Breaking the Taboo on Desire

There exists a taboo on going for what you really want. Because we live in a society that’s all about ‘freedom of choice’ it’s not easy to see this, especially to someone who gets lost in the choice between Arby’s and Wendy’s, or between Cialis and Viagra.

There is a rumor that desire gets a person into trouble. This one has been viral in religious and spiritual philosophies going back millennia — whether it’s the Christians’ ban on sexual desire or the reportedly Buddhist idea that desire only forms attachments and therefore leads to misery.

The flaming arrow, Planet Waves symbol of Chiron.
The flaming arrow, Planet Waves symbol of Chiron, today lending itself to Mars in Sagittarius.

And it soaks into Western culture in the form of, ‘Don’t want what you really want; be a good boy/girl and want the shitty substitute we’re trying to sell you’. There is the notion that curiosity killed the cat. There is the ruse of not allowing oneself to want because if you want you might be tempted.

In astrology Mars is the planet of drive and desire, and it’s now in the sign of single-pointed focus — Sagittarius. As described Monday, Mars is going to be on quite an adventure, making 18 conjunctions and many other aspects during the next six or seven weeks. Each one of those aspects represents a twist on desire. Each comes with a different flavor, approach and result.

Some of these experiences could be used to demonstrate that desire is a bad thing. Yet in every situation there is another factor involved — that is how an aspect pattern works. In every situation, something will be influencing or modifying the nature of Mars, even as Mars wants to fly straight through the air to its destination.

The first of these influences is Heracles (what you might think of as wanting too much, or at the expense of all else), and the next is Tantalus (wanting what you cannot have, or think you cannot have — a dynamic where what you want eludes you, and desire gets the blame).

Then there is the extended square to Neptune, which is exact on Sept. 21; however, the orb of Neptune is so wide, it’s usually taken effect before anyone knows it’s an influence. Under the current influence of Neptune, I suggest you stick to what you’ve wanted for a while and not let any factor dissuade you from thinking that your desire is not valid. With Neptune you must remember how to swim rather than acting like you’re standing on solid ground.

I will offer again that in our society it’s OK to want, but there is a taboo on wanting what you really want — which is why there are so many distractions, and why they are so popular.

17 thoughts on “Breaking the Taboo on Desire”

  1. interesting Amanda that your Sagg moon sparkles -and gathers?- and otherwise behaves extravertedly to work a huge and integrated “whole party” field. interesting because with my moon in very early Capricorn I’ve wondered how much Sagg flavor it carries either due to that being its sign sidereally or the cusp. So, when i have a couple of drinks at first I’m more charming, clever, gracious and inclusive but then a total buzzkill – i think i notice the general relaxing of inhibition and panic and worry and all the thought patterns that go with it – and instead of relief I get upset with the lack of consistency and tell myself that life doesn’t really make sense, i get quiet and just try to tolerate till i can go home. Gee, fun, right? Paradoxically, while parties seem to make time fly while having fun for most I think they slow me. Which is a good thing. Without alcohol i can have more fun by my method of choosy osmosis, since my moon in cap doesn’t align all that well, and i know it!

    I wonder if it is a historical feeling of good sagg times in old (vedic?) india followed up by the burden of western philosophy. The myth of the Golden Age. the saturnalia is a sun in early Capricorn event but the moon in capricorn happens every month so not sure– I’d be interested in hearing (all) the other moons in Capricorn experience if for a moment they can manage it.

    The esoteric ruler of Sagittarius is Mars and Earth. That seems pretty grand- two sides of the same coin? And since we have just seen the earth as a place where war happens maybe we should be reading The Iliad and The Art of War to philosophically get a handle on ourselves.

    But- here’s a different view, perhaps. take away the violence from Mars and go linguistic with it as the implementation of the will to censor others. There are so many ways we do this and perhaps the thought is a Mars in Libra retrograde carryover from the spring. Here’s Sherman Alexie describing how it works. (I’m merely hoping the link works). I think he might also be describing Earth and which is good for a good Indian to do, but I think he’s got a lot of more general humanism to back him up. He’s thought it over for reals, man. Now I need to see Oliver Stone movies although I know I won’t get around to it.

  2. jere — you may have hit the nail on the head! 🙂

    in part, my question was spurred by a conversation i had with a young astrologer a few years ago at a conference. he said he found that people’s moon signs tended to come out under the influence of alcohol and asked if i agreed. i thought for a moment and realized that yes, my sagittarius moon’s strong desire to play the social butterfly and be *free* to talk to *everybody* (or at least to be free to speak to whomever i most feel like speaking to) definitely would come out to play much more strongly if i had a slight buzz on, as opposed to being completely sober. i still like to talk to people and have some freedom without the buzz, but it’s less pronounced, less “sparkly” feeling, less wide-open.

    now, it’s not just the result of altered states due to things like alcohol; i’ve since realized the same moon-sign tendency in any situation that calls to my inner child or, as when i’m dancing, can work me into an endorphin rush.

    that sagg moon definitely wants nothing less than everything. 😉

  3. Amanda Painter, as far as your inquiry of Sag./Jup. relation… I can perceive Sag. desiring one thing only: everything. (Aiming that shit is a whole different story, takes all the other energies). I think Jupiter’s hip to ‘reaching for the gold ring’ that Sag. desires so greatly.

    ..Any reconciliation there?


  4. Mars is transiting my fourth house at the moment. From my ascendant side he is in the 11th. Anyways he will be joining my mid heaven at 5* of Sagittarius. My birthday was yesterday. I turned 23. Mars square Neptune means delusion to me. Or creative adventures. If ever you want to try something artsy, that would be the time.
    On a positive news story, we may be launching people back into space again. Nasa awarded a contract with Boeing and SpaceX to taxi astronauts by 2017. Frankly, we should have had a little colony on the moon by now. Better now then never.
    Sigh, more war on the horizon. Looks like the young have been sold a peaceful sounding bag of bull. And it will be the young that will likely be the boots on the ground. My little brother is trying to get into the army. I hope and pray nothing further will happen that will require bullets and bombs. I will vote for anyone who will advocate for peace and tranquility for all. I will vote against the war hustlers that want to turn the planet into a Call of Duty installment.
    Is there anything in the coming, lets say, 5 years that indicates we as humans wake up to this dangerous foolishness and find peace? I truly hope happiness will be the mainstay of humanity, as it should be.

  5. Hugging Scorpio, that was cool. Well said. (I so want to add highlights and subtleties, but I’ll let your sound permeate for a few). 🙂

    Right on, and Thanks,


  6. Thanks hugging! . You’re doing such great work. Ain’t easy to keep opening that heart – and your words and quest always inspire me.

  7. Thanks Eric, and Lizzy.

    I admit there are a few different aspects to desire that Buddhism looks at, and I have been confused at times. I may have been a monk for 14 years but I’m no adept on the subject. I even challenge those multiple retreatants on their views of desire – this fiery aspect of energy in all its consuming liberating nature. It takes many years of honest work on ones self to begin to understand ones deeper motivation and to understand how ones beliefs have been constructed. At the beginning, it’s normal and healthy to want to sublimate the energy and work to formulate a foundation of awareness of many things including desire. Jumping into the whole tantra thing too early is a reckless and dangerous approach to working with desire. There needs to be emotional maturity, and that comes with meditation and the Heart Centre.

    The challenge comes at a point on ones path where this vital energy is awakened, and one must integrate in a gentle way the practice experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if this coincides with the Heart Chakra opening as this Kundalini energy rises and breaks through constructs in the lower chakras. This need to connect in a visceral and passionate way that is now felt through the heart.

    The meditation on the 5 Buddha families is also key in gaining awareness into the peace that exists between the so called positive and negative aspects of each centre. And when we look at the whole process, we find ourselves back at the Heart Centre, the meeting of the upward and downward triangles, the integration of energy – and this just happens to be the residing place of Vajrayogini, and a release point where desire is a major player in the energetic life of the individual and where its freedom is embraced and utilized in deep and profound ways. It’s a release point because of the psychological changes. It’s also often the point the individual leaves some structural aspect of their practice, leaves the guru, or leaves the institution.

    Part of working with desire, in my experience, is to question EVERY source of information, influence, and their agenda. This includes close friends, teachers, mentors, websites, blogs, etc. Grounding the energy of desire in one’s deep authentic feelings of what one truly wants takes time and gentle self love, and creating a private space in which to meditate and/or create. The more this happens, the more we accept desire as a resource to move into the direction we want, the more power and self empowerment becomes available to us, and the more the universe opens to our embracing of our potential.

  8. The planet and the sign are not necessarily a direct match on every level. Consider how Libra is connected to both Venus and Saturn. Signs are associated with many things not inherent in the classical ruling planet, for example Virgo as the sign of the goddess and Mercury (which is androgynous) as the ruing planet.

    Jupiter is the classical ruler of the sign Sagittarius — the most basic level of association. The single-pointed focus is illustrated in the bow and arrow glyph, and with Chiron (Centaurus) who stands at the gate of the galaxy, often depicted armed with his arrow and bow.

    Chiron has a strong association with Sagittarius, even if it’s not the “modern ruler.” The single focus concept is articulated by Alice Bailey in her sign description of Sagittarius, wherein she talks about the influence of the the centaur on this sign (from Atlanetan times), and the current symbol being the archer on a white horse.

    Bailey lists the Earth and Mars as the esoteric rulers of Sagittarius.

  9. eric — could you (or someone else) explain a little bit about how the “single-pointed focus” of Sagittarius gets reconciled with its ruler Jupiter, which seems to impart the more diffuse, wide-ranging, multi-focused nature i’ve witnessed in sagittarius in certain instances?


  10. Lizzy- thank you for so eloquently representing the Buddha Dharma. As Gautama once noted:

    “Things are not as they appear to be, nor are they otherwise.”

  11. Eric I wanted to chip in with ‘will’ – because you can desire one thing and actually will another? And how mixed up everything is.

    For example I once met a guy in a café who told me that he had woken that morning with the insistent feeling he was going to France. I was going to France at the end of the week and in the end he joined me. There was a whole story about collecting stuff at Sevenoaks and having to go back to change the car at Marble Arch because the car wasn’t big enough. it was raining etc etc.

    Bombing down the motorway the next day towards Geneva he said, ‘I thought I came on this trip for me but now I think it was for you.’

    Desire. Of course. Though sometimes other things take precedence? or turn into something else. If I loved someone and he doesn’t love me, I’m not going to insist finally, am I. Isn’t that the difference between desire and will, or perhaps I didn’t really desire him if not insistent.

    (I did hear a story of a woman with 4 kids, happily married, and a guy came up to her and said ‘You’re going to marry me.’ He was sure of it, she’d never met him before and laughed at him. But within a year she had left her family to be with him. Where is the line between one person’s needs and someone elses needs? What about the husband. What about the children. And only she can have navigated that.

    It doesn’t seem an either or to me.



  12. Hi Eric, buddhist belief doesn’t condemn desire – knowing full well that it is an intrinsic part of human nature. It just looks long and hard at it, about the fact that it’s not just about wanting something, it’s also about not wanting something – and how we can suffer because of that. it’s about standing back and watching how it plays out, this constant push me pull you of ‘I want this, i don’t want that’. I found it so helpful this summer when I went from such pleasure and joy (my holiday in Sinai) to despair and suffering (looking after my mother with dementia). I love my desires, and I’m going to make damn sure I get back to Egypt as soon as possible. At the same time, being able to stand back when things got tough and i so longed to be back on holiday was like a soothing balm.

  13. Yes, indeed! Len, “a life of one’s own is somehow threatening” to those who have found solace in settling for less ~ pursuing what is sure to please threatens the safety of the herd.

  14. Eric: Thank you for exposing a core taboo for what it is – not bad, not evil, but rather a path to a life of one’s own. Makes one wonder how going for what one really wants got to be taboo in the first place, unless a life of one’s own is somehow threatening…

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