if he’s doing okay or is acting out any of his frustrations. It’s a small community of only a few hundred people, so pretty much everyone knows what happened, which makes it one of those whispered things behind his back. Ugly.

    Carrie – this is about the only blog where I use my real name, but I also only use my first name. Teachers can’t be too honest in public truthfully and not have potentially harsh consequences follow. Give DH my sympathies…

  15. I’m delighted to come across your blog — really good thinking/astrology.

    This post addresses an issue I’ve struggled with and thought about many times over the years — a bit of a different angle, though. The idea of love, sex, and enjoying physical pleasures as natural and okay, that one doesn’t have to be monogamous to be an okay human being, and one doesn’t have to be in a formally sanctioned marriage to be okay, either. This culture is so tied up in knots of guilt and shame over the sex act itself, that it seems to go to extremes of repression or exhibition rather than calm delight in a natural expression. I’m very aware of the use of a basic primal drive such as sex for a means to gain and maintain power for the prevailing religion/governing body in whatever society. If they can control that, they can control the population through guilt, shame and the terror of exposure/ humiliation/punishment.

    It is maintained by bred-in-the-blood taboos that are tantamount to suicide to try to buck. It takes many generations and concerted efforts to shift such a highly charged paradigm. I watch myself with my own family repressions at play when my mind says this is ridiculous to maintain, while my personal upbringing and emotional responses hold the line. A sad testament to the power of such paradigms.

  16. Repression is the construct, based on an agenda; liberation is one potential response.

    We’re also looking at individual response in the context of a group dynamic: “I’m supposed to be shocked by this because everyone else is.” Or, “I’m supposed to be ashamed of this because anyone would be.”

    It’s difficult to see a story about a guy molesting boys as repressive, but it gives all sex a bad name and feeds on the horrors of shame and guilt broadcast out to the population. The subtext is, “Don’t do what makes YOU feel good, no matter how harmless, because it you will be exposed and shamed.”

  17. Well, the repression of sex certainly creates great tangled morasses (no pun intended) from which we can struggle mightily. This makes me wonder isn’t there a reason/purpose for taboo in groups/society? How does that fit with the desire/demand for liberation ef?

  18. “attaching your real name to your comments on sexuality websites.”

    Did that here but not on my blog. My DH is a teacher, after all and this is a small town still. And he needs the job to support our family.

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