Once in a Lifetime: From Self-Actualization to Soul Retrieval

Dear Friend and Reader:

First, before we get into Mars retrograde, remember: everything is headed for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in the first degree of Aquarius. Mars retrograde is preparation for whatever that aspect is about, and whatever that is, it’s something big.

At the same time, Chiron is still early in its trek through Aries; we have a lot to learn from this. The relationship is that the individuation of Chiron in Aries is essential for functioning under the intensified group energy of the forthcoming Aquarius planets.

Whether or not you get assimilated into the Borg and reduced to an IP address has much to do with your response to the conditions on the planet as they are developing now.

We are experiencing once-in-a-lifetime events; the pattern we are in will never repeat itself on any timescale relevant to contemporary history. The choice as always is to wake up or go to sleep, though it’s never been so crucial as it is today. We were in many ways blindsided by Saturn conjunct Pluto back in January. We are now under new astrology of equal magnitude, which is approaching fast. We are on notice to pay attention and to be ready to take action.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

Mars Retrograde is Preparation for the Future

Through the journey of recording The Story of I AM, I’ve been married to the Mars retrograde charts lately, and they are exciting. The retrograde of Mars happens in Aries, something that has not occurred since 1988 (August through October of that year).

My take is that Mars retrograde is preparation for two future developments. One is to fully take up the journey of Chiron in Aries (2018-2027), which is not yet in full force and effect. The other is to be ready for the Aquarian era of Jupiter, Saturn and then Pluto entering the 11th sign, beginning in December. Jupiter conjunct Saturn is a moment for the ages. We have, as yet, not decided what that is about — and it’s a big decision.

What kind of society do we want? What kind of people do we want to be? Do we want to be moving ever-faster toward existence as cyborgs on the “internet of things,” or do we value our humanity enough to keep it?

This is a real question, when we are flirting with the notion of citizenship rights being tied to an app on your phone, or a tattoo on your hand, that would give you permission to eat lunch or drive your car.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

The Special Case of Aries

Aries is a concept that deserves special analysis, as the first sign, and therefore representing initiation and genesis. Aries and its classical ruler Mars provide the basic initiative to commence the affairs of life, and represent a description of the energy to do so.

All of the signs contribute something distinct to the human experience, though several of the signs stand out. The quality of getting things moving is the key to surviving and thriving on our planet, where nothing much happens on its own. As Alice Bailey says right up top in her discussion of this sign, “Aries is the zodiacal sign through which the first Ray of Will or Power reaches our planetary life.” And a bit later, “Aries initiates the cycle of manifestation.”

This necessarily begins with manifesting the self, and the idea of self, and so Aries gets the distinction of being the sign of I AM. It is here that self is found and is also potentially lost.

As for found, one of my approaches is to look to the location of Aries in any personal chart (including the solar chart) as where a person will seek their personal wholeness. When you do this, you get some interesting results.

By this analysis, Scorpio is deeply concerned with the relevance of work, and develops itself there. This is about having Aries on the 6th house. Virgo, to give another example, will seek itself through merging with others — then when it comes to a new level of self-understanding, un-merge and individuate and then either move on, or try to re-establish the relationship. This is about having Aries on the 8th house. To give one last example, the solar chart suggests that Pisces has an affinity for money, and needs to orient strongly on its finances in order to feel whole; this in turn is related to the issue of self-value. [I cover all of these in detail in the autumn reading.]

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

The Avalanche Toward Virtual Living

As for losing oneself: I believe that Aries is the scene of radically changing, and for some, demolishing the concept and experience of self through total immersion in the digital sphere. We are living through a vast out-of-body experience: that is what “virtual reality” and “artificial intelligence” mean.

Having your memories on a device (your photos on a phone) is a way of externalizing a brain function to outside of your body. Though it has some similar properties, this is not the same thing as an old-school photo album. For one thing, you actually had to make the album yourself. And none was so large that it could contain 10,000 photos, but the albums were small enough that you could carry one almost everywhere.

One thing that has happened the past six months is an avalanche of physical reality into the digital realm. Everything from concerts to university courses are being created as digital events, not merely ending up there for replay. The concept of a meeting is being replaced by a virtual event.

Soon, people will watch reruns of The Office, and think that’s what it was really like to go to work, since nobody will remember having done it. Children will believe that professional sporting events always had cardboard cutouts in the seats; they will be amazed to learn you could actually go in person.

And I am eagerly awaiting the advent of the virtual vacation, where a family lies in a pod, is given a dream-inducing drug, and goes to Paris for a week, in the style of The Matrix. All of this is equally out-of-body experience, and that is the keynote of our time in history.

When living out of body is the norm, the body can be considered extremely weird, and the potential for disease can feel terrifying. Note that one of the purveyors of the vaccine is a computer programmer who believes that he has the ideal means of injecting seven billion people with an upgrade to their DNA.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

Reintroducing Self-Actualization

New media innovations tend to retrieve something old. This tells you why young people in the digital age have an interest in being farmers, butchers, bakers and candlestick makers. Something that would be excellent to retrieve is self-actualization.

This is the core curiosity that people have about what it means to be human. It is a tropism for existence, just like plants are phototropic and reach for the light, and tree roots are aquatropic and grow toward underground streams and the water table, and even crack through water and sewer mains.

Self-actualization is the process of “finding oneself” and also of bringing that self into actuality. This is a lifelong process that deserves to be treated with some reverence and also an understanding that growing, expressing yourself, and fully claiming your existence all require embarking on this journey and staying with it.

In our time, actualization of self means primarily existing in physical space and time. In virtual reality, everything is virtually real. The challenge in physical reality is that things seem “too real.” But really they are just ordinary real, which means they exist in space and time — and need to be addressed.

You can think of Mars as the agent of self-actualization. Often, part of becoming involves searching through the past, noticing the many ways you have compromised and sacrificed yourself, and claiming back elements of who you are. The retrograde describes consciously searching your past for where you left yourself behind, or have cast yourself off. This is mostly a psychological (secular) process. One does not need the idea of a higher power to make it work. You would only need the idea that, as Joni Mitchell put it, “I’m not sure who I am, but life is for learning.”

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

We Could Also See This as Soul Retrieval

In the course of reading the 12 charts for Mars retrograde — one for each of the signs — I began to see the astrology as representing not just self-actualization but also soul retrieval.

This is generally thought of as something you get from a shaman in Sedona, Arizona, to whom you pay a visit and who helps you get back your soul. This treats the soul as a thing, an object of some kind. Maybe it’s a little bit of flame that can be rekindled and that lives up on a cloud when you die. (As a child, I imagined this was shaped like the bottom of a shoe.)

From the standpoint of the seeker, I think of it as being assisted in collecting that seemingly missing thing, the lack of which is making life unfulfilling. Yet this can never be done by another person.

In the 1983 film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, the corporate boardroom scene (set in the headquarters of The Very Large Corporation of America) contains a short monologue that got my attention, which begins with a discussion of the profit potential of people not wearing enough hats. This is from the transcript:

“In the universe, there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person’s soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio [from the beginning], as orthodox Christianity teaches. It has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved, owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.”

In this sense, Mars retrograde offers the possibility of soul retrieval. There will be plenty to observe about yourself. And remember: soul is not a thing but a process of guided self-observation. That must be true: it comes from Monty Python and they are never wrong.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

Mars Aspects During the Retrograde

Mars makes many aspects during the retrograde, and it makes them to the planets that have cracked open the world as we knew it prior to Jan. 12. These are primarily chaos-goddess Eris in Aries (not an asteroid but an ultra-slow moving planet in the same sense that Pluto is); and 90-degree aspects to Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto.

Mars has made all these aspects in direct motion since midsummer through the present time, and will now make them in retrograde motion. In the mundane world — the outer physical world, where things like pandemics and elections happen — this will be a real shit show. People are going to be wondering how this is happening, though you can see the many elements of the setup going back for months.

The United States in particular has signed up for, and is paying handsomely for, the current state of perpetual crisis, and this is likely to be grossly accentuated. Remember that the U.S. Pluto return is running in the background of everything. This crisis associated with the election will reach new peaks as Election Day approaches, which will seem related to politics.

It goes much deeper, whether we are talking about the underlying emotional issues faced by individuals, or a culmination of the problems our society has been facing for generations. All of this will be enhanced by the immediate astrology of Mars retrograde squaring all those planets in late Capricorn — the sign of big business, government and the mental structures associated with them.

If you have your doubts whether any of this was planned in advance, that is understandable enough, and will be revealed in time. The thing to be wary of now is when political officials have an easy route to solving a problem and instead, complicate matters and drag out a crisis indefinitely — in effect, turning it into an industry. One of the ways to complete something is to embroil it in politics, the most dysfunctional level of human interaction in existence.

We are all too accustomed to this, and that is a serious problem.

The Capricorn alignment represents a lot of business going on behind the scenes, and some of it is going to burst out from behind the scenes. None of this will be flattering to the image of government or the political process. The last three weeks of the campaign occur with Mercury retrograde, which stations direct on Election Day. This is a situation comparable to what we experienced in 2000 with Bush v. Gore, with potentially delayed results, a lot of uncertainty, and the winner hanging in the balance for some time.

Yet I propose that most people will go along with it credulously because that is what they are used to.

Cynicism is a lazy point of view. Fortunately, this pattern has personal implications.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

Family Dynamics and Patterns

On the personal level, Mars and Eris versus all those planets in Capricorn are likely to stir up family dynamics, including unresolved stuff from the past. This of course relates to the drama that society is in. It always does; the problems of the family become the problems of the culture.

It is for this reason that the problems of the culture are unlikely to ever be resolved before there are a lot of people who have taken care of their family karma, and the damage that it did to them. This does not happen by accident. Most of the time, it happens in therapy, and I am wondering whether that exists anymore. There must be other ways; if you know of one, please tell me.

We are about to have a grand opportunity to do some of this work. It might show up in an annoying form; it might show up as a challenge that you know you can rise to, or not. Mars retrograde has the power to probe deeply into the past, and it’s about to make contact with a group of retrograde planets that are themselves keepers of secrets from the world gone by.

Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.

The Nature of Mars

As I’ve written before, Marshall McLuhan described how violence is always a quest for identity. He got this idea from Ray Bradbury, the author of The Martian Chronicles, and adapted it to media study.

This is a perfect description of Mars as most people experience it. There are alternate ways to find ourselves, but nothing so convenient and available all the time as starting a fight, an argument, a war or some other form of conflict.

Learning about ourselves peacefully — that is, to embody the peaceful expression of Mars — takes patience, time, long experience, and commitment to a conscious growth path that is itself not a diversion. Growth must include reckoning with sexual desire, which turns pernicious when not expressed in a wholesome way.

We began with Alice Bailey, and I want to end with one of her ideas, which have an odd way of being borne out by developments of science. In Esoteric Astrology, she refers ot “System One” and “System Two,” meaning the two major revisions of our solar system. She says we now live in System Two. That turns out to be true. The original solar system originally had about 40 planets — that is, the one before the Earth was formed. The planets smashed into one another, shattered, and reformed into other new planets. The asteroid belt is a leftover material that did not aggregate into a planet.

Mars, as I understand it, is a holdover from System One. It’s a remnant of the original solar system. A lot has happened there, and somewhere in that history is the powers on that planet making war with one another just when they needed to be solving an environmental crisis.

We would do well to look to Mars as a potential future of life on Earth, if we don’t learn how to express this energy peacefully. That is to say, we have some decisions to make.

The next few months will present many opportunities to do so. Let’s get this correct now: we will never pass this way again.

With love,

A view from the “Kimberley” formation on Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Monday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor & Publisher: Eric F. Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. News Editor: Spencer Stevens. Assistant Editor: Joshua Halinen. Client Services: Amy Elliott and Victoria Emory. Illustrator: Lanvi Nguyen. Senior Finance Minister, First Cavalry of the Local Economy: Andrew Slater. Archivist: Morgan Francis. Technical Assistants: Cate Ryzhenko, Emily Thing. Proofreading: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Music: Zeljko. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Rachel Chaput, Loreen Costa, Robin Dann, Yuko Katori, Kirsti Melto, Cindy Tice Ragusa, Abby Rohrer, and Carol van Strum.

2020 Autumn Reading — Instant Access:
The Story of I AM is Now Published

The Story of I AM series of readings is now completed, published and available for instant access. We are still offering them at the pre-order price of $99 for all 12, and you can now choose your individual signs here.

Dear Friend and Reader:

We have now published The Story of I AM — the 2020 autumn reading. These are a set of 12 astrology readings for each of the Sun and rising signs, each lasting 40 minutes.

The preview is available — a 30-minute discussion of what Mars retrograde is about, how it relates to the Capricorn alignment, and what its message is likely to be. We will learn more as we go through the experience (which lasts from Sept. 9 through Nov. 13).

Still from the Scorpio edition of The Story of I AM. You may watch the free video preview to the whole series at this link. There are also samples for all 12 signs linked below this letter.

This series is available well in time to consider the implications of this unusual transit. Mars has not been retrograde in Aries since 1988; Mars favors retrogrades over on the Leo-Virgo-Libra side of the zodiac, so like many things happening in 2020, this is a generational event.

Though we are in challenging times, I take a positive approach. I’m reading astrology, through the philosophical lens of self-actualization and human potential: ideas we have not heard discussed in a very long time. And they are ideas we can benefit from now, and which a few of us remember.

To this work, I bring all of my experience supporting countless individuals through many sensitive transitions in their lives. My training in Gestalt Therapy (in the tradition of Fritz Perls), Hakomi Therapy (personally with Ron Kurtz) and Holistic Therapy (with Joseph Trusso) contribute greatly to my knowledge base, all of which take a client-centered approach rather than a theoretical or analytical one.

I take a positive and practical perspective, and a deep one. Astrology grants the ability to see behind the scenes, and to spot issues that might otherwise get missed. When done, astrology can save years of work. In our time, anyway, we don’t have years, and cost is a factor. With an astrology reading, even one gem of an idea can focus your intentions and your progress.

These days a video chat with a therapist costs about $100. For just $99, you will get a series of 12 videos, all of which you will gain something helpful from. Your Sun and rising signs will be the ones to go to first, though Aries and Aquarius are the reference readings for this series. [The price for all 12 will go up to $111 very soon.]

These are readings that call for multiple viewings, and which will be worth watching again in six months.

You can get all 12 signs of The Story of I AM as one purchase per household — you may share with loved ones and intimate partners if you think the work will benefit them. Alternatively, you may choose your individual signs.

Thank you for your business, and for trusting me as your astrologer.

With love,
PS — This reading is included with the Backstage Pass.

Here are free five-minute reading samples for each sign:


Chiron Return, our nonprofit arm, publishes Covid19 News every day, in fact several times a day. We have updated about 740 times since we began publishing on March 3. This old-style news weblog takes a panoramic view of the virus situation. We offer news and viewpoints from a wide diversity of sources, science news, international reporting, videos and other resources to help you see the wide diversity of information not making it onto television or major websites. We are tracking the vaccine and testing issues carefully.

Each Friday night, Chiron Return publishes Planet Waves FM. Running since 2010, with roots into Radio Woodstock in the 1990s, Planet Waves FM covers current events, current astrology, science history, personal growth and other themes. Includes music by Vision Quest, the in-house Planet Waves orchestra.

Planet Waves publishes daily astrology and birthdays through the week. This feature includes a daily extended birthday reading and ongoing commentaries on developing astrology as it happens. Check in whenever you want — no password required.

2 thoughts on “Once in a Lifetime: From Self-Actualization to Soul Retrieval”

  1. I really appreciated this article. Specifically the information regarding self-actualization and learning about ourselves through an argument/ conflict / war. I appreciate that you look for other options – are there any besides therapy and offering learning about ourselves via peaceful means. Thank you!

Leave a Comment