The persistence of peer pressure: Mars-Nessus in Aquarius

This week is building toward the Leo Full Moon, which is at 11:38 pm EST on Jan. 26. On the way to that lunation — which itself will be ramping up emotional intensity, like all Full Moons — we’ll also be feeling the build of another aspect that may be waking us up to some less savory (or downright mean) tendencies in groups. That would be the conjunction of Mars with Nessus in late Aquarius.

Simplified chart section showing Mars (red ‘male’ symbol) nearly conjunct Nessus (aqua glyph) in Aquarius. Mercury (green glyph) is sextile Uranus (blue ‘H’) in Aries, and trine Jupiter (orange ‘4’) in Gemini. The Sun (yellow circle) will make the same aspects as Mercury Thursday and Friday.

Mars conjunct Nessus is exact the same day as the Full Moon (just after 9 am EST) but like most Mars aspects, you’ll likely feel it intensifying through the week. Peer pressure is a very real force in our lives, long past our emergence from adolescence into adulthood. If you’re having trouble locating a recent example in your own life (it can be subtle, and insidious), consider the alleged coercion by Lance Armstrong to get his other Tour de France teammates to use illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

People do things they’d rather not do and go against their own instincts and values on regular basis. Why is that?

There is tremendous psychological power in groups, combined with perceived and sometimes real power to exact consequences. We give up our power to groups often, and it’s made easier when we don’t quite know what we want. But most of the time, deep down, we really do know what we want. So what gets in the way of doing something about it?

As mentioned, Mars-Nessus looks a lot like the common dynamic of a group of individuals abdicating their individuality to go along with something mean. It has a flip side, though. Mars here could also represent the potential for an individual to wake up and decide not to go along with it — whatever ‘it’ may be. One key phrase of Nessus is ‘the buck stops here’. That ‘buck’, however, is very often an old pattern of abuse asking to be healed.

The territory that Nessus represents tends to be unpleasant, and deeply so. As in, the kind of stuff you want a really good therapist for. Nessus is generally representative of family shadow material and old pain that has been passed along or perpetrated through the generations. Dealing with this material can bring up all kinds of questions about loyalty, guilt, shame and fear of being ostracized.

One of the reasons many people do not seek help with healing needs is out of a fear of embarrassing the family for what it did. There is loyalty that can even extend into not telling a therapist. Nessus in Aquarius can be that conspiracy of silence — and the diffusion of responsibility to the point where nobody is actually responsible.

It’s no wonder people often don’t want to wake up: the pain they know in its buried form may seem less frightening than the pain of the perceived betrayal of family that they face.

Luckily, as this background energy builds, Mercury in Aquarius is making a couple of helpful aspects today. Mercury sextile Uranus in Aries and Mercury trine Jupiter in Gemini are both about flow and ease — though the aspect to Uranus needs you to put a little elbow grease and intention into the equation.

The two aspects together are all about intelligence, originality, inventiveness, good judgment, good communication, keen observation powers, optimism, and individualism. This suggests that if we can keep our deeper baggage and emotional realms in clear contact with our mental processes, Mercury in Aquarius is detached enough and unencumbered enough that we might have a better chance of processing the more shadowy or painful material fairly rationally — or at least with an eye to real solutions and forward movement, rather than getting stuck in the past.

Aquarius is a fixed sign — perhaps one of the reasons why the less functional aspects of groups can get so entrenched, to the point of ceasing to be visible. But one of its rulers is Uranus, which is responsible for the forward-thinking ability of Aquarius to break up old forms (the other ruler, Saturn, crystallizes those new ideas). With Mercury talking to Uranus and Jupiter right now, you’re being given a mental leg-up in any desire to see your place in groups change for the better, and with a wider perspective.

3 thoughts on “The persistence of peer pressure: Mars-Nessus in Aquarius”

  1. That’s a lot of air and fire, whipping around. This kind of group-think is worrisome because it inevitably needs someone to sacrifice. Temporary insanity — hopefully temporary, anyhow — and only worthwhile if it shows us to ourselves.

    With Israel set to re-elect Netenyahu, and neocon factions in the Pentagon urging the White House to take more leadership in Mali, the “old” stuff is circling like a whirlwind.

    “… the pain they know in its buried form may seem less frightening than the pain of the perceived betrayal of family that they face.”

    Bingo! Ain’t it the truth. And often, it isn’t until the family itself begins to come apart (lose its authority) that people can begin to separate themselves out from the “tribe.” Family loyalty is the little tribe, patriotism is the big one — both require their pound of flesh.

  2. Your comments are very interesting in the light of the current inquest in Canada into the tragic death of Ashley Smith, a mentally ill teenager who was treated like a criminal and died in custody. Check out The issues of a group of peers (prison authorities and guards) doing something mean ring loud and clear here. Guards were told not to intervene when she attempted to choke herself as a means to “get attention”. She is getting lots of attention now. Too bad she is dead.

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