Dear Friend and Reader:
I've noticed that holidays tend to be associated with events relating to their names. For instance, a lot of people experiment with independence on Independence Day. We tend to get crucified around Christmas (it's too long of a wait till Good Friday), and we can take a leap on Leap Day. Leap Day only happens once every four years. For the most part, it seems that humans prefer to sit.
The need to take a leap is going around, and strong. I'm pretty sure most of us don't see the predicament we're in, but we can feel it. In a word, that predicament is fear. I look, I listen, I read and it seems that many, many people are so scared they have no idea of what. For everything we may want to do, we seem to have at least 10 rousing, supercharged fears to block our way. At the moment, most of our inputs feed and solidify fear.
Our often-unconscious involvement with the technosphere has most of us evermore crystallized into patterns that seem increasingly difficult to escape. For one thing, we tend to live within a very narrow spectrum of ideas about what is possible, what is appropriate, what will not get us into 'trouble'. Input to our minds tends to vary between vicious negativity and banal triviality -- in other words, so-called news and games. That is a pretty narrow spectrum for something as majestic as a human mind. I think that most people have existed within this tunnel for so long, there seems to be no way out.
I am pretty sure that the majority of people want love, and want to express themselves creatively -- but these seem to be the most elusive aspects of life, and the ones we fear the very most. We talk about the desire, but not the panic lurking below the surface.
We tend to put so much emphasis everywhere else, perhaps in an effort to distract our minds from anxiety: success, acquiring things, and searching for a relationship rather than fully embracing the challenging experience of relating to people from a place of vulnerability. The thing about love and creativity is that for the most part, they involve giving yourself over, something that is allegedly scary. And you cannot do that if you're cheap, or if you believe you don't have anything worth giving, that is, if you fear you are empty.
Both love and art involve making some demands on the environment as well. I am writing this column in a taco joint in Woodstock. A moment ago, radio was set to WDST, which plays a lot of extremely annoying commercials that all sound the same. I took the prerogative to request that the house change the tune. We are now listening to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I am sure you would prefer that when I'm writing your column, I listen to a poet (or nothing) rather than rapid-fire ads for laser surgery and snowmobiles.
I can assure you that nobody was going to turn off the radio unless I asked. Most people take the background noise for granted; we take the toxic environment as a given. We tend to be afraid to ask anything of that environment, except that our toxic cell phone works. And it better, for $1,000 a year.
People keep asking me when it's going to happen -- I'm an astrologer, so I must know. When: the relationship, the breakthrough, the richly creative phase, the end of the long struggle. When are those dumb laser surgery ads going to stop? When is someone going to love me? I'll tell you -- sometime after you confront your fear.
Though, the idea that something is going to happen insinuates two things -- one being fate, which means that the person wondering is somehow passive. Second, the thing that is going to happen...happens to them; victimhood is implied by asking "when is it going to happen?" I recognize this is how floods, tornados, earthquakes and spontaneous death usually go down, but it's not usually how people make constructive choices.
How many decisions are made in wrecked automobiles, hospital beds or handcuffs? Many seem to flirt with these things because they need a change. I am not sure where this particular metaprogram comes from, but we're usually taught to keep going until we crash. Then, the next step is to pick up the pieces. Yet how often is this actually creative? I've seen plenty of instances where even pain and loss fail to deliver a message we are able to actually get, that is, a message that we can let go of fear; that change is okay.
Once fear is suspended, opportunity and action must be combined in order for conscious, willing change to happen. This is to say, you have to take a chance and get off your ass.
Today is Leap Day, but we're really in something of a Leap Season. In the astrology, I see nothing but opportunity. Maybe I'm projecting, so I had better copy my notes out of the margin and put them into this article. Some will be familiar with some of these ideas from Tuesday's Pisces birthday letter
, but astrology usually benefits from reinterpretation and the use of a shifting viewpoint.
The backdrop to the current sky is Pisces -- that's the season we're in. Pisces is the last sign, so we have a few clues we can pick up from this. One is about completions, and the other being how the extreme waning phase of any cycle is the moment of seeding the new. We happen to be in the last sign, and approaching the Pisces New Moon -- the last one of the four seasons.
Pisces has a few distinct qualities that are available to you: one of them being that a broad perspective is available. Another is that, coming last, we have a moment where things that have been delayed a long time can come to fruition.
This New Moon is conjunct Uranus -- revolutionary, and in Pisces, imaginative. If you're invested in the rational world, these constitute a big risk. But no change is possible without taking a chance. Uranus is really the energy of Prometheus. He's the guy who stole "fire" (awareness, electricity, technology, passion) from the Gods and gave it to mankind. He is the patron saint of many revolutions, inventions and liberating experiences. Uranus is a powerful influence, but in Pisces it can also manifest as mindless diversion (ala the Roaring 20s, high-tech styled) and the entirely uncreative use of technology. Or, it can fire us up on the deepest levels of heart, soul and erotic passion.
The problem with Uranus is that it demands change. Responding to an idea can compel us to reconsider our entire life. This terrifies most people, and this is a phobia that should have a name we all know. Usually, we want the benefits of change without giving anything up (usually, this automatic thing is called progress). We want to fix everything that's wrong without releasing the familiar patterns that glue us to reality, and as a result nothing or very little actually happens. So if you want creativity, passion and revolution, start by agreeing that this means change and that change means changing
New York City as seen from the Palisades cliffs in New Jersey. Photo by Eric Francis.
Change takes confidence. Apropos of this theme, Achilles (now in Pisces) is an asteroid that covers the theme of false lack of confidence and to a lesser extent, false confidence. False lack of confidence? If you lack confidence, isn't that just how it is? Well, no. You can have your pre-existing, organic confidence undermined or cloaked by factors that you can identify and remove. The past couple of weeks I have been noticing what a number parents can do on their kids. I have spent a decade and a half listening to adults tell me their story, that is, principally women in their 30s, 40s and 50s -- many of whom are still struggling with what their parents did to them.
There are many, many permutations of parents eroding the confidence of their kids. Recently, I have been talking to a lot of young women involved with my photography projects, and watching what they go through in their day to day lives; their own challenges and struggles. I am witnessing the harsh toll that mothers often have on their daughters -- such as crazymaking, sending radically mixed signals, and other attempts at total emotional control. An example of a mixed signal is the girl is told she has to support herself and live independently, and then her attempts to do so are met with anything from resistance to sabotage. It takes a lot of courage -- a hell of a lot of the stuff, and support, and luck -- for a woman to have any emotional or psychological independence from her mother. It takes being enlightened, brave, and truly loving for a mother to let go of her daughter. Usually, this means being a therapy graduate, and there are far fewer of those than high school graduates.
It takes guts to even mention this issue. I've spent most of the last 24 hours struggling with how to say this in such a way as not to offend my readers, but I feel like it must be said. If we want young women to become people, we need to do things that help them build confidence.
Men become people by taking a step beyond their father; by knocking him off his horse; by realizing that his judgments don't matter. They are rewarded for concrete achievements, with anything from accolades to money to power. I don't think that women have so many parallel rituals, and the emotional bonds between women are entirely different than those between men. Men, so often accused of being "emotionally superficial," and fathers being so often marginalized or self-marginalized, have a slight advantage here. I believe that for a wide variety of reasons, it's more difficult for women
to become free of their mother than it is for men to become free of either
parent. The mother-daughter bond is typically held in place by a kind of emotional projection that blurs the boundaries between the two women.
I am sure that a great deal of the problem involves lack of sexual confidence. I ask nearly every young woman I work with or meet what she was taught about her sexuality, and the answer is usually nada. There is no way a young woman can be confident in the world unless she has some clue as to her sexual power, the accompanying responsibilities and how to handle them. The constant message is, "Be sexual but don't have sex." That, if anyone remembers what it was like to be young, is not going to work, and it is not working. The current prevailing wisdom is to preserve purity with ignorance. And that is not working, either.
Along with this missing information is conveyed many forms of the idea that she cannot run her own life, make choices, or live without a man. Or there is the mixed signal: you can live without a man, but you can't have the skills or confidence to do so. I don't see this getting significantly better at the moment; I do see the form of the problem changing, which is a kind of masquerade for progress.
I suggest we make a run on the bookstores for copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves
, and invest in a few high quality sex toys
for the young women in your life so they at least have an alternative way to blow off steam while they sort out their sexual values.
What to do with boys and young men is another question, one that we will address soon. (My friend and writing partner Paloma Todd and I are currently developing a project devoted to boys and men, called Mars Calling
. This, you will be hearing about shortly.)
Let's move onto another asteroid.
Vesta, now in early Pisces, brings in the very Piscean themes of sex and service. These can be considered together; they can be considered separately. The primary message of Vesta is tend your sexual and creative fire like it is the first and only thing that matters. This is THE gesture of owning that fire -- because taking care of it implies a form of direct stewardship that builds an investment. Have you ever taken care of a campfire or a woodstove? It's not a gas furnace. It requires constant attention to something that has a life of its own, but your efforts and focus support that life directly. This is the creative or sexual experience at its most basic.
Fae as Mirror Bearer from Book of Blue. Photo by Dani Voirin.
With Vesta, though, there is a profound question of whose fire it really is. Traditionally, the Vestal fire was at the center of the Roman town. It was collective property. The flame was not allowed to go out, and it was tended by women who were a kind of collective property as well. There was a tradition of keeping the flame going around the clock, and of starting new fires in other towns with the hot coals of an existing one. This is where the theme of service comes in.
Our inner creative fire is, in a sense, collective property. Sex, creativity and service gain a significant portion of their value because of their value to others; because we share. Usually this gets abused; our sexual energy can be pirated or appropriated and our creative energy can be taken over by a temp agency. We can lose all sense of self due to a haunting sense of obligation that has no known origin that we are aware of.
Vesta in Pisces is about burning the fire of the imagination hot, tending that flame, and putting it to use. Pisces loves art, sex, music and any form of imaginative pleasure. These things start with you and extend outward into a space that you define. In other words, Vesta in Pisces says set your definitions, create your space, and have the experience you want. With Vesta, defining and using space is a vital process. In Pisces, the idea would be to arrange your space for maxiumum pleasure and creativity.
Vesta is still in early Pisces, opposite Saturn in Virgo. There may be an apparent conflict here between pleasure and responsibility. But Vesta has no existence at all, if it's not based in responsibility. The question is -- what responsibility? To whom, and why?
The New Moon cluster consists of six planets clustered within two degrees, including the Sun and Moon. The New Moon is accompanied by Niobe. She is saying cool it on the pride -- just do your work, do your thing and forget about pride. Pride is not a sin, but it is a huge distraction and self-aggrandizement. It keeps most of the better things in life away from us -- for example, we might be too proud to approach a person we like, fearing rejection. We might be too proud to try something (like paint), fearing we will look stupid.
Bacchus is also in Pisces, something of a homecoming for this guy. He is saying, make room for divine madness. Let go of your mind. It's tired of clinging. Humans need to transcend normal consciousness regularly, and the way we do that is through sex, drugs and art. Yes, in our parochial society, allegedly bad, worse and worst. He and his predecessor Dionysus were among the most deeply respected gods of Greek and Roman antiquity. Bacchus is the one word answer to why I don't believe in purity. I think we are safe, if there's such a thing as safety, if we use sex, substances and technology creatively and with awareness. Creatively means actively, with the mind ON, making something new -- a new feeling or experience, a new quality of time, a new thing, a new idea, a new approach to life. If you're into Bacchus, I can't say it any better than I did Tuesday -- make friends with cock and balls -- your own, the idea, those of the people you love, those you meet -- and use them creatively.
Carolyn Grillot of Paris, age 20, firedancing outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Photo by Eric Francis.
Child, another asteroid clustered in with the New Moon, is inviting you to return to your childhood dreams, ideas, ambitions and needs. We were typically cheated out of these, by intense social pressure. Kids are curious, articulate, creative, passionate and basically free. Then they have inhibitions, judgments, guilt and doubts piled on them by everyone from parents to teachers to peers. In other words, we cease to be kids when the fear smothers us.
We each have the heart of a child. The adult that surrounds that child typically functions more like a terrified prison guard than a healthy parent. You need to get inside that relationship, get the prison guard out of the way, and be a better parent to your inner child. Ask the kid in there what he or she needs; what he or she wants the most. There is nothing like a Pisces New Moon conjunct Uranus to fire up the childlike spirit and imagination -- and to stir up the revolutionary impulse that each of us possesses as a birthright of being human.
That is the opportunity. What you do with it is something else.
Yours & truly,
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
SELF DEFINITION is one of the things humankind depends on to create boundaries and safety nets for itself. In America, if asked what is most important to us, God, country and family is the default answer, although perhaps not in that order. We have some wiggle room in deciding which of the three is most important. We have been schooled in this nation to consider 'all men created equal' and yet there is still tribalism at work in our consciousness, and a sense of our separateness as defined by race, gender, religion, heritage, class, and political affiliation.
Young girl of the Black Thai Tribe, Vietnam. Photo by MaryLaura
In these past few years, that has stood out in stark relief and it underpins what drives the factions in our electoral process today. Our Republic has been a grand experiment in the principals of equality and yet now that it appears ready to collapse upon itself, tribalism is back, reflected in our current governance, our strident religions and our struggling class system.
Our affiliations with groups of like mind is very comforting, it gives us a platform from which to assert ourselves into the social fabric. It provides a shortcut to talking points and an ease of self definition that is apparent in little children; there's our mirror.
If you poll kids on their likes and dislikes regarding how they relate to others, what foods they favor, how they deal with aggression or even political affiliation, you will find that they are happy little reflections of their personal tribe, their family. The average parent, should they ponder this, would probably be pleased to have produced a little cookie-cutter replica of themselves. A thoughtful, and to my mind exceptional, parent would instead do everything in their power to expose their child to diversity and teach them to think for themselves.