Dear Friend and Reader:
Significant objects and points have been filing into Virgo this past week — all in preparation for the Virgo New Moon on Friday. This Virgo lineup would already carry a strong message of integration, on its own. But at the time of the New Moon, these objects will all be opposite Neptune (and Nessus) in Pisces, which brings in a related theme: dependency (such as on substances) and co-dependency (in relationships).
We have a significant — though largely unspoken — issue with alcohol in Western culture, and particularly in the U.S. Consider how much socializing centers on so-called happy hours at bars; the whole “rosé all day” catchphrase that’s become a lifestyle trend; how dependent college hookup culture is on substance use (in place of actual dating and vulnerability) and the ways it complicates consent; previously somber major holidays becoming excuses for drinking beer all day.
And so on. I’m not even a teetotaler — I enjoy a drink here or there. But I’m acutely aware of how many craft breweries, artisanal distilleries and related businesses have turned my town — and especially my neighborhood — into more than just a foodie destination. We have booze tourism on a scale I did not see just several years ago. When I meet someone who questions these social patterns or opts out entirely, it’s noticeable for its unusualness.
Yet what really intrigues me right now is the way that smartphones and social media have seemingly emerged as ‘the new booze’ — though not in replacement of it. More as an adjunct, or as yet another layer of removal from real connection: to one’s inner reality, and to that of other people.
In a 2016 YouTube video, motivational speaker and organizational consultant Simon Sinek outlines the ways that our current digital media offers the same dopamine hits that alcohol and gambling do: we get a little hormonal rush of feel-good chemicals with each text, “like,” notification, follower, and so on, through social media and our little pocket computers. Dopamine is released when we achieve goals; it’s also released when we experience instant gratification.
Cocaine, alcohol, nicotine — these things all send dopamine surging into our systems.
Turns out we experience the same instant gratification — and little bursts of dopamine — when we see a text reply, or get comments on a post. We all just want to know that others like us and value us, and these notifications appear to offer evidence of that.
Sinek, in his video, speaks about this specifically in terms of how the Millennial generation has grown up with technology in the U.S., and how the technology is part of a puzzle that has contributed to difficulties in forming meaningful relationships, in finding the patience and resiliency to grow into fulfilling careers, and in handling stress. Here’s the thing: it’s not just happening to Millennials. Everyone using this technology is experiencing some degree of dopamine addiction or dependency these days.
I’d say it’s virtually impossible not to. I still don’t have a smartphone, but I’m aware of how alluring — and maddening and numbing — Facebook is in my life, and how it’s changed my behavior. I hate how easy it is for me to get a little dependent on scrolling through my feed; checking “likes” on my posts; checking the notifications for comments on threads.
I hardly ever call people out of the blue anymore to make plans, and even email is almost passé for event invitations. So many of my interactions are mediated by social media — and I’m actively involved in such in-person, collaborative, physically social activities as theater and dance. What about people who aren’t?
Arguably, the main difference between young people growing up with digital technology and older generations is that those who pre-date Millennials at least have some memory of how life functioned previously. More importantly, we may retain some of the psychic and social muscles that we previously used more vigorously in navigating stress — whether that be stress created by crisis or fear, or the kind generated by pursuing a goal or desire. But they may be atrophying.
Are you still willing to exercise those muscles? Are you willing to endure the mental discomfort that can accompany facing yourself (much less facing others) without constant little dopamine bursts from social media — or from alcohol?
What does it mean to choose actively the processes of inner integration suggested by this week’s Virgo-heavy astrology in the face of Neptune (illusion, substance dependency), and in the context of our Eris-in-Aries era of identity fragmentation?
When the Sun and Moon finally make their conjunction at 6:37 am EDT (10:37:01 UTC) this Friday, these are the objects and points that will occupy the first 12 degrees of Virgo: Mercury, Transpluto (a hypothetical point), asteroid Juno, the Sun and Moon, Mars and Venus. That’s not even including some other minor objects that are helping to color in this picture. Yet we still get symbols of mind, consciousness, the unconscious, and three different signifiers of relationship dynamics in that cluster.
Over the course of this week, you might ask yourself what roles dependency (whether on technology, substances, or something else), or co-dependency (a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility or under-achievement — maybe mutually) have in your life. How well do you see your own wholeness, or even just your various facets?
How much would you like to?
Yours & truly,
Daily Birthday Readings from Planet Waves
Sunday, August 25, 2019 (The Day of the Unabashed Extrovert)
If you discover that you’re struggling a little with demands on your spare time, it may help you to take a firmer hand in organizing it. Make sure you have enough room to relax and to feed your soul, as well as enjoying your friendships and social engagements. Most people need some kind of balance between introverted and extraverted activities; look for the one that’s suitable for you, and also offers you an ongoing enrichment of heart and mind.
Monday, August 26, 2019 (The Day of the Supportive Partner)
What do you think of when you imagine your ideal social group? It’s true that you have certain goals in mind, and would most likely benefit from support among your peers. Without forming a comic-style superhero troupe, is there anything you feel you specifically need from your friendships? If so, this could be found by venturing into some unfamiliar places, where you’re likely to find new people. Alternatively, perhaps the qualities you seek are actually within yourself.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019 (The Day of Social Ideals)
Everyone has something unique to bring to the world, and that certainly includes you. Just now you have an opportunity to offer these personal gifts more openly. This might not seem easy, especially at first; it may involve confronting some early conditioning. Yet in truth the freedom to be oneself is a necessity, rather than an option. When confined, it is human nature to try and break away. Therefore, cherish that spirit of liberty within you, and take courage.
Wednesday, August 28, 2019 (The Day of Language)
You could well cover a lot of ground in the months ahead with regard to your emotional healing. The main thing to bear in mind, perhaps, is that safeguarding your wellbeing and promoting your own happiness are not only reasonable but important practices. Stay in touch with your intuition, and pay attention to your dreams. Don’t fight down aspirations, or even flights of fancy; instead, follow them along the winding tracks of your mind and take note of the places where you land.
Thursday, August 29, 2019 (The Day of Structured Action)
It would appear you’re approaching a turning point in your personal journey, which involves you learning to understand yourself possibly more thoroughly than ever before. Part of this might relate to accepting facets of yourself you’ve potentially avoided acknowledging in the past. The experience may feel like an initiation, or a moment of sudden enlightenment; regardless, it’s thanks to groundwork you’ve laid assiduously paying off. Don’t forget to honor yourself duly for your efforts.
Friday, August 30, 2019 (The Day of the Rock)
Your birthday this year is accompanied by a rare New Moon, which denotes a new level of emotional maturity, and possibly an unprecedented sense of completeness within yourself. This is an achievement well worth celebrating with relish. It means you’ve come a step closer to perfecting that art which many people need a long time to master: that is, getting out of your own way. Now you have a much clearer path to your goals, and can move at greater speed.
Saturday, August 31, 2019 (The Day of the Public Appearance)
Have patience with yourself when it comes to fulfilling your aims. You may be progressing faster than you realize, and to some extent at least this is a slow and steady kind of game. Gradually, you’re bringing to life a concept that is unique and meaningful, from within the fundamental depths of your being, and thus a part of you. Be careful not to underestimate its significance, and grant yourself whatever time, resources or permissions you feel are needed.
Sunday, September 1, 2019 (The Day of No Nonsense)
When you consider your strengths and abilities, do you acknowledge their entire worth, or do you tend to join those who underestimate themselves? This year, there is an opening for you to count yourself in fully as a valued participant in society. You are already cherished more than you know by friends and loved ones. Your charts are calling you to step forward and offer your views, your ideas and your works, and to let go any shyness or reticence. The spotlight awaits.
— By Amy Elliott
Monday Morning Horoscope #191 for August 26, 2019 | By Eric Francis Coppolino
Aries (March 20-April 19) — You have many facets to your nature, and you’re in a position to experience several of them now. Yet where you look, where you seek your information, and which experiences you explore, all matter. The region of your life to search for understanding is the everyday, rather than the unusual. Therefore, you need only look right where you are, not the past, not the future, and not some remote location or concept of your life. What do you actually do? What do you like doing? Most significantly, your astrology is asking the question: whom do you serve? Bob Dylan was right: you gotta serve somebody. And you’re tied into the karma of whoever, or whatever that is; whatever purpose that is. So what you’re really asking yourself is why. Notably, this is not a question you can pose to any other person and get a relevant answer. You can only ask yourself.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — From every angle, your astrology is calling on you to burst free: of your routines, of your ideas, of your ideologies, and of your expectations. While you’re at it, set yourself free from the scourge of seriousness. It’s not that life is but a joke, but rather you must approach the conditions of your own growth, and the circumstances of the world, with a light heart. Heaviness is not going to get you anywhere right now, and as Robert Anton Wilson taught us, convictions make convicts. So take it light, and use a creative approach to your own existence. You can afford to take some chance you might not ordinarily take, meaning allowing yourself to use a creative approach to a problem. The truth or idea you seek exceeds concepts. Nobody could write a song with all the music theory in the world (and nothing else). Anyone could write one without it.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — Monitor your anxiety level as the next week or two proceed. Notice what in your environment provokes you, and then see if you can figure out why it’s irrelevant; why the problem is about something else. Notice whether what you’re experiencing is mental or emotional. Notice whether you feel better alone or with others, or if this varies from situation to situation. Drink more water and see how you feel then. You will need to keep experimenting under the astrology you’re going through, which includes asking the same question many different ways till it lends itself to some kind of interesting answer. It would seem, though, that the most pressing issue is: what are you trying to resolve? Directly related is, what do you need to clear out of your way? This also includes asking yourself about who does, and who does not, belong in your environment.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Make every effort to get along with your neighbors. Perhaps you already do, though you can be (or seem) self-absorbed at times, and give the impression that you don’t care. The way to demonstrate that others make a difference is to engage in communication about the details of life, the small things that rarely seem to matter, and most of all, ideas. You have a brilliant analytical mind, though one potential problem you face at the moment is going down the wormhole of minutiae, rather than seeing the clean, elegant lines of concepts. Practice translating your thoughts and feelings into a form that others can understand. You may be overwhelmed with mental activity, or data coming in so fast you cannot handle it. The tool you will want to use is pattern recognition. Rather than analyze every single detail, look for topics and ideas, and the shapes that they form. When in doubt, listen to music, preferably instrumental.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Your life at this time is all about your priorities. What is really important to you? This is the most obvious question in life, and one that is too rarely asked. Yet it’s the only question at the moment, subordinating all others. This may require some sorting out. When doing that, it helps to have a guiding principle, which would best be: what is it that harms you, and what is it that helps you? What about your existence is beneficial to others, and what is not? The answers will be pretty simple, when you’re onto them. Despite appearances, there will not be a lot of layers to your result; and you’re experienced enough to know what is helpful. However, when you come across something that is a temporary expedient, put it in a special category. Those are potential traps, because they might seem beneficial in the short run, but will not be over the course of time.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — We are now experiencing one of the most impressive Virgo alignments in many years. A New Moon is approaching consisting of the Moon and Sun joined by Mercury, a Chiron-like point called Transpluto, plus Venus, Mars and asteroid Juno. Here is the question: do you live your life in pieces, or do you live as one being? Are there some circumstances where aspects of you are not welcome, and others where they are? There is a virtue to being who you are, all the time. Sure, presentation matters. You will probably want to wear a black tie for the black tie dinner. But you’re still yourself, despite the circumstances, setting or costume called for. While “whether to be real” is often cast as a matter open to debate, ultimately, you cannot be anyone other than yourself, so the real question is, why try? Well, you might not feel like you know what to say or what to do. And being real might feel like jumping off a cliff. But you’ll still be standing right where you are.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Planets are gathered in a place called your 12th solar house — Virgo. Even if you know your rising sign and it’s not Libra, you want to know about this; you want to track your solar chart (and this also serves, if Libra is your rising sign). This may feel like a whole lot of pressure, as if the room you’re in were being submerged under an ocean or a lake. Everything is dry, but your ears experience the compression. It might be difficult to sleep, since your environment doesn’t seem the same as it usually does. You could feel there is some vast mystery at the center of your life, to which you are somehow not privy. The answer to these mysteries is found by turning your awareness inward. Listen to yourself, which means to your dreams, and follow the winding thread of your imagination. There may appear to be too much to track, though this is an illusion. I suggest starting with the notion that there is one thing you need to know, which will reveal itself in an odd and unexpected place and time.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — The first politician I ever worked for was a guy named Bob Hayden, of Buffalo, NY. That’s a good story in itself but I always recall one thing he said on the way to an event: stay three drinks behind the crowd. Now, I rarely drink in public but I love the strategic wisdom of that idea. You can apply it to more than alcohol. You’re in a position where you can move around certain social circles that may usually be sealed off from access. If you find yourself there, make sure you listen. Speak only enough to get people talking. Be yourself; that’s disarming. If you get cocktail sauce on your blouse, just continue the conversation and let the dry cleaner take care of it. If you have to exchange information with someone, scribble on a napkin or scrap of paper; leave your phone in the car. And as I was saying, your phone — leave it in the car.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — You have a lot of goals; a lot of things you want to do; many more things you’re capable of. You may not know what to choose. You may be feeling whelmed or overwhelmed or maybe a little underwhelmed. Anyway, your options are not on the internet. They are in real life, with real people, who have eyes that you can see and a voice you can hear and you may be able to smell their cologne or perfume or breath. When you shake their hand, it will be warm or cool or sweaty or dry; it may be limp or they may squeeze you. At this time, though, I suggest you follow what I consider to be my first rule of investigative journalism: let your assignments choose you. This is not about taking a passive role. It’s about being receptive and attractive. You will know when the right person, thing, idea, or opportunity knocks on your door. It will mysteriously sound like a bell.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You cannot really plan the future. But you can look in its direction; you can consider the possibilities; you can set some wide goals for yourself. Most of all, you can describe your vision. This is a personal exercise, not for publication; do not click “share” and do not expect anyone to click “like.” In fact, keep it out of digital form, unless it’s a voice memo to yourself. There is a lot in your life that is changing. There is a lot that seems to be caving in, giving way, or yielding to the presence of time. That is going to create space and bandwidth you can use. So while you’re going through all this Saturn conjunct Pluto stuff, and I know there is plenty, invest yourself in imagining what is possible. First, do this in a few broad strokes, and then fill in the details. Use pencil, so you can erase any mistakes, but first look at whatever you put onto the paper. Today it may seem like a doodle. In a few weeks, you will see the shapes and the patterns; you will get the message.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Our lives are about what we exchange. That means being willing to offer yourself, and being willing to receive others. Often exchange seems to be about things of value, though really, a material object of any kind is a token of one’s self. So keep it on that level. It does seem that the real crisis is about receiving what is freely offered. Many people who are the “taker” kind struggle to accept what is offered with kindness. Others who are the “giver” kind have a difficult time receiving what is sent their way out of generosity. Here’s one clue though: once given, the destiny of a gift is no longer in the purview of the giver. Nobody should ask, “How do you like it?” We have all heard the phrase “forgive and forget.” I would say, give and forget — though more to the point, receive, and remember.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Planets and the Sun have gathered in your opposite sign Virgo. Note the ways your total environment is changing as this happens. Circumstances are presenting you with options. You’re being reminded that you are not as isolated as you’ve felt under the long influence of Neptune in your sign. And it seems as if people are coming to you rather than you having to go to them. Yet Neptune presents a vulnerability and an opening that can be exploited. So pay attention to what you see, feel, say, do and most of all hear. I suggest you make no commitments merely by way of the internet, but rather keep your contacts solid and on the physical plane. And while Neptune presents an opening that others may be able to exploit, it also presents aggressors with a hazard. Be aware that the floor is slippery around you, and that you have the ability to shape-shift or even disappear if you need to. Use these powers judiciously; accept and embrace that you carry some true protection.