Dear Friend and Reader:
There has been heaviness in my heart, as I imagine there might be in yours. Waking up yesterday to the sounds of the latest news reports from Paris set a dark tone to my day as I prepared to write the first draft of this piece. Yet our lives, like the skies, are always shifting; a new perspective, mood or mindset is often just around the corner.
No, that does not change the bare facts of your life, or of the world at large. Our processes of grief and of bearing witness need us to allow them time and space.
Even so, in the same small way that taking a shower and changing your clothes can freshen your body, which in turn helps your mind to wake up or clear, so too can the movement of planets from the end of one sign into the beginning of another shift your experience in barely perceptible, yet significant, ways.
Between now and the weekend, first Mercury and then the Sun will leave Scorpio and enter Sagittarius. Mercury makes its move Friday at 2:43 pm EST (19:43 UTC); the Sun follows suit Sunday at 10:25 am EST (15:25 UTC).
Scorpio speaks of water, darkness, concentrated emotion and guarded secrets; Sagittarius is fire, brightness, broad perception and freely offered perceptions. Where Scorpio draws inward, Sagittarius thrusts outward.
Sagittarius is also a mutable sign, in contrast to Scorpio’s fixity. It is the last sign of the season; as the Sun enters and moves though Sagittarius, autumn begins to make way for winter in the Northern Hemisphere (spring loosens up into summer Down Under).
When the Sun reaches the midpoint of Sagittarius, it aligns with a deep-space point called the Great Attractor, which can manifest as a sense of polarization or a kind of push-pull feeling. A little later in the sign, the Sun aligns with the center of our Milky Way Galaxy — what can be thought of as our ‘cosmic homing signal’, and which likely relates to the more philosophical, spiritually seeking and humanitarian qualities associated with Sagittarius.
Yet every sign has its shadow expression. For Sagittarius, that often includes a bold case of foot-in-mouth disease, and can extend into the sort of conviction in one’s beliefs that lends itself to the soapbox. For some Sagittarians, the need for freedom can make ‘traditional’ relationships difficult; thankfully, it’s increasingly accepted in our culture that a wide variety of relationship models can work.
This year, as the Sun and Mercury move through Sagittarius, they will both encounter Saturn relatively quickly (Nov. 24 for Mercury, Nov. 29 for the Sun). The discipline toward responsibilities and depth of mind signified by these conjunctions can bode well for getting work done (and done well).
Yet Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, which lends the expansive impulses that characterize this sign — impulses that stand in stark contrast to the restraint and limitations Saturn insists upon. While this can feel a little depressive, I think a key lies in keeping your focus outward, on your goals (rather than inward, on any frustration you might feel). It is always much easier to buckle down and get ‘er done when you have a clear sense of what you’re aiming to achieve; Saturn will support that.
Even better is if your goal or current task involves helping others. Not only is humanitarian work Sagittarius’ forte, focusing on helping others is an excellent way to bypass the over-focus on self and struggle that can come with depression.
(Note: I am not suggesting that if you are dealing with severe depression that you can or should be able to ‘just focus on others’ and feel better. Severe depression is complex, and any treatment program is best pursued with the help of health care professionals, however you define that for yourself. If, however, you simply feel like you’re in a temporary funk, some volunteer work, activism or even helping a friend to problem-solve might help you to re-direct your attention and better use your energy.)
As the Sun and Mercury encounter Saturn in Sagittarius, they will simultaneously (along with Saturn) be squaring Neptune in Pisces. Saturn square Neptune is a long-term aspect that will be functional for almost a year; its first exact aspect is next Thursday, Nov. 26 — Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.
I’ll have more to say about Saturn-Neptune next week. But Eric has been studying this aspect for months now, using it as a foundation for the 2016 annual readings from Planet Waves, called Vision Quest. In one recent letter, Eric described the productive potential of Saturn-Neptune:
“Here is how I see it. Saturn square Neptune represents the dissolving of established thought forms. There’s a lot of talk now about doing something about the patriarchy — this aspect is close to that. It’s about how nearly all firm, solid or inflexible thought forms are going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Of course, she didn’t like that a bit. One of the most challenging elements of Saturn square Neptune is the feeling of a kind of spiritual confusion — that is, not knowing what you believe. You may have been firm in your beliefs one day and suddenly you’re not so sure. This is part of the process.”
Depending on the political, religious and cultural makeup of your extended family (or friends / family of choice), this could make for especially interesting conversation around the dinner table during the holidays — particularly given the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut, and the backlash against Syrian refugees that we’re seeing in more conservative and fearful circles.
From one astrological perspective, both the terrorist attacks and the backlash have something in common: both count as a kind of “thrashing about” by those who are trying to cling to religious and ‘philosophical’ concepts whose time is up (Eric describes this Saturn-Neptune phenomena, in the context of the Paris attacks, here).
We’re all in the midst of a cultural and spiritual process that is very uncomfortable but which, if we can each work toward the highest good of all concerned, might dissolve some constructs that are overdue for dissolution. One key piece will be for each of us to continue doing our own inner work with as much honesty and integrity as possible. At the same time, it’s also up to each of us to be the example we wish to see in tangible, visible ways. You have to get out of your navel on a regular basis and participate in your wider community.
Speaking of inner work and action: before Mercury and the Sun encounter Saturn and Neptune directly, they each first make an exact square to the centaur planet Nessus in the first degree of Pisces, immediately upon ingressing Sagittarius. Centaur planets bring material to our attention for healing purposes, though they often do so in uncomfortable ways.
Nessus generally has to do with shadow material or abuse/wounding that has been handed down through the generations (or through past lives, if that resonates with you). Its presence indicates that you have an opportunity to stop a repeating pattern in some way.
Mercury in Sagittarius tends to miss the details in favor of focusing on more distant or broader things, so it’s up to you to consciously adjust your mental lens periodically. Mercury in Sadge is sincere, yet can be blunt and unintentionally inconsiderate in speaking, or impatient in forming opinions.
In a square aspect (90 degrees on the zodiac wheel), Mercury-Sun-Nessus translates to your awareness of a situation that causes internal tension, requiring you to take action. What I see here is more than just an opportunity to stop the proverbial buck on beliefs and religious or philosophical delusions that you’ve inherited; in light of world events, this looks like an imperative.
If you’re in the U.S., next week’s Thanksgiving celebration could be a very interesting one; one in which you step more fully into owning your worldview as distinct from that of your family or community of origin. This is not a new process for you; this weekend’s astrology merely represents another step along the path you chose a long time ago. As current events are demonstrating, the steps you take now to update your inner files and engage with the world actively are desperately needed, and come not a moment too soon.
After the Dinner Conversation, the Bedroom
Some additional thoughts, about a current aspect you may have already noticed in your interactions this week: Venus in Libra is square Pluto in Capricorn, exact Friday at 9:02 pm EST (2:02 UTC Saturday). At its essence, this is an aspect about sex and power.
Robert Hand has suggested that Venus square Pluto can indicate a powerful love experience being catalyzed. Yet there are less functional ways that ‘love’ (specifically sex) and power intersect in people’s lives, and this dysfunction is very common. Western popular culture does not offer much clarity on how to sort through this dynamic.
Take, for example, the latest James Bond movie, Spectre (I’ll do my best not to provide any true spoilers). The film’s two brief (and rather anachronistic) ‘love scenes’ have little to do with affection, connection, equal exchange (or a level playing field), true empathy or intimate sharing. They’re more like truncated preludes to sex scenes, without the payoff.
Rather, these moments between Bond and the two women in question are predicated on a blatant power dynamic. In one case, Bond exerts his ability as a killer as a prelude to using seduction to gain information, briefly forestalling death for the woman before he is on his way. In the other case, Bond wins over a woman who’s been resisting his efforts to protect her. They apparently bond during a high-adrenaline crisis (fighting a villain together), which segues into the discharge of their heightened energy (and latent chemistry) through sex.
How Venus-and-Pluto can you get, right? Sex and death, sandwiched together like an Oreo cookie; all that’s missing is the milk — a little realistic emotion to wash it all down.
Now, I know that this sex-and-power formula has been serving the Bond franchise well for decades, along with hordes of other Hollywood movies, and that feminists all over have decried it for about as long. Yet it still persists, embraced by fans as part of the Secret Agent mythos — and more broadly, our overall romantic mythos.
As enlightened and educated and in touch with authentic sexual sharing as some people may be, sex and power are still inextricably linked in Western culture. Movies like Spectre are a reflection of our collective sexual imagination just as much as they perpetuate stereotypes and illusions. We repeatedly seek in entertainment and in our real lives some of the very power dynamics in sex that we denounce in other social contexts.
Eric said to me in an email exchange yesterday, “Venus (especially in Libra) square Pluto to me is the question of pleasure or power. I remain aghast at how much sexual energy is funneled into power drama rather than into relating and pleasure. Erica Jong once wrote an article for Penthouse called Is Sex Sexy Without Power? She concluded that people equate power with sexy.”
I would say Erica Jong’s question is right on the money — and lots of money is being made exploiting that dynamic. Unfortunately, a lot of pain is generated and energy wasted when we can’t see it for what it is in our own lives. To speak one’s sexual desires is still taboo for many; in that secrecy (another Pluto theme, and it relates to Neptune, too) there is power. But at what cost? I think part of what is lost is agency and authority: another form of power, but one that asks us to take on vastly more accountability and responsibility than does secrecy.
Eric continued, “There has to be some dominance and some submission [in sex as most people approach it]; few people seem able to engage in an equal or level or equivalent exchange.”
I would agree. And the slope gets slippery when people argue that any exercise of power in sex indicates some level of rape or lack of consent. Is that actually the case? Or is some power play acceptable — sometimes fun, or even conducive to certain stages of growth and healing?
Does simply being conscious of the use of power in sex make the difference, or is it still an issue? What happens when one person tries to establish level sexual ground, but the other person does not know how, or is not interested in trying? Is there truly such a thing as level ground in a sexual encounter, or is it more that in healthy sexual relationships, the power shifts back and forth between participants in subtle ways?
I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is how easy it is to slide into actions that bypass clear communication and full respect for my partner’s needs. Without truly meaning to, I can cross the line into subtle manipulation; usually that happens when I am not being forthright with myself about what I want, and when I do not fully verbalize those desires.
I’m not proud of that, and it’s something I am working on being more conscious of. I mention it only to illustrate a point: you don’t have to be James Bond or one of his famed ‘girls’ to get caught in challenging sexual power dynamics, and rape is not the only form of sexual power imbalance. It comes in many shapes and sizes, and most of us are far more familiar with it than we are with its opposite. If you’re willing to see it, you’re likely to find it.
Yours & truly,
Weekly Horoscope for Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, #1076 | By Len Wallick
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Both your inner and outer worlds are wider and fuller than they may seem. There is more support and there are more resources readily at hand than you might think. For one thing, we all have a tendency to take certain people or things for granted because they are always there. What remains of this year and most of next year would be a good time to exercise intent and take stock of those people and other resources in order to appreciate how much more they have to offer. Doing so will be a matter of breaking out of your own habitual ways of relating. In other words, get to know everybody and everything familiar to you more deeply by behaving as if you are getting acquainted for the first time. As for what escapes your notice because it is in some way hidden, you might want to employ a different strategy — active patience. Wait, but be alert for whatever surprises you. Then explore the reasons you were surprised. — by Len Wallick
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — Surrender need not mean giving away your power. Surrender as a premeditated act of will actually has the potential to confer power. Few are those who can help you see the difference. Even more rare are those who can guide you to employ surrender as a skill for empowerment. For the next 12 months or so, you will be in a good position either to be among those few or to learn from them. First, however, you must assess which role is more appropriate for you. In all likelihood, your intuition will not help. Rather, embrace the counter-intuitive. The more you feel the need to learn, the more likely you are ready to teach. The less you feel a need to demand respect, the more prepared you are to earn it. Alternatively, if you are reflexively asserting yourself first and reflecting later — as in, always the first to raise your voice or to be continuously adamant — chances are you need to let go and allow yourself to be reshaped by at least some of what you currently resist. — by Len Wallick
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Wistful winds are blowing. You may allow them to move on. You may also elect to move on with them. The important thing to remember is that you are always free to choose. What to choose is your prerogative. How to choose begins with thinking it over while feeling your needs; then proceed to talk it over with those who have proven able to ground you, and to be your points of contact with reality. Yes, integrity does mean being responsible for any obligations you have taken on, but that’s not all there is to it. At root, being in integrity means being whole. In order to be whole you need to feel alive in addition to simply being alive. In all probability you have had some prior experience with airy yearnings, so thinking them over would entail taking into account what you have learned. By the same token, talking things over needs to include both offering and agreeing to clearly understood compromise and delegations of power. — by Len Wallick
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — There’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself busy, so long as you are aware of your purpose for doing so. For example, if you are keeping yourself totally immersed in your work or chores in an effort to stay on top of everything, give yourself a pat on the back for your diligence and energy. On the other hand, there is also nothing wrong with slacking off whenever you find yourself wondering why you feel the need to be constantly occupied. Pausing for as long as it takes to get some perspective and self-awareness is just as important to your physical and mental health as taking time for food and sleep. Either way, whether you are on the treadmill or on the couch, it’s not so much the degree of activity that matters. So long as your behavior is not unconsciously compulsive, but rather consciously motivated by a desire to keep your life in balance, whatever you are doing (or not doing) will amount to something, and so will you. — by Len Wallick
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Question clarity. You have reason to. When you stop to think about it (and are willing to admit it), at least some of the conclusions you have jumped to and some of the assumptions you have made lately have been off the mark. All of which indicates a need to get hard information either to verify or revise your version of anything that is outside the boundaries of your personal experience. This is especially true regarding maters of the past. Doing so will probably entail taking chances, and not in the form of guessing, either. Rather, the time has come to take the risk of being pointedly inquisitive. It’s time for specific questions you have thus far avoided asking, either because you did not want to be offensive, or were afraid to hear the answers. It may seem strange, but simply facing those fears and getting to the bottom of things could very well serve to make the present more pleasant, more fun and more illuminating for you and everybody you have a history with. — by Len Wallick
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — If by chance while examining yourself you bump into some characteristics of those you have criticized most harshly, don’t be dismayed. It will not mean you have stubbed your toe on an obstruction in the dark. It will mean you have made valuable contact with an enlightening truth. If you can bring yourself to dare yet another step and accept in yourself what you have summarily rejected in others, it will also mean you have made remarkable progress in your personal evolution. If, as result, you find that you have been taking a hard line with the wrong people, don’t feel guilty. The right people to have in your life will always forgive you, no matter how long you have estranged yourself from them. Finally, if there are those you have avoided confronting because you are intimidated by either their dominance in your life or the consequences of following through, you might want to reconsider your reticence while you still have time to take meaningful action. — by Len Wallick
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — What works for you may not work for others. What convinces you might not be convincing to others. What is true for you could very well be false for others. Keep these and other possibilities of disparity in mind but don’t allow yourself to despair over them, for that itself would be unreasonable. Even if you seem to be alone in knowing it, allow yourself to be comforted by the fact that everybody on Earth has far more in common than otherwise. We all have to breathe. Nobody can do without water. Food is a necessity. Such needs unite all beings. Yet there is also comfort to be found in diversity. What works for you today may not work tomorrow, and somebody else’s way of doing things could someday be the adaptation you ultimately make to get your most fundamental needs met. It is therefore in your own best interest to see differences as what can keep us all going, even as what we have in common can also serve to keep us together. — by Len Wallick
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Make something. What you choose to create will not matter. Even the quality of what you produce will not be of great importance at first; the simpler and easier the better, at least to begin with. Cooking a meal from scratch will do very well for starters, even if you are the only one you are cooking for. So long as you can see something of yourself in what you make, it will be enough. Then, when you are finished, get started making something else. Not to keep yourself busy, and not because your service to others is somehow unworthy, but to demonstrate tangible evidence that will allow you to better monitor, understand and appreciate your state of mind and inner workings. Manifesting something of your soul and spirit in the world will produce a perspective that meditation alone will never be able to provide. Becoming part of your outer environment will reveal more than any mirror. Get it out; then take it in. — by Len Wallick
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Sometimes there are things you have to do even if you don’t want to do them. Regardless of what obligations go with your territory, however, it’s good to keep in mind that there are at least three things you should never feel bound to do to yourself. First, you need not do things that would clearly and certainly damage your health. Yes, sometimes you have to take manageable risks like crossing a street, but you never absolutely have to throw yourself under a bus on purpose. Neither should you feel it necessary to break your spirit. Agreed, there are times to follow another’s lead or even subordinate your will to serve something greater than yourself. But there is no good reason to render yourself forever incapable of either leading or being a cause. Finally, it should never be inevitable that you would have to build walls that isolate you from everybody else. Even the loneliest tasks do not preclude your resuming connection with others once they are done. — by Len Wallick
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — Among the best friends you have, you must now surely conclude that you are among them. After all the challenges you have faced in recent years, you must admit that you have done a great job of helping yourself to get through them. Now, it appears as if you have reached a crucial point when you can either cement your relationship with yourself as your own best friend forever, or backslide into becoming your own worst enemy. To be your own BFF, return the favor now. Refrain from self-loathing. If you do make a mistake, admit it and move on. If you offend or injure another, make fair amends, and move on. If it is appropriate to express regret or show remorse, be sincere in doing so without going over the edge into perpetual self-flagellation. Learn from any and all errors and do yourself the favor of not repeating them. Afford yourself the same generosity, tolerance and love you offer to others who have supported and affirmed you in your times of greatest need. — by Len Wallick
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — One of the best ways of showing respect for others is to adopt their values or emulate their behavior. If there is somebody whose physical fitness you respect, ask them to share the details of their regimen. Then, with respect for your own limits and after consulting with your own healthcare provider, give whatever parts of their practice seem both safe and appropriate for you a chance to show similar results. Should you come across a good example of self-regulation, ask that person how they got that way, then look into what it would require of you to learn their skills. By the same token, allow anybody whose spiritual development impresses you to at least inform you of their source of inspiration. It’s not that you are unworthy of respect just the way you are, but if you do find yourself looking up to somebody, wouldn’t it make sense to move so that you can look them in the eye? — by Len Wallick
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — If you find yourself meeting the world differently from how you did just four or five years ago, don’t be concerned. There is nothing wrong with you. It’s very possible that you are actually showing the rest of us something very right. But being right will do you no good if other people only see righteousness. Therefore, have faith that the content of your character requires little or no revision. Rather, direct your efforts toward finding and refining your best outward form. Since what you have to offer is substantial, it would not do to have that form be trivial or superficial. Yet, your presentation must also be easy to take. Think about what sort of person you would feel comfortable inviting in your home, and model yourself along those lines. Think of your calling as being, at least in part, a caller. Be the different drummer who plays in harmony with the music others already hear in themselves. — by Len Wallick