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Changing of the Guard: Sun into Scorpio

Death-chasing-flock-of-mort By tomorrow, the Sun will be in Scorpio. Contained within Scorpio is the celebration of Samhain (Halloween), a night where the boundaries between the worlds is said to be thin and the Underworld is not far away. Divination (various methods, such as scrying, through which knowledge is gained from other worldly sources) is said to be most powerful on this night since the other world from which one is trying to divine answers is so accessible. Samhain is celebrated not with the attitude of fear of the dark or all things representing death, but with respect and welcome for these integral parts of life.

Scorpio is the sign of
transformation and it does this by welcoming the "Underworld" into its reality. From the downright frightening to the merely taboo, Scorpio is about bringing those things into our consciousness as well as the pleasant things. Scorpio recognizes that if we push what scares us, about life or about ourselves, into the shadows, we don't get rid of it, we simply give it permission to haunt us, with no control or choice whatsoever. The monsters don't go away; they just get bigger
.

I've always preferred the symbol of the Phoenix for Scorpio, over the Scorpion. The Phoenix is a mythical animal that burns in flame when it reaches the end of its life, and the ashes from that ended life nurture the birth of another life. This is not a choice, it's just the method through which the Phoenix dies. Much in life that scares us tends to center around things that come upon us most of the time without any choice, such as our actual physical death which we know, on some level, is always pursuing us. More than just showing courage, Scorpio represents the power that one gains when it stops running and turns to face what is chasing it, even though it risks being swallowed whole. Transformation, like the Phoenix, is not a gradual, gentle change, but requires an utter surrender of what one is and has been, in order to bring forth what it can and must be. Much like Samhain is considered by many to be the end, and the beginning of the year, Scorpio's freedom is found in the moment that it surrenders its life to begin its new one.

We all have a little Scorpio in us, even if it's just by virtue of its ruling planet, Pluto, and we all have a closet in which skeletons may be housed (your 8th house is a great place for that!) We all face times in our lives where we have the opportunity to truly look at what we've created in our lives as a result of our refusal to face a fear or let go of an attachment we've made that we pour our power into so we don't have to have the burden of carrying it. Sometimes it's too much for us to bear, but when we can find the strength, facing the monster allows us to take back the pieces of ourselves that we have left behind in running from it.

As the Sun moves through Scorpio, it brings light to the dark places, so that we may navigate them and transform ourselves in small and large ways. What treasures might you find if you weren't afraid to go into the cave?

Striking a Balance: the Astrology of Positive Thinking

With four planets in Libra in my natal chart, including Uranus and Mercury in my 9th house of philosophy, I often have a 'knee-jerk' reaction to any statement that appears to be an opinion stated
as an absolute. Mars leads my Libra planetary pack so perhaps it's no
wonder that I often defend anything by starting my argument with "Yes,
but on the other hand…"

Bright sided book cover So when I was introduced to and began reading Barbara Ehrenreich's latest book: Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America,
I was excited to see that the chronic "flight into light" behaviors
that sometimes accompany 'new age' thinking and the (in my opinion)
misuse and misunderstanding of the Law of Attraction being argued. But
would she do it in an intelligent and even-handed way, I wondered? Or
was this going to be a pessimist's manifesto, just as extreme as its
opposite argument?

To
my surprise and enjoyment, I think she argued intelligently and fairly,
with the overall message of grounded optimism, not pessimism and also
not empty-headed positive thinking. But this isn't exactly meant to be just a book review, so let's get on with the astrology.

As soon as I saw Barbara's interview on The Daily Show,
all kinds of astrological possibilities entered my head. This book's
appearance seems to be synchronistic with the ushering in of the Pluto
in Capricorn period, particularly coming from the Pluto in Sagittarius
period. Pluto has been in Capricorn for a good while now, but it is
still in the beginning stages of entry and the effects are not yet
fully shaken out. Barbara's subtitle about "undermining America,"
though I think a tad dramatic (yay, marketing), got me to thinking
about the United States' chart and the recognition of Sagittarius, the sign of optimism if there ever was one, is the United States' Ascendant. And then, of course, I wondered about Barbara's
own chart.

How Pluto Works in the Collective

The outer planets, usually referring to Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, are sometimes called 'generational'
because they are in the same sign for such a long period of time that
they can affect an entire generation collectively. I think the mistake
in that perspective is in thinking that the generational effect is
their only relevance. These planets matter greatly in a personal natal
chart, but they also function on a larger scale. Pluto especially,
staying in a sign for at least 10 years but sometimes more than 20, can
reflect an entire generation.

Pluto affects the collective in two ways.
First, events that take place during any given period, such as when
Pluto was in Sagittarius from 1995 to 2008, will reflect what we all
are learning about that sign, both it's blind spots and negative qualities as well as its possibilities and positive qualities. Second, the generation that is born during that time not only lives through it but carries the energy of it throughout their life, which then ripens when those children become adults, entering the work force, establishing and changing laws, and shaping culture.

Pluto in Sagittarius: Bigger is Better

In a nutshell, Sagittarius rules things like expanding one's reach through travel, crossing boundaries of race and country for multi-cultural experiences, adventure, the quest for knowledge and discovery through (sometimes naive) experimentation, faith and optimism. Here are a handful of things that happened during Pluto's journey through Sagittarius:

  • The Euro began circulating, making travel through Europe easier through standardized currency
  • Dolly the Sheep was cloned
  • Construction started on the International Space Station
  • Internet use ballooned, as well as development of faster ways to access it and it became easier to purchase things from other countries through e-commerce
  • GPS (Global Positioning System) became fully operational
  • Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa
  • Terrorist attacks on September 11th in New York
  • Credit over-extension grows as do examples of economic balloon and collapse, such as the 'dot-com' cave in
The new age movement did not start during Pluto in Sagittarius by any means, but it continued to grow. The idea of the Law of Attraction regained popularity through the introduction of The Secret book and movie, and while the idea of visualizing what you want is a great one, since thoughts can lead to actions, the way it was popularly received seemed to be not "you can become what you imagine" but "you are what you think."

Pluto in Capricorn: Bursting the Bubble

It is during the shifts from one sign to another that the contrast
between them can so easily be seen. One of the most obvious differences
is the increasing realization of the need to live within one's limits:
especially financial and environmental – the management of one's
resources. As Pluto has entered Capricorn, the over-extension behaviors, especially financially, of the previous years has collapsed on itself, and a majority of people are dealing with the reality of this cave-in. Moving from Capricorn to Sagittarius feels like everything is being condensed, refined, and pressed into a much smaller but more solid form. Sagittarius was about possibility, Capricorn is about reality.

When we pass from spending a lot of time in one sign to another, there seems to be a readiness to move into the new energy, often showing up as a backlash from the negative qualities that permeated culture in the previous sign. No doubt we will be fed up of being ruled and regulated to death once Pluto enters Aquarius, but for now, many of us feel ready to 'come down to earth' and get a handle on things that have run away from us (or at least, the necessity is certainly presenting itself).

Capricorn
is no better than Sagittarius, just different and with a different
purpose.  Perhaps we must take the "anything is possible if you only
believe" optimism of Sagittarius and push it through the translation process of "everything is possible just not all at once and with no money or time or plan"
ideology of Capricorn. I think this book is a great example of this process, moving from Sagittarius to Capricorn specifically. Barbara is expressing something I've heard from a lot of clients, disappointed that the thinking of The Secret and similar philosophies did not work like the magic trick it seemed to be.

Striking a Balance

My interpretation of Barbara's argument is that it's not that one shouldn't be hopeful or positive at all, only that in overdoing it as a philosophy, it has become its own oppressive 'religion'. I don't feel that thinking positively is a bad thing, and in fact my own philosophy with my clients is geared toward empowering them to respond to their situations in a way that helps them participate in intentionally crafting their life rather than feeling powerless or victimized. I do think, though, that there is a huge difference between that and telling ourselves that "Happy feelings will attract more happy circumstances" and expecting that our thoughts alone are all that are required. Interestingly, Barbara pointed out that when measured, Americans don't seem to be any happier, despite our "vaunted positivity." One can see how the Sagittarian shadow of more, more, more might leave one never satisfied.

In my attempt to show the Sagittarian shadow, I am not trying to ridicule it's purpose nor am I making an argument against the power of our own willingness to risk and have the faith and confidence in ourselves to step into our potential. I'm also a huge fan of humility in the face of the Unknown, and am not a fan of those who would assume that nothing unseen or unproven is real (I'm an Astrologer for goodness' sake!) But my early experiences with religion left me with a bad taste in mouth, specifically the tendency to attribute all good things with God, and all bad things with our weakness in succumbing to the Devil, which I think leaves us with the 'catch 22' of blaming ourselves only for the bad things we do and never being able to take pride in or credit for the good things we do. This is more an interpretation by those who practice religion rather than the fault of the system itself, but nonetheless, it was a cultural perspective I could never swallow.

Sometimes our misuse of positive thinking can show up as merely suppression of negative thoughts, not the successful management of them. Anger, fear, and sorrow are just as natural, though not nearly as comfortable, as joy, excitement, and contentment. I think it's important that in our attempts to empower ourselves with one hand, we not disempower ourselves with the other hand by shutting down the parts of ourselves and our responses to life that are uncomfortable (is my 8th house stellium showing?) Hiding our darkness behind "love and light" can be almost as damaging as drinking ourselves to death in order to numb the pain, and our growing chronic use of anti-depressants, while beneficial to many, can also be (and in many cases has been).

It's probably not a very good idea to quote someone who was paraphrasing another someone, but it was such a striking example of this that I'm going to allow myself this faux pas. Several years ago I was in a class and one of the participants in the class was a licensed psychotherapist. She related a story to the group about a recent event she'd been to where the speaker was discussing the benefits anti-depressants and the like, and at one point he apparently stated that with these drugs, 'no one would ever have to have a bad day again.' Of course, we all gasped in horror, but when we are responding in an unconscious way to the philosophy of positive thinking, I think we can be quite vulnerable to living and acting in a way that attempts to prevent ever a 'bad day' from happening, even if consciously we would never claim that as our philosophy.

I think the concept of responsibility is woven in to these positive thinking philosophies, but can be skewed in a poisonous way in much the same manner as I described above while discussing religion. In
a well meaning attempt to empower ourselves and not respond to life as
a victim, we are also vulnerable to inflating our own sense of power,
which not only leads to a let down when reality doesn't reflect that,
but can be an insidious way to punish ourselves and others. One example
I've heard, unfortunately much too often, is the idea that any disaster
or upsetting circumstance in someone's life, from a business failure to
a car crash to a health concern, has been brought on by the person
themselves. Sometimes the more gentle theory is proposed: "because they
needed its lessons." However, all too often there is the judgment
projected that the person somehow failed the Law of Attraction test and
this is their result or even their punishment. This perspective does nothing to empower
someone to respond positively, but  simply to suppress natural feelings of
fear, anxiety, or sorrow out of a sense of shame that  they would even be feeling
them in the first place, and allowing themselves to behave like a,
gasp, victim!

Sagittarius does not like to feel trapped, and feeling a victim is certainly a  way one can feel trapped, but Capricorn doesn't like to play victim either. They both combat that thinking through very different methods. I think it is the Pluto in Capricorn period and the children that carry the stamp of that period forward that can marry the idea of positive thinking with the actual setting of realistic but ambitious goals. During Pluto in Capricorn, we'll see plenty of Capricorn's dark side, such as examples of the cruelty that can come with "ends justify the means" thinking, often in the name of trying to respond to the realistic limitations in resources we find ourselves dealing with, and possibly a lot of examples where value is placed on justice, but perhaps not balanced with mercy.

Barbara-ehrenreich-natal-ch Barbara's Natal Chart

I won't spend too much time here because more than one blog entry can always be written about the fascinating world of one person's natal chart. However, I did find it personally amusing when I saw that the planet Jupiter was squaring her nodes, indicating, among other things, that the attitude of hope, confidence, potential, and, gasp, even positive thinking, represent an evolutionary rite of passage in getting from her south node to her north node (although it's in Gemini, which certainly speaks to clear thinking and using one's voice and mind to communicate a message  – something she clearly seems to be doing vigorously and successfully in her life).

Her north node lies in Virgo, along with her Sun and Mercury and Neptune. Speaking from an Evolutionary Astrology perspective, Neptune opposed her south node and yet it's ruler, would seem to reflect a feeling of being oppressed/opposed by the things Neptune in Virgo represents, such as spirituality delivered in strict rule and ritual, right and wrong fashion (among other things). In working toward her north node, I would imagine she would need to learn to make peace with that oppression and move beyond it, to embrace her own truth. Is this book accomplishing that for her? Who can say, but as it is a book that was, in part, born out of her struggle with breast cancer and the frustration she felt with the positive thinking overload which left no room for sorting through anger or fear, I would speculate that it's an excellent step in clearing the debris.

Part 2 of Carl Jung’s “Red Book”: The Astrology Behind the Publication of Jung’s Most Personal Work

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist that helped bring
forth the birth and development of psychology. In 1914 he began a
journal in which he described his personal journey, his "confrontation
with the unconscious," as he called it. From 1914 to 1930 he wrote in
this Liber Novus (new book) with a red binding and cover, which he
simply called his "Red Book." It has remained mostly unseen, even
during his life and certainly after his death, until it was taken from
a safe deposit box in Zurich in November of 2007. It's long-awaited
publication date is October 7th, 2009.

In part 2, I'll discuss the astrology of the publication date, both on its own and in Jung's chart specifically. Then we'll move on to his natal chart.

 

Carl-jung-oct-7

October 7th, 2009: The Date of Publication

Mercury catches up with Saturn in Virgo after turning direct. The words (Mercury) become real (Saturn), in black and white for all to see. The moon also trines the two that day, adding the element of the subconscious coming into consciousness and reality.

In Jung's own chart, the transiting Sun sextiles his Uranus exactly, seeming to indicate the light shining on Jung's true self, warts and all. We are all likely to get a view of Jung that may challenge the view we'd like to hold of him and how we've adjusted his views and his work to suit our own perspectives. This is a view of the man in a truer sense than the work he chose to publish and reveal, but perhaps due to the nature of a sextile, that light will reveal delightful surprises into the man, as well as challenge the ideas we've settled into about him. The moon conjuncts his Pluto in the third house that day as well. Two symbols of the unconscious coming together indicate the intensity of the moon that may prevail as the pages are opened, and in the third house, new ideas will be presented to be investigated and pulled apart. The third house's opposite, the ninth house, is about pulling ideas together to form meaning, a larger understanding. But the third house is about new data coming in and pulling things apart that we thought we knew. To truly SEE without judgment or filter is highlighted here.

 

Carl-jung-natal-chart

Jung's Natal Chart: Why Was He Here? An Evolutionary Astrology Perspective

The placement of the south node in the 8th house seems to reflect the second nature of Jung to dig deeper into the motivations behind the behavior of others and therefore his life's work of mining the unconscious. With that sound node in Libra, it's quite likely that he benefited greatly from seeing the contrasts between people and himself from 'the other' in relationship as the primary incubator for what he brought forth in this life in his work. On a personal level, though, he may have entered this life with a vulnerability to deferring to much to the other or depending too much on the other in relationships of all kinds. Mercury and Venus square his nodes from Cancer in the 6th house, signifying the importance of filtering his observations and beliefs through his own subjective mind (Cancer/Mercury) and through right relationship dynamics (Venus), especially in work partnerships (insert the obvious Freud reference here). It also indicates that it was important for him to really dig in to the emotional nature of the work (cancer) in a tangible and detailed way (6th house) on a daily basis by simply talking to his patients and what he could really learn from them. His 3rd house planets in Taurus would have assisted him in a willingness to take in the data from his patients as it appeared without an agenda, however with those planets being the Moon and Pluto, he would have to work hard to maintain a sense of the objective as he took in that information. His heart was in the learning and the surprise of what he uncovered though, and his natural Libran ability to see more than one perspective would be of assistance, although with a lot of energy in Taurus and Cancer, it seems that he was trying to get out of the bottomless tendency to second guess or consider 'the other hand' so often that he could not come to the intuitive connections that he would otherwise. Seeing the Moon and Pluto in the 3rd house and Mercury in a water sign seems to be an indicator of the astrological source in his interest in dreams and the subconscious as well, not to mention Neptune squaring his Sun and ascendant, always reminding him of the 'other world' and perhaps representing his willingness to eventually explore 'alternative' theories and systems such as astrology.

Considering the Sun and Uranus in the 7th house in Leo, Aquarius rising, and Saturn in the 1st house, in the light of his south node in Libra in the 8th, these placements represent the perfect incubator of relationship being the actual modality through which he expressed his individuality and his need to be heard and seen. The 8th house classically represents the resources of the other, and with Libra energy there in addition, a tendency toward relying on the validation or sanction of others rather than one's own resources or merit is what he may have come to resolve. Saturn in Aquarius in the 1st shows the difficulty in walking one's own path as it comes to the very essence of who he is. To 'be yourself' sounds simple until we realize how isolating it can feel when there is no beaten path; something he would need to work with for self-actualization.

The famous break with Freud proved to be very traumatic in the light of a south node that needs validation and the ruler of that south node in the 6th house, associated with work but also heavily with unequal relationships: mentor/mentee relationships. This was part of the work he was meant to do, to break away from giving his power away in unhealthy relationships of this apprentice/master nature, but not an easy thing to do. The beginning of this period also marked his beginning of his Red Book. His exploration into his own darkness and the phoenix dying and rising from the 3rd house is about to be made visible.

With his north node in Aries in the 2nd house, developing courage to come to believe in his own capability and empowerment outside of the shadow of another was the gist of his soul's task. Risk taking (Aries) would have been a key factor in his journey to, as Steven Forrest has said, "prove himself to himself." The ruler of his north node is Mars, in Sagittarius in the 11th house, suggests that a primary method through which to do that is to share his own beliefs, philosophies, and truths (Sagittarius) with the world/public (11th house) with the courage of conviction. His progressed Midheaven (evolving role in the world) has been crossing over his own north node beginning with the Red Book's removal from the safe deposit box. Looks like one's work is never done!

To read a fuller analysis of his chart, see my July 25th 2010 entry, Happy Birthday Carl Jung: An Astrological Vignette.

 

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