Every day before lunch, I go for a short walk along the creek, down to the bridge. Even on a cold, soggy day like today, I know it will be beautiful. There are the bare branches all tangled against the sky, the muted orange and gold of the fallen leaves giving a crinkly texture to the ground, and the raindrops forming perfect concentric circles in the water.
And I see a lot of squirrels, looking pretty fat and healthy, and busily ferrying nuts around. They don’t seem unduly anxious about the coming winter. They have a plan, the same one they’ve had in past years, and it hasn’t failed them yet.
How are we humans doing? Do we have a plan? Today in Paris, leaders from all over the globe are meeting to discuss saving the planet for future generations. This is a new thing, earthlings working together, attempting to use collective knowledge for the collective good on such a large scale. But clearly we have to change our approach in a very basic way, partnering with the planet instead of competing against natural forces.
At this moment in history, most of us are a little lost. We are passive, disconnected to our own power and agency. Unlike the squirrels, we don’t have a clear connection between our day-to-day activities and the things we truly need to survive.
We are all quite dependent on machines and technology which we don’t fully understand. Many of us spend all day working at jobs which do not directly contribute to anyone’s well-being. Some people create useful objects, but often do it in unhealthy, dehumanizing environments.
And here in the US, a great deal of money and energy is dedicated to turning us into consumers, those who buy great quantities of stuff. And as we buy things, we know that these objects are made cheaply, designed to fall apart as soon as possible, so that we will buy the same objects again. In other words, even as consumers, we are not respected enough to be offered real value.
All of this is bad for us and bad for the earth. To survive on this planet, we’ll have to give up these mindless activities, along with all the garbage they produce. It seems clear, looking around at the things the earth makes, that beauty and harmony are her choices in most situations. If we learn to live in harmony with her, it will be because we echo her creativity, ingenuity, and style.
Ambiguity, uncertainty and passivity relate to the planet Neptune. And addiction is also a Neptunian thing. When you don’t have a sense of power, you just reach for whatever feels the best, because it doesn’t much matter what you do. When you’re not grounded on the earth or in your skin, then the best choice is to find an overpowering sensation and let it take you over. And our society provides many choices of addiction, one to suit every personality.
Right now, Neptune is strong in its home sign, Pisces, and it’s making a hard aspect to Saturn. Saturn is the planet of limitation and scarcity, so this mix produces fear. There’s an ongoing sense of threat, but no clear sense of its origins. Our passivity feels wrong, but there’s still no clear signal for action.
The attacks in Paris generated a lot of fear; they were felt as an electric shock here in the US. Fear has been used as a cynical campaign tool for quite a while, but this approach has been escalating with the candidacy of Donald Trump, who is the master of social scapegoating. Feel powerless? It’s their fault, whoever “they” are. And, in the twisted logic of a bully, these scapegoats are both capable of terrible things, and at the same time, weaklings and “losers”.
This incendiary speechifying has resulted in a spate of domestic terrorism, such as the recent shootings at the Minneapolis Black Lives Matter rally, and the attacks on Planned Parenthood. Fear makes people attack anyone who seems alien in any way, even if that person is an orphan child coming from a war zone.
These issues will be with us for a while, although the Saturn/Neptune square will weaken as December goes on. But this is just the first pass of an aspect which will be a big player in 2016. It will return in the spring, and be in orb for about five months. So we will have a lot of opportunities to work on this question of amorphous fear. We will have to identify these terrifying figures in the mist, and that means coming closer to them. It can mean stripping off their masks and seeing someone you thought you loved, or perhaps seeing yourself.
During hard Neptune aspects, you have to find a way to move through the fog, towards whatever light you can spot. The Paris talks are a beacon, although we still don’t know if they’ll succeed in any real sense. Is the world too far gone? Have we destroyed ourselves already?
Neptune is not just the planet of confusion and ambivalence. When we’re driven crazy by illusions and deceptions, we go inward, and so Neptune leads us to the still small voice of truth within. This is our connection to the cosmos, which is both inside us and around us. Neptune dissolves ego barriers, sometimes painfully, and puts us in touch with a greater consciousness.
And Saturn is the voice of experience, telling us what hasn’t worked in the past. Facing that can be flattening, but it’s a necessary first step to living more fully and wisely on this planet. We can work together to build lives that are healthy, grounded, and accountable. Some of us are doing this, without any sense of certainty, with just enough faith to keep on. But some of us can’t find that, and are just howling in the wind.