Venus Retrograde in Aries: Waking Life

“The dreamer is banished to obscurity. Well, I’m trying to change all that, and I hope you are too. By dreaming, every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it’s ever faced, ever. So whatever you do, don’t be bored; this is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.”

— The Man on the Train, Waking Life

Dear Friend and Reader:

A few weeks after the 9/11 incident, an animated film called Waking Life was released to the public. You might think of it as a synchronous souvenir of the moment when things got really weird: when the nature of existence shifted, and a split occurred. The main aspect of the time was Saturn in Gemini (parallel realities) confronted by Pluto in Sagittarius (a belief bomb), all magnified by the Great Attractor (and directly connected to the U.S. birth chart).

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

That split was best described at the time by “Bush’s brain,” Karl Rove, who told a New York Times reporter, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”

Waking Life follows a young man portrayed by Wiley Wiggins, who goes through existence awakening from one dream to the next. He begins to question whether he’s awake and alive, or asleep and dreaming. As he does, he meets a series of individuals who provide him with different ideas about the meaning of life. If you’ve ever been interested in existential philosophy, this film is an excellent introduction.

The film was acted live and shot in High-8 video, an ordinary consumer format. Then its scenes were split up and each given to a different team of animators who gave their segment of the movie a different feeling and effect using an old technique called Rotoscope. The visual styles are constantly changing, which gently induces a dream-like state in the viewer. Sometimes the visuals are loose, with everything sliding around. Sometimes the scene is trim and tidy, with clean edges and seeming to be real.

Many philosophies have questioned whether all of consciousness is a form of a trance. There’s a model of consciousness that proposes that all we do is go from one trance to another, as if everything is a dream. But the idea of trance or dream is meaningless without some corresponding notion of being awake and alert.

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

This reminds me of our current astrology. We seem to be moving from one dream to the next, with clusters of planets in Pisces and Aries influencing one another. Pisces, with the Sun and Mercury conjunct Neptune, seems to be the environment of the dream.

Aries, with its self-assertiveness, would seem to be the environment of ‘actual’ reality. It is the ‘I am’ to the ‘I believe’ of Pisces. Yet the two are playing off of one another, feeding one another, and are morphing back and forth. What is identity but a set of beliefs? What is the dream, except evidence of the dreamer’s actual life?

Venus retrograde, which begins Saturday and ends April 15, involves the repeated movement of that planet between Aries and Pisces. Another interesting bit is that Venus, the ruling planet of Libra, is in its opposite sign Aries. So this brings in the theme of projection in relationships (covered in the Libra Book of Your Life reading, called “The True Mirror”).

Anything happening in Aries calls attention to Uranus conjunct Eris in Aries, which will be exact for the third and last time in this cycle on March 17 (the conjunction after that happens about a century from now). Though Karl Rove was not directly referencing this, the “alternate reality” that was emerging in 2001 was the internet.

I think of the ‘net as a low astral plane, one that’s morphed with physical reality such that we can dial it in with a device like a portable phone or game console. It follows some of the rules of the astral plane (it’s ephemeral, polarized, nonlocal, chilly, and constantly changing). It also follows some rules of physical reality (tracking physical location, leaving a time stamp on anything and subject to documentation).

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

This blend of some physical properties and some dream properties is extremely destabilizing to consciousness — mainly by separating us from our bodies. It’s exciting if you’re an explorer or pioneer of dreams.

As with bardo (the between-lifetimes state documented in the Tibetan Book of the Dead), it’s easy to lose your way or lose yourself in this maze. It’s possible to be deceived, and to deceive yourself — and as a result, you can create plenty of karma. In other words, what you say and do on the internet counts. Yes, it’s easy to delete people, or to treat them badly, or to do things you would not normally do in physical space, and seem to get a pass. You can encounter things that are not true and act on them; it’s possible to lie casually. All of this counts as much as physical action, the more so for potentially influencing many people.

The main effect, though, is the paradox of Wiley Wiggins in Waking Life: it’s no longer so easy to discern what is a dream and what is real. Maybe this means everything is a dream; maybe it means everything is real; maybe it means we must bring plenty of discernment to our process of living, and do what we can to sort out the difference.

You might think of Venus in Aries as the self you project onto the internet. It has a touch of glamour (a lot or a little), which comes through in the nonstop PR campaign that most people wage online. The presentation can differ radically from circumstance to circumstance, and it’s rare that these differences are reconciled.

Your internet avatar does not feel anything; you have to do that. It’s mostly (or entirely) concerned with itself. You have to consciously bring the greater awareness of a world around us, of a shared and mutual environment.

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

As an astrological placement (such as in a natal chart), Venus in Aries asks the question: who responds to whose feelings? Venus in Aries seems to presume as a point of origin that the world will do all of the responding.

Over time, Venus in Aries learns that at best we need to be mutually responsive and mutually aware; otherwise we face the prospect of seemingly impenetrable loneliness. Said another way, much of the satisfaction of relationships comes from being responsive to the lives of the people you care about. I recognize that it’s possible to overdo this, and that balance is necessary, though I’m talking about a particular emotional state. If you find a sick kitten and nurse it back to health, you will share a bond thanks to that gesture.

Venus in Aries has to work extra hard to understand where people are coming from — and it’s worth the effort. Venus in Aries also benefits from telling people where it’s coming from, so that others don’t have to guess. Those are big variables, and a lot can go wrong if they’re not accounted for. Guessing and lack of understanding of feelings can make communication difficult and erode trust. Alternately, sharing of feelings and of one’s personal reality can build trust and understanding.

When a planet stations retrograde, its condition changes, and it’s experienced differently in consciousness. It becomes prominent; we notice its existence in a new way. Whatever that planet represents might become a question rather than a statement. Retrograde references inner reality rather than outer; it references the past rather than the present; and it can exist within a bubble of alternate ‘reality’.

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

The theme of our lives these days seems to be about bursting our personal reality bubbles so that we can join consciousness with other beings. Some of this is being egged on by our imposter POTUS, but he’s not the common ‘enemy’. Rather, the lack of awareness is. Persistent lack of awareness and active denial are driving our whole environment into a toxic state.

Try to bring up global warming and someone will invariably say, as if on cue, that it’s not real. That is a seemingly competing reality. Even if you know that person is full of shit, you are still put into a position to defend or affirm your version of events. There are many examples of this, and it’s dividing households and relationships; indeed, our entire society.

The story of this retrograde is that over the next few weeks, Venus approaches the Aries Point. The most individualistic and self-centered sign includes, in its very first degree, an opening to the wide collective. This makes sense, given that it’s right at that spot where all-inclusive Pisces meets all-exclusive Aries.

Venus reaches this spot on April 2, though as it approaches, there will be a gradual accumulation of the Aries Point effect of individual reality converging with collective reality. It’s like the two sides of this imaginary equation press up against one another with more intensity as Venus approaches the very beginning of Aries. Then Venus slips backwards into her oceanic origins in Pisces. There, Venus experiences the qualities of true empathy, shared experience and a kind of mutual dream. Yet Venus will still be retrograde; that is, inwardly-facing, tuned to inner reality.

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

You might say that the central question of Venus retrograde in Pisces is, “How do I actually feel, beneath this image that I project?”

Then as the retrograde comes to a close in mid-April, something distinctive and truly interesting happens. Here in these last seasons of Chiron in Pisces, Venus ends its retrograde in an exact conjunction with Chiron. Venus conjunct Chiron is like an orgasmic fusion with the cosmos — particularly in Pisces. It’s interesting and beautiful under any circumstances; it can also be poignant and involve the pain of awakening to feelings (and to all those feelings that were denied).

To me this reads like a moment of awakening to the reality of one’s own feelings simultaneously with the feelings of everyone around you. It’s a moment of individual awakening to collective consciousness. That’s a fancy way of saying something like ‘figuring out what your loved ones feel’ or ‘noticing that you’re not alone’ or discovering that we’re all in this together.

To get there, we’re going to need to sort through the more toxic forms of ego identity that have taken hold of consciousness in the past generation. That will require seeing the PR thing for what it is, and doing what any truly awake famous person has to do: know the difference between the press release and reality.

Still from “Waking Life,” directed by Richard Linklater.

Nothing says Eros or sexual reality like Venus conjunct Chiron in Pisces, and this is a good place to focus your attention, at least for part of this journey. The sexual realm is one of the spaces most intensely subject to a split between fantasy, reality, and what is projected outward to one’s peers.

Venus making an extended conjunction to Chiron is about threading the needles of these seemingly different things. This includes being honest about your own feelings and your own desire for healing, for pleasure and for communion with others. This calls for honesty and transparency. Perhaps stop guessing what you’re feeling, and expecting others to guess.

You can start this process by questioning what you project into the world; ask yourself what you’re revealing in any statement you make, and what you’re concealing by that statement. The same is true for photos: what is the reality behind the image? This is one short step away from questioning denial, which starts with the recognition that denial in fact exists as a mental and emotional state.

Like all forms of fraud, denial is inherently self-concealing. Like all forms of seeking truth, devotion to reality is self-revealing. Speak your truth. You will be genuinely interested in what you have to say, and that will make you much more interesting to others.

With love,

Short Monthly Horoscope for March 2017, #1141 | By Eric Francis

Aries (March 20-April 19) — There’s an old expression about not judging a person until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins. You have the rare opportunity to do just that — experience the world from the viewpoint of a significant other. Part of that includes how they experience you. You might find that, as a result of this, you make some adjustments to your personality or to how you treat the people around you. Two changes would help: you can afford to listen more attentively, and you can afford to be more generous emotionally and financially. Open up and deepen your intimacy.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You’re in a time of deep self-discovery. The implication of that is doing something bold, which is standing in the face of the unknown. Leave yourself room for the mystery of yourself. You don’t have to rush in and answer every question you have about yourself. The more room you leave for the unknown, the more space you’ll have for discoveries as they come — and there will be many over the next few weeks. Admitting that you don’t know takes some courage, especially here in the age of quick, short, incorrect answers. You want the slower, longer, more meaningful ones.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — If being popular is really a thing, you’ve got it going on now. Though you might consider the wisdom of the old esoteric teachers: beware of any false presentation of yourself. You are safer for being honest and real with the people around you. Amidst all the competing effort for attention in the world is a struggle with self-esteem. Someone close to you may need your attention; he or she may be reluctant to reveal their true feelings, so you will need to be perceptive and ask. You can offer them some extra space to be themselves.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — This is a stellar moment for you professionally, though the best results will come in ways you’re not expecting and cannot foresee. Be open to the possibilities, while keeping busy doing what you do so well. Your solar chart describes you as a person who must pour yourself into your work with total commitment. You identify with what you do and what you create. You need to be known for your accomplishments. This is an asset in a world of people who don’t often like going to work. You deserve your good reputation, as long as you live up to it every day.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You seem unsure whether to have total confidence in your abilities, or to doubt yourself with the same devotion. There’s plenty of territory in between. True self-assurance is often informed by insecurity. You need to keep checking whether you’re on the right track, and whether your predictions or projections about the future are accurate. For example, review the budget of any project against the actual expenses on a regular basis. Make sure the content and tone of any message are correct for what you’re doing. As long as you navigate consciously, you will get where you’re going in excellent style.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Who are all these people in your life? Where did they come from? You seem to go from feeling invisible to being a beacon. However, you would be wise to exercise discretion over who gets close to you. Get to know people before you invite them into your life, particularly on a romantic or financial level. That means giving people a chance. Try to spend seven hours with someone before making up your mind about whether to proceed. Rather than being skeptical, the idea is to keep an open mind and allow people to reveal themselves. Use what you learn.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — It’s often said that relationships are mirrors, though that doesn’t factor in the phenomenon of the ‘mirror image’ — the reverse reflection. Others don’t see you that way; it’s a visual illusion. Now, however, you get to look into your relationships as what you might think of as a true mirror: one that shows you who you are, through their eyes. The first surprise you might have is that you seem to others very different from how you seem to yourself. The second surprise is that you’re likely to truly love and adore that unusual person being reflected to you. It’s about time.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You may be wondering whether a workplace romance is a good idea. It might be under other circumstances, though you need to be cautious of any situation that’s not convenient to walk away from. In whatever aspect of your life you may be considering, your agreements must be easy in, easy out. Still, you’re dealing with powerful forces of attraction. Many people will be noticing you, and responding openly. This gives you the power of choice. Err on the side of simplicity rather than of potential drama. You will still have plenty of fun.

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Focus on the art rather than the gallery opening; on the writing rather than the bestseller list; on the song rather than the concert. That is, substance is what matters most; how you present what you’ve created matters less, for now. Get the creative aspect of what you’re doing right. Put everything you’ve got into it. Fill it with your life energy.  The presentation will come naturally once your project or idea has enough momentum of its own. When the time comes to go public, which seems inevitable, you’ll want to get it right the first time.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — When you get a moment of clarity, you’ll be surprised how much you were missing. Once you know, you’ll benefit from paying attention to the emotional details that really matter. Your insecurities will inform you of where you have healing work to do. You have a right to feel grounded and secure. You’ve worked for it. Yet in this world, it’s necessary to maintain your sense of safety and self-preservation with constant vigilance, a little bit every day. Go easy on doubting yourself. You’re usually right, as long as you leave space and freedom to be wrong.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You present a serious, competent image to the world. People look at you and assume you’re intelligent. Then they hear what you have to say, and their hunch is confirmed. Therefore, you don’t need to impress anyone. And you have a pass to suggest things that might be a little offbeat — a little unusual or inventive — and be trusted. This trust is precious. Do your part to maintain it. Meet your commitments on time or a little early. The more you work within the accepted rules of society, the more creative and daring you can be.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — You will have some interesting financial opportunities this month. Yet be aware that you may not be working with full information. Therefore, you will need to maintain a practice of due diligence. Check the bona fides of anyone you’re doing business with. Nothing is as good as it looks, and everything is subject to change. Even given these facts, you will find some business possibilities that are genuinely appealing. Choose the ones that you resonate with intuitively. Choose what is truly meaningful to you, and work with those whom you can relate to on the human level. For a Pisces, this matters more than anything. 

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