Soul to Soul
LOOKING for astrological metaphors to explain the feeling of the times we’re living in, I keep coming back to Neptune in Aquarius. What feeling? The feeling that nothing matters; the feeling of a world anaesthetized to its own pain; the feeling that no one and nothing can make a difference. Even among the conscious, there is a terrible sense of paralysis. Have you noticed?
Yesterday, researching a different subject — corporations and a form of government called corporatism — I found a recent sociological study that to me reveals the essence of Neptune in Aquarius. The research, published last month, shows that more people than ever have nobody to talk to about important matters. Indeed, having no close confidants at all was the most common response, or “mode” in the study.
Of those people who do share the intimate details of their lives with others, the number of confidants declined from nearly three to two during the past 20 years. We are becoming a society of the friendless.
“Discussion networks are smaller in 2004 than in 1985,” the researchers say. “The number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled. The mean [overall average] network size decreases by about a third (one confidant), from 2.94 in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. The modal [most common condition] respondent now reports having no confidant; the modal respondent in 1985 had three confidants.”
“Many more people talk to no one about matters they consider important to them in 2004 than was the case two decades ago,” the researchers say. Of the people that respondents chose, most were primary partners — suggesting that those relationships are socially isolated and under pressure.
Note, this study covers the United States. The situation is probably better in the United Kingdom and Europe due to the more stable nature of those societies — but I cannot say how much better. Trends in Europe often follow trends in the United States by several years, and there is plenty about both European and UK societies that threatens intimate social interaction.
I’ve noticed this phenomenon plenty in my 12 years of doing astrological readings. Many people would arrive for the session and the feeling I had was that I was the only person they could confide their personal truth to. Many would share things they could not discuss with friends, partners or even their therapists, mainly because they feared being judged or rejected for revealing who they were.
But I’ve also noticed something else, having lived in at least 10 highly diverse metropolitan areas in several countries in recent years, ranging from the Southeast to the Northwest to several European cities: most places, people seem loathe to make new friends, or to welcome others into their social circles. This exists on the level of a social phobia, which is indeed a massively diagnosed psychological disease in our era of history, often “treated” with anti-anxiety drugs. The majority of places I’ve lived, the resistance to making new acquaintances feels so forceful you could get a concussion walking into it. It’s amazing anyone has any friends at all. Which, according to this study (linked from article below), is exactly the truth of the matter.
Two decades back, when we had an average of three confidential friends and not just two, takes us back to the heart of the Reagan-Thatcher years, around 1985 or so. Chiron was in Gemini. Pluto was in Scorpio. This was the time of the rise of arch-conservatism that is now cutting ahead at full-throttle: a kind of ultimate me generation where many political, social and religious leaders sought to push their fearful, regressive and angry agenda on the world.
AIDS was becoming all the rage. It was, in theory, time to Say No, but I wonder how many tons of cocaine landed in that Arkansas airport.
Neptune in Aquarius started 14 years later, in January 1998, so we cannot define that as the only factor in the current situation — but astrology is about symbols and metaphors, and Neptune in Aquarius, which lasts into 2012, is a particularly poignant and enduring one for the issue of alienation.
Aquarius, the 11th sign, represents many forms of group activity and collective mentality. It covers a range of themes, from friendship, to community, to social networks, to a phenomenon known as “group think,” where people cease to have thoughts of their own, enter the Pepsi trance, and go along with the crowd. Aquarius at its highest is one of the most visionary archetypes in astrology; at the bottom, it’s the fertile ground in which the seeds of fascism and fashion are planted.
Another paradox of Aquarius is that it represents highly individualized people and the freedom to be eccentric and different; it represents the highest order of individual intelligence and invention; and it represents the power that groups hold over people to get them to yield their individual values, conform to blatant stupidity, and act mindlessly.
Aquarius also represents the technology sphere: everything from your microwave oven to television; from the Internet to databases. Note, there is a relationship to Pisces, which is the symbol of all forms of creativity that become the content of the media and its vibrational frequency; that which is broadcast over those airwaves illustrated in the symbol of this sign.
Now let’s add a little (or rather, a lot) Neptune, which represents water, fog, compassion, mysticism, creativity, altered states, deception, denial and intoxicants of any kind, as the content of Aquariusor that which is transmitted. As with any archetype, Neptune has no definite polarity (good, bad, helpful, destructive). Rather, it works on the level you indulge, experience or express it. This is a challenging part of astrology for many people — when addressing astrological archetypes, nothing is really “good” or “bad” but is, rather, what you make of it.
The Awareness Factor
The active ingredient here is consciousness, that is, as an active factor, not merely a passive one. Neptune can symbolize looking at porn for hours; it can symbolize the inspiration or subtle creative fire that it takes to create a film or art exhibit. You get your Neptune and you do what you want, or what you can, with it.
It can symbolize going to the bar every night and drinking, or it can represent humanity’s long relationship with using altered states of consciousness for creative inspiration. It can represent lying as a matter of policy or habit, or compassion (the opposite of lying) as a natural expression of human awareness. Every planet or sign has its particular choice involved. With Neptune, the choice to be aware, conscious, active, creative and positive is particularly crucial.
Yet most people do find creative awareness to be a difficult state of mind to stabilize and turn to an active process. And we are, all the time, having our creativity robbed, sucked off of us like the foam on a latte, by the prevailing advertising and media culture, which steals our inspiration and our money. We are, quite literally, being overdosed on toxic Neptune and having our creative resources depleted.
One quality of Neptune that many have observed is that it can be isolating. Neptune can feel like being on a little boat in the middle of a vast ocean, wondering if anyone else is alive. That ocean can swallow an individual and nobody would ever know.
Aquarius represents all forms of group activity and dynamics. It is the place where the collective meets the individual and vice versa. When you add Neptune to the mix, you can get a steady deterioration of all forms of social organization. The idea of a collective truth, something that matters to “all of us,” can be lost without a trace. The entire notion of “us” or “we” can — and is — having ever less meaning.
What is most shocking (despite Neptune in Aquarius, I am still vaguely capable of incredulity and being stunned by certain phenomena) is that so many people believe so many huge lies, or don’t care enough to do anything. Is any world event shocking, or is everything merely another story with a 36-hour shelf life? Does everything just disappear into the fog, and lack any personal relevance?
Yep — that’s the problem.
The Prior Neptune in Capricorn Era
The Neptune in Aquarius era is an extension of the Neptune in Capricorn era, which represented a breakdown of the known order of society. It was powerful enough to topple the USSR and the Berlin Wall. But what did it do in Western civilizations? What was the corresponding loss of structural integrity, tradition and history?
Neptune in Capricorn peaked with the 1989 triple conjunction of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Saturn and Neptune made three exact conjunctions in 1989. Then the Uranus-Neptune part of the conjunction continued at full strength through 1993 and continues to have significant influence. And now Saturn is back in the equation, making the first opposition to Neptune since the conjunction 17 years ago.
It’s as if the entire social order collapsed beneath our feet, which then spread upwards to our social relationships and group interactions. This has done wonders for the “every man and woman for himself” marketing culture.
Returning to the study we began with, we can see that deteriorating social structures are having a direct effect on human experience. Now, not only do we lack physically present extended families, we very often lack “nuclear” families; we no longer have villages or towns most places; the idea of a neighborhood as a base of social contact is nearly gone; and there are exceedingly few organizations that have any relevance. One sociologist from Harvard even wrote a book called Bowling Alone to describe the situation.
This confirms something I’ve observed for a long time: that monogamous relationships are socially isolated. They no longer exist in the context of a community. They are like little islands, and the risk of losing one’s partner also carries the risk of losing one’s closet confident — and having no other to replace him or her with. This puts a lot of pressure on those relationships.
Enter Chiron and Nessus
Centaur planets, a group led by Chiron, always represent the awareness factor. In the current situation, they represent some factor or set of factors that will help us feel what we have been missing. Over the past 18 months, two — Chiron and Nessus — have been working their way across early Aquarius. These transits were covered in some detail in this archived edition:
Barbara Hand Clow described the relationship between Chiron and Neptune as a funnel with two ends. Neptune is the wide end of the funnel. Chiron is the concentrated focused end. Let’s take a look at the Centaur factor.
Chiron in Aquarius represents the “tribal wound” we’re speaking of here, but also the ability to raise awareness around it and resolve the problem. Indeed, Chiron always resolves more than the perceived problem — there is an effect where power is concentrated around what we call an “issue” and a much higher order of reality can be evolved, developed or created. It’s very much the cosmic pearl, which is the result of irritation. When we respond consciously to Chiron, we are responding on the level of seeing the problem and creating a system of productive energy around it.
This factor is inserting itself right at the membrane between where the individual meets any form of a group; on the level of an individual’s perception of how they relate to a group; and other questions of whether one is able to break away from conformity to the rules.
Chiron in Aquarius will aspect some important factor in nearly every person’s natal chart, particularly vital planets on the fixed cross (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius) that are the backbone of a chart. By these transits, the themes of this discussion will arise in a way specific to your life experience. For example, if you have a Scorpio Moon and have nourished your emotional need to be possessive, the square from Chiron could serve as a trigger to begin letting go of that.
A Taurus Moon’s need for stability could come under the influence that change is the only real option at this stage of life.
Nessus in Aquarius represents a deeper level of the tribal wound: the direct betrayal we feel when it comes to informal groups, circles of friends, organizations and society itself. It’s “all that has ensured that we trust nobody.” This is about the abuse of organizational or social power; the intentional misuse of trust, including senseless political antics in small organizations.
The Nessus wound is not so much about circumstances we passively encounter but rather about conscious betrayal or attack. It is more sinister, and is spoken of less frequently. There may be the false sense that you deserve what you’re getting, a kind of twisted logic that is something not necessarily true of Chiron; or that whatever is happening, you specifically do not deserve it.
With Nessus as a healing factor, there is a necessary understanding of the “dark side” that we gain, whether it be psychology or politics, and a sense of taking responsibility not just for the pain of the world, but the intentional evil that is created.
These two factors represent an antidote to the toxic side of Neptune in Aquarius, and also a focusing of the creative power of this transit.
Chiron’s first gift is that of taking hold of our lost individuality. The planets discoverer, Charles Kowal, assigned it its first keyword: the Maverick. A maverick is one who is not afraid to stand out from the crowd and be an individual. This is helpful because only individuals can relate to others as other individuals. We may notice that the alienation gets so bad, we are forced wake up and do precisely that.++
In Case You’re Curious…
Some research notes from this article. Not footnotes, just random notes.
“From the standpoint of the pledged disciple and initiate who traverses again the Path of the Sun and finds that which he has discovered himself to be in Leo finds its Crown in Aquarius. The separative individual consciousness becomes the group consciousness in Aquarius, and he begins to comprehend the significance of that basic combination of signs, that ‘triangle in consciousness’ of humanity: Cancer [mass awareness], Leo [individual awareness], and Aquarius [group awareness].
— Alice A. Bailey, Esoteric Astrology, page 61
1. Article on having fewer friends from Seattle Times / Knight Ridder, with a link to the text of the original study: http://snipurl.com/th6y
2. Earlier article on Neptune in Aquarius
3. Wikipedia on Corporatism. Currently, the corporate bodies happen to be corporations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporatism
4. Robert Putnam, the author of “Bowling Alone,” the 2000 best-seller on declining U.S. civic life, said his more recent research generally tracked the findings of Smith-Lovin and Miller McPherson, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
“We would actually think that the trends have leveled off a little bit” since 2000, but not reversed, said Putnam, who teaches public policy at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.
People pay a price when bonds of friendship weaken, he continued. “Communities that have tighter social networks have lower crime and lower mortality and less corruption and more effective government and less tax evasion.”
5. and in case you’ve never met the lady…
“The Russians are bent on world dominance, and they are rapidly acquiring the means to become the most powerful imperial nation the world has seen. The men in the Soviet Politburo do not have to worry about the ebb and flow of public opinion. They put guns before butter, while we put just about everything before guns.” — M.T.
(So therefore we need to become just like them…)
6. Noam Chomsky – The Murder Of A Nation
Lebanon – Israel Facts the Media Isn’t Telling You
7-Minute Video and transcript. Click here to view
Mars in Virgo: The Details of Self and Desire
MARS enters the sign Virgo Saturday night, and we’ll need to put that energy to healthy and productive expression. Virgo is one of the most aware signs of the zodiac; it is one of the very archetypes of Here and Now awareness. With Mars being such a runaway factor right now, it will be useful to apply some intelligence to it.
I know, and have known, a lot of Virgos. I have been studying them carefully. Most of them pin the meters on the theme of self-criticism; they are nearly always amplified on the theme into the red part of the meter, and have a talent for it like few others. All seem to be in the process of learning how to relax, forgive themselves and let it all be, and when they get to this stage they are invariably happier.
Other factors bestow Virgo factors. A small ocean of Planet Waves readers have Pluto and Uranus in Virgo, making them somewhat more than honorary members of this tribe. A good few more have just Pluto in this sign. If this does not include us personally, we all know many people with these placements, so Virgo is an archetype that we all have to relate to in a significant way.
Virgo is also the sign of the Goddess, of the Earth herself, and of women in general. Mars entering this sign is something of the ultimate metaphor of penetration. The symbol, and the message are direct.
Yet people, in our well cultivated tendency to be mental, tend to take Virgo on the psychological rather than physical level. Analysis is one of the great skills of Virgo, indeed, something of an obsession. Mars will sear the idea of desire through the soft circuitry of this sign, and strive to make it fully conscious and seen in its elemental parts.
Mars begins as a hormonal impulse, and then in Virgo releases its energy through the female psyche, body and emotional sphere. There is work to be done, accepting this energy. As Simone de Beauvoire explained last week, women are raised to have their desire nature turned against them, and are then conquered as a result. I believe this holds true equally for men, in the sense that desire is at once encouraged and then forbidden by nearly every social convention that seeks to define propriety or fidelity. This creates an apparently weak or divided character.
Mars in Virgo is an opportunity to feel and experience the true nature of desire, in mind and body, as a conscious factor. This is a hot transit, at once corporeal and intellectual; tangible and abstract. The pitch to which the current version of human beings are strung will likely produce a result on the mental level first, which we will need, using consciousness, to bring into and through the emotional and physical.
Mars, the primal force for sexual desire, conquest, and — as the ruler of Aries, the initiator of existence itself — will push us to explore the nexus, stretch the membranes that seemingly divide the levels, and to infuse all of the levels with the positive life force energy of the will to live, procreate, express and affirm existence.
We have a potential challenge, and an extremely fun one, about how precise we can be about what we want. Try putting it into language. Try stating what you want to yourself in terms so descriptive and stark you feel a little shocked at yourself. Note where self-criticism comes to the surface of your mind or feelings: as judgment, denial, guilt, fear, embarrassment. See if you can stretch past these factors and continue to express yourself in vivid terms. There is often a question of whether Virgo “thinks it should exist,” and when we add Mars, this can push the question to the surface.
The experience can be one of teasing out the full dimensions of who you are, as a mental critter and as an animal. Appropriateness matters not at this point, only detailed, descriptive honesty with yourself.
Venus in Cancer trine Jupiter ensures that the experience will be nourishing and — at least at this stage — fairly easy.
There are likely to be intense but especially meaningful transitions where Mars aspects Virgo personal points, such as the Moon, Ascendant or Sun; or generational points (for those born between approximately 1959 and 1972) such as Uranus or Pluto. For many in the reading audience, Mars will oppose Chiron, bringing both of those energies to full expression.
This one is noteworthy because Mars is one of the rulers of Pisces (triplicity ruler) and Chiron is something of the honorary modern ruler of Virgo, which will place the two points in mutual reception. This presents an option; the ability to switch-hit; a choice in any matter of growth or expression of the energy.
The Sun is void of course from now through very late Saturday in many time zones, which is a door to the unusual, the unlikely and the impossible. The Moon is in Gemini through mid-day Saturday and in Cancer through the rest of the weekend, where it will conjoin Venus, trine Uranus, trine Jupiter, conjoin Mercury and then head into Leo for the New Moon early next week.
Planet Waves Weekly by Eric Francis
No. 620 – Friday, July 21, 2006
Happy Birthday Cancer!
Venus entering your sign at your solar return promises some of the best that life has to offer. It would be wise of you to rise above any lingering self-doubt or concern about what you cannot see and feel and receive some of what is coming in your direction.
Receiving really is the key — despite desire. Activity of Mars the past few weeks and even as it transits into Virgo is providing you plenty of information about what you want. But Venus is, to begin with, providing you what you really need the most, which is not a bad place to start. But the message is to take it in; to allow life’s nutrients to come your way; and to consciously accept them.
From a place of having your basic needs covered, so much more is possible. An edge of desperation always has a way of pushing away true abundance, and distracting us from the sources of love and nourishment. However, you’ll need to strike a balance between some extremely strong opinions (Mars on the cusp of Virgo, or in Virgo) and the gentler quality of Venus in Cancer. You could apply a fairly basic, tried and true formula: keep your desires in mind, but do it gently. You don’t need to act, but rather, be aware, so you will know your opportunities when you see them.
The late crop of Cancer birthdays are the last and latest to have experienced Saturn conjunct the Sun. Anyone who has experienced this consciously knows the sense of restriction that comes with it, and you may be feeling like you’re still carrying around some of that. Saturn in early Leo has, as well, potentially created a narrowing of your cash flow, but what you’re really doing is building your long-term stability. This is the most basic astrology: learning how to apply Saturn for constructive use.
While Mercury retrograde in your sign has been serving to push many of your doubts to the surface, this, too, is an opportunity for a close review of your affairs, including the way you process information. What would be helpful is if you continued to do just that — keep the information moving; continue to make observations about yourself and your environment; and keep working for a measure of true self-sufficiency.
The current astrological picture, enshrined in your solar chart, now represents a gradual, steady working out of the most important matters of your life, many of which do appear to involve financial situations. By the time of the New Moon in Leo next week, followed by Mercury stationing direct a few days later, I trust you’ll see the situation is a lot more optimistic than you’re seeing it today.
Venus is pretty much the key, particularly as she makes trines to Jupiter in Scorpio and then Uranus in Pisces. But the thing with trines is we very much have to work our talents. Trines require discipline and motivation, which is best practiced as a daily exercise. If you can do that, you can work the formula, “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”
This will apply to your personal situations as well. Saturn is the planet that rules your opposite sign, Capricorn, which in our form of astrology tells the story of your relationships. Right now, your experiences with others are your most precious asset. You may feel that certain people and your commitments to them restrict the flow of existence, experience, resources, sex energy, life force or emotions — but I assure you that this is only part of the story.
You are actually being offered situations that are stable and dependable, and which provide a conduit for your energy — and after so many changes, you’ll come to appreciate this greatly in time.
Just as beautiful is what you have to offer back to life. Where Venus is present, the potential for exchange with the people is greater, and what is exchanged is the real thing. With the planet of abundance and contentment in Cancer, the sign of comfort and nourishment, and you are free to respond to your greater tendency to give rather than to receive. Just make sure you train yourself to take in life what life is offering you, because it’s offering you just what you need.
Aries (March 20-April 19)
The equation of what it takes a person to feel safe in life is always complex, and right now for you it involves having sufficient space to yourself, some room to explore your most private thoughts in peace. Friends are important, but there is only so much of their support and companionship you need. There may be something scary about seeking a very deep place in yourself, but I suggest you move through it and go to the next level down. What you will find precisely is safety and emotional clarity on a level you may not have experienced for a long time, which can, if you let it, shift your relationship to existence enough to make a genuine difference in the long run.
Taurus (April 19-May 20)
With Venus changing signs this week, you’re invited to be more connected to your senses and, and to a space where you may live a little more slowly. You’re not usually one to get lost in thought, but the past few weeks of Venus in Gemini have given you plenty to think about. In particular, a recent turn of events has left you wondering whether you really should be involved in a certain personal situation, but a likely source of confusion has been drawing certain mental conclusions that don’t add up with what your emotions and body are telling you.
Gemini (May 20-June 21)
Keep a close eye on financial matters this week, advice which may perhaps seem obvious but is still worth stating out loud. You need, however, to avoid finalizing a certain business arrangement until you’re confident that you’re getting a fair deal. In fact there is no rush, and there appears to be plenty unresolved. If you’re in doubt, then wait until you have the information or confidence you need to move forward. The situation has potential greater than you now imagine, and if you bide your time and think from the shrewd corner of your mind, you stand to profit substantially.
Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You may not be able to see the silver lining, but it’s there, waiting for you to notice. Part of what will resolve your rather mixed emotions is pausing and having some respect for the past: your past, in particular, and remembering all you went through to get to this place in your life. You now have ample evidence that slow, steady progress is an excellent way to embrace your long-range plans. Before today, you may have lacked such evidence, but you cannot claim that today. In any event, the rewards for living in harmony with your purpose are not always what we think, but they do come.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23)
It’s essential that you not exaggerate a certain emotional situation, because you could upset a delicate balance if you do so. Something is in the process of working itself out, and in the meantime you may feel backed into a corner or forced to adhere to a certain ideology. In a sense, this is true, but you would feel better if you looked carefully for the second option in the situation and consider both of them fairly. Meanwhile, feel your feelings and stand back long enough to realize that everyone’s fears are unfounded — particularly your own. Many other people base how they feel on how you feel. So stay on top of this one.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
This has not been an easy stretch. Much of what you’ve been sorting out is what is true and what is not; who to believe and who to ignore; and many questions about what you want versus what you think you want. None of these are simple equations, particularly with so much emotion making your mind feel soggy on a bad day and at times a bit foggy on the good ones. Events of this week, while surprising, will at least demonstrate that the worst of your fears are not true, so you may as well take a chance and live that way now. In the meantime, see if you can suspend your doubts about a particular friendship for long enough to let the benefits become apparent.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23)
Unexpected developments in your professional life are demanding your immediate attention, and deserve as much as you can offer up. At this point you may seem to have very little influence over the course of events, but a disproportionately high level of responsibility for what happens. If the plot feels like a cliffhanger today, you’ll feel more confident tomorrow. But be aware that this week’s breakthrough will require at least a month more of care and feeding before it can stand on its own, so prepare to devote yourself every day for at least that long.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22)
You may feel the need to make increasing demands on your friends — just make sure they’re actually your friends. Odd as it may sound, while you know you’re acting in integrity, others may not agree for the moment, and only time will prove you right. Till then, depend on people you know bear no resentment toward you, and who don’t waste your time doubting your intentions. Secretly, you’re investing substantial energy into questioning yourself, and you’re far more scrupulous than others may imagine. That’s their problem, not yours.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22)
You’re hardly in the same situation you were in one month ago, but you would be wise to account for precisely what has changed. You’ve definitely turned a corner, come a long distance and had many of your assumptions pleasantly turned on their ass. You’re no worse for the wear, and even if you may feel your options are limited, you know exactly what they are. As for the past few weeks, what was all the stress? I’ll tell you — a simple quest for truth. Amazing how difficult that can be these days, and how satisfying.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20)
Certain people seem to be trying your patience, acting like they have half the maturity you expect. But this is a form of stubbornness that can only go so far, and is bound to run its course sooner rather than later. What I propose you do is very gently hold certain key individuals to the commitments and agreements that they have made, no more, no less. This is not about anyone’s expectations; rather, it’s about making sure that everyone lives up to their part in what is, in truth, an honest and equitable situation.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19)
You’re slowly conjuring new ideas about what is fair, though I suggest you back off on the idea that somebody owes you something. You may very well deserve it, but this is something that the other person has to figure out on their own, so that it’s a debt freely repaid, not coerced or accomplished through guilt of any shade. Anyway, certain developments that take place in the next few days are offering you more than you could ever want, so you have the perfect opportunity to bide your time.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
A creative breakthrough is in the air, something genuinely original and newborn that is both clearly your own brainwork; yet you’re likely to be shocked at how intelligent it is. That’s a Pisces for you. What you’re seeing is that necessity is not only the mother of intention, it’s the place we’re most likely to allow a miracle to come through the skylight of reality. Even if you see no solution, persist slowly, gently and with a measure of trust. Meanwhile, you can keep underestimating yourself and your awesome capabilities — or you can give all your limits a good push. Both will get you the same place.