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October 2015

I Think I Can: Jupiter in Virgo & Self-Efficacy

“I think I can, I think I can,” said The Little Engine That Could. This sweet sentiment about the power of believing in yourself gets a storybook train up a hill. A happy ending in a children’s book is one thing, but how does it measure up in real life? Can believing we will be successful actually assist in creating that success?

Self-efficacy is an idea researched and championed by psychologist Albert Bandura, and is defined as the extent to which a person believes in their own competence. A simplified version of this might be the saying “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Jupiter and Self-Efficacy Beliefs
In astrology, Jupiter is the cosmic YES. Jupiter deals in the currencies of hope, faith, optimism, enthusiasm, potential, expansion, and confidence. When we take a risk in hopes that it will lead to good things that we can only visualize, we call on Jupiter. Jupiter is the planet of luck, but it’s not always passive. Lucky people simply say yes to the Universe’s nudges more often. They open the door when opportunity knocks.

Jupiter’s location in our own chart can reveal some natural talents and even the ways in which we underestimate what we’re really capable of; it reveals how and where we need to say yes to ourselves and the Universe more often. Yes doesn’t always sound like “yes!” Sometimes it sounds like “maybe I can do this” or “what if?”

The astrological symbolism of the Jupiter principle is reflected in the power of positive self-efficacy beliefs. It turns out, when we think we can succeed, we may actually increase our chances of achieving that success.

How self-efficacy beliefs affect our success
One of the deciding factors in deciding to undertake a task or set a goal is whether or not we think we will succeed. We visualize scenarios in our minds in an effort to try and determine how likely our success is. If we have no hope of success, we won’t commit to something. These visualizations don’t determine whether we will be successful, but they illustrate whether we think we’ll be successful.

Yet, this is a critical step. Our self-efficacy beliefs matter so much because the visualizations we create can stem from our belief in our competence and in turn, our actions or inactions stem from these visualizations. People with high self-efficacy beliefs are more likely to envision successful scenarios whereas people with low self-efficacy beliefs tend to focus on visualizations which emphasize what may go wrong. “What’s the worst that could happen?” we may ask ourselves, and how we answer this question is a measure of self-efficacy.

People with high self-efficacy beliefs also tend to be more willing to undertake a challenging goal and persist in their efforts to overcome obstacles when striving for their goal because they have a strong belief in their own competence. They are more likely to bounce back more quickly from setbacks and self-doubts that setbacks may generate. People with low self-efficacy beliefs are less likely to undertake difficult tasks and are more likely to rate difficult tasks with higher levels of impossibility. They also don’t recover from setbacks as easily and lose faith in their capabilities more quickly, giving up before the task is accomplished or more readily accepting a moderate success (a consolation prize) in place of what they truly want.

Belief = Success?
Most of us realize that our own attitudes about ourselves have a strong effect on how we experience life. It’s important to realize that one’s belief about oneself doesn’t determine skill or guarantee success or failure objectively. A high level of self-confidence doesn’t create skill in the absence of training, experience, or some degree of natural talent, but our belief in ourselves and our own abilities can serve as a springboard for our motivations, which can lead to actions, which can lead to accomplishments. Self-efficacy beliefs affect thought patterns that may be self-aiding or self-hindering.

It is widely believed that misjudgment produces dysfunction. Certainly, gross miscalculation can create problems. However, optimistic self-appraisals of capability that are not unduly disparate from what is possible can be advantageous, whereas veridical judgments can be self limiting. When people err in their self-appraisals, they tend to overestimate their capabilities.

This is a benefit rather than a cognitive failing to be eradicated. If self-efficacy beliefs always reflected only what people could do routinely, they would rarely fail but they would not mount the extra effort needed to surpass their ordinary performances. –  Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory Bandura, Albert

If Indiana Jones didn’t think he could make it across the chasm in a leap of faith and take that risk, the holy grail might never have been found!

Jupiter in Virgo
Jupiter is traveling through the sign of Virgo from August 11, 2015 until September 9th, 2016. Grandiose Jupiter traveling through the humble sign of Virgo may seem like an ill fit, but in fact, this is an opportunity to grow in ways that are measurable, an invitation to increase our competence through efficient and consistent progress. Virgo has a great deal of respect for process and hard work. Jupiter in Virgo is where the rubber meets the road, where confidence and faith gain traction to actually create real results.

We can think of Jupiter as our cosmic life coach, encouraging us to reach for the stars, to try what we haven’t before, and brave that risk to make a potential, a dream, come true. In Virgo, Jupiter isn’t just a cheerleader; it has real homework for you. Where Virgo lies in your chart represents the area(s) of life where small, persistent steps will make all the difference over the next year. As astrologer Molly Hall says, “Jupiter in Virgo is a path of being happy when productive.  Some trust comes with this transit, that if there’s a regular investment in your work, the lucky breaks will come.

genius-is-1-inspiration-and

Enough is Not Quite Enough
With all the good things that a high level of self-efficacy seems to bring, it sounds like we would all be best served by embracing a delusional self-confidence. True, the location of this ‘gas giant’ can also reveal where we might just be full of hot air, so to speak. There are obviously problems that arise on the opposite end of the spectrum when we hugely overestimate our abilities, such as constantly promising what we can’t deliver and perpetually failing in that which we were sure we would succeed.

Our self-assessment is subjective, and a higher level of self-efficacy belief can serve to motivate and inspire us, making us more willing to stretch ourselves, try new things, and reach for our potential–all experiences that are at the heart of what Jupiter represents. Low self-efficacy beliefs actually discourage growth because we are reluctant to risk; we believe we will fail before we’ve even begun. Research seems to show that a level of self-efficacy which is just above our actual ability is optimal, because it pushes us to strive for the possible but without a delusion that we are superhuman. If you believe you can fly, strive for it! But don’t leap blindly off a building and literally expect wings to grow from your back. That’s a metaphor, folks. Jupiter in Virgo is not about inflated self-confidence but about the real ways we can turn our belief in ourselves into real action.

Apply it!
How high is your self-efficacy? How can you increase it? Here’s an interesting (non-scientific) quiz you can take to get the conversation with yourself started.

Where is Jupiter lighting up your chart? Share in the comments!

Don’t know where Jupiter is pushing you to fly? Create your free chart at astro.com


References:

There’s a lot more nuance to this idea of self-efficacy, including more precise definitions, what kinds of things our self-efficacy rating may be based on, and the difference between self-efficacy and just general self-confidence. Check out these sources to find out more:

What is Self-Efficacy? by Kendra Cherry

Self-Efficacy by Albert Bandura

Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory by Albert Bandura

Generalized Self-Efficacy (GSE) is differentiated from Bandura’s definition of Self-Efficacy. The former centers on the idea of general confidence in one’s abilities in a variety of situations, whereas Bandura’s definition is said to be situationally specific. See Measuring General Self-Efficacy.

Many beliefs are tied to our self-efficacy rating, such as our self-esteem, or how much control we believe we have over the events in our lives (locus of control). 

“I think I can” canvas art is created by and available from Red Bicycle Designs.

The resilience of our belief in our self-efficacy is what’s especially important. One can always get a shot of confidence in the arm, but those who tend toward high levels of belief in themselves over the long term tend to be able to persist where others give up.

It’s also important to realize that one’s self-efficacy beliefs can be influenced in a number of ways, not just by one’s own personal belief, but also by the positive reinforcement and encouragement we get from others. This is a reason why support groups can actually work.

Uranus Opposition – Start a Revolution

Rose McGowan
Rose McGowan

The headline reads Rose McGowan is Starting a Revolution.

Indeed. And right on time.

After tweeting a photo of casting notes which instructed her to wear form-fitting and revealing clothing for an audition, instructions she said were “par for the course,” she woke to find her tweet had gone viral. That and another tweet a week later admonishing her agency for dropping her had her drawing support and encouragement to “fight on” when it comes to misogyny and Hollywood.

This may only be one of many culminating points in an ongoing awakening for Rose, which began, according to her, in the late 2000s when a lot of “Lemony Snicket” events (referring to his ‘a series of unfortunate events’ books) had her “dismantling.” The illness and death of her father and a car accident were just two of the intense happenings that kicked off this growth period (right around the time Pluto squared her own Pluto–but that’s another story).

“In the last seven years, without being totally aware of what I was doing, I was completely disengaging and separating.”

Uranus

Uranus represents the rod to which we must hold if we want to navigate the tricky terrain of the ever-developing self when the external environment presses us to conform. Whether it’s a well-meaning parent’s advice, a cultural paradigm, or an authority figure’s judgment, we are always under subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) pressures to fit in.

This cannot be reduced to the simple desire to want others to like us; it is more primal and subconscious and the stakes are higher than they seem on the surface. To truly be an outcast can threaten our very survival and if we don’t play by the rules of the powers that be, we can perish by them and not just metaphorically. There may be good reasons why we ignore Uranus’ whispers, or translate them into safer, less threatening ways to display our individuality because of this.

Uranus represents the urge to live and express yourself authentically, whether the stakes are large or small. The struggle for authenticity and the stress we experience when sacrificing or embracing it is real, whether we mask our true nature to avoid bullying at school or become a whistle-blower afraid for our very life. Uranus in our natal chart represents where and in what ways we not only think outside the box, but we often refuse, sometimes vehemently, to be boxed in or defined.

Why do we dare to break the mold or risk being shunned as an outcast? Freedom. The burden of a secret, of a false life on any level, can build up like a toxin. The safe but false feeling of acceptance may be of too little comfort, having us living in constant vigilance of our secret being exposed or simply suffering the exhaustion of keeping up a façade. When we are accepted for that which we are not, we may still feel just as alone as we fear we might be for revealing who we truly are. Pluto is often involved whenever dismantling, as Rose put it, is required, but Uranus is Pluto’s bedfellow when an old skin needs to be shed; it is The Liberator.

The Uranus Opposition: the Celestial Monkey Wrench

Into everyone’s life, a little Uranus must fall but not always at the same times in our lives or with the same intensity or sequence of events. A natal chart is essentially a map of the sky at the time of a birth, revealing the location of the planets and a few other heavenly favorites at that moment. Although the planets in our natal map are frozen in time, the movement of the planets from then on are not. Uranus’ orbit may be predictable (a word which Uranus would scowl about being associated with) but depending on the orientation of the planets in your natal chart, you may experience Uranus crossing over the position of your Sun, for example, at age 2 while your neighbor may not experience it until age 62. It all depends on the starting line: your birth moment.

This variability applies to all the planets, except for one very predictable exception: a planet’s orientation to itself. Any planet will eventually return to its original location, for example. So while Uranus may cross your Sun’s position at age 2 but your neighbor’s Sun position at age 62, you and everyone who lives to be the ripe old age of 84 will experience Uranus’ return around that age. Halfway through that cycle, at about age 42, everyone experiences the Uranus opposition, the period of time when Uranus is opposite its original position in everyone’s own natal chart.*

Uranus represents things that happen suddenly and without warning, personal changes can take us by surprise just as much as they do to those around us. Uranus represents liberation via separation; the ability to see something or someone objectively is dependent on our distance from it. We may find that the idea, belief, relationship, job, or religion just does not have the same meaning or relevance in our life that it had just months before, maybe for no discernable reason.

It’s likely no accident that many of the obvious, disruptive events that take place during a classic mid-life crisis happen around this age. We may feel rebellious, angsty, or frustrated, often in response to a feeling of being trapped. These trappings may have been our own doing and even served us well once, but at the Uranus opposition, it’s time to re-authenticate and that may mean breaking up not just with a job or a partner, but our former self.

The Uranus opposition can bring about the awareness of a need to break away from something that you may have been previously in league with, even if only by default, in an effort to reveal and express something essential about your true self. “Be Yourself” is Uranus’ call to action but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes that which we were, thought we were, or thought we would always be turns out to be that which inhibits us from becoming who we are. Uranus’ opposition is the cosmic monkey wrench that stops the auto-pilot engine so we can really think about where we’re going and whether or not it’s a dead-end.

Rose’s Revolution Evolution

Rose’s own Uranus lies in a close conjunction with Venus in her natal chart, in the sign of Libra in her 5th house.

rose-mcgowan-triwheel

Rose’s Uranian individuality is expressed not only in her relationship needs and style, but also her creative and artistic inclinations, which can be especially revealing in a profession that revolves heavily around creativity, art, self-expression and/or performance, such as an actor and director like Rose. The expression of beauty and its manifestation through modeled gender roles is also a way Rose’s unique perspective will come through–bucking beauty standards and assumptions about women and relationships are just a few examples of something she’s born to do. To her, expression of one’s beauty may be simply about being who you are, not your gender identity. She has spoken several times about being raised in what she sees as a ‘gender-neutral’ environment. “I don’t remember ever seeing any mirrors,” she said in an interview. “I grew up without actually registering that I was a girl or a boy.”

Astrology is always understood and expressed through the lens of the current era. Traditionally, Venus has represented the feminine and this has been expressed in astrology literature and practice in the past; Venus in a woman’s chart represents the way she expresses her femininity and in a man’s chart, it represents what he wants in a woman, often with the assumption that not only does a man have any femininity to express and must project it onto an opposite gender, but that all men are heterosexual. In the current age, modern thought begins to offer us more complexity and nuance in how gender, sexuality, and femininity are expressed and understood. Indeed, this is a significant part of what has been incubating since the birth of the Uranus-in-Libra generation (those born roughly between late 1968 and late 1975) and blossoms as they hit the middle decades of life.

Although just shy of exact, Uranus has been opposing Rose’s own Uranus (and Venus) since mid-late spring. Although Rose’s tweet was self-initiated, the unanticipated reactions that resulted are right up Uranus’ alley. It’s no surprise that within the context of her life and her chart, the wake-up call comes in the form of authenticity (Uranus) and equality (Libra) in feminine and creative expression (Venus, 5th house).

Many probably hope she’s not just having a momentary rebellion but that she’s really going to spearhead change, or at least, join the cause in an active, visible way. Uranus sounds the alarm but there’s no guarantee that we won’t push the snooze button. The stamina and commitment to walk the unbeaten path is not easy and while we may be nod absently at the platitude, the magnitude of that truth isn’t always fully realized when we’re still running hot on a dose of reactionary indignation. It feels good to push back at what you feel has been oppressing you, even if (and sometimes especially if) it’s been you, yourself, in the form of internalized beliefs, judgmental voices, and so on. But the consequences, sometimes surprising, long-reaching and painful, of breaking with that ‘norm’ can be a hard burden to bear. So we won’t judge Rose too harshly if she doesn’t single-handedly change the world, or even Hollywood, will we?

Uranus breaks stuff so we can have a breakthrough. It’s up to us what we do with it from there, but our viewpoint can be forever changed, providing that ‘before and after’ perspective that is hard to forget or ignore. Even after the temporary upheaval of a Uranus opposition is over, the ripples go out to the edges.

This is the first of four passes Uranus will make to the opposing point of Rose’s Uranus-Venus conjunction. In 2016 and early 2017, Uranus will oppose this conjunction again, sending the ripple out further each time. For now, it looks like she’s taking it and running with it.

“For me, in my life, I’m just done ‘being allowed’ to be anything. I’m just no longer interested in people that will allow me to be anything because who are you to allow me to be anything? How dare you.”

Have you experienced a Uranian revolution? Please comment and share your story!


Further, fascinating reading and viewing about Rose McGowan and her extraordinary life:

Rose McGowan: I Escaped a Cult

All quotes used here are directly from Rose McGowan in this interview: DP/30 2014 Interview with Rose McGowan

*There is a small variability in the length and age of exactness of a planet’s return to its natal position and its contacts to its natal position along the way. This is largely due to the apparent retrograde phenomenon, when a planet temporarily appears to travel backward across the backdrop of the sky. But the variability window caused by retrogradation is a matter of months, not years. No one experiences a Uranus opposing itself at age 34, for example. It will also be around age 42, sometimes slightly earlier, sometimes slightly later.

Image of Rose McGowan by gdcgraphics – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
This piece was originally featured in The Mountain Astrologer’s blog, Sept 2015

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