Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Young World

The world is young.  This morning I noticed that our azalea bushes are getting ready to bloom.  The grass is growing out and getting raggedy.  Rabbits appear, nibbling on all the new weeds in our yard.  The birdsong is louder, and my windows are open. 

The coming month is full of fiery influences.  The fire signs are fresh, impetuous, spontaneous, playful – like spring.  They’re also hot-blooded, impatient, and sometimes combative.  Throughout April, we have four to five planets in fire signs.  The second strongest element this month will be earth, and this helps ground the energy somewhat.

Of all the fire signs, Aries is the most rambunctious and dynamic, and there will be a strong Aries influence all through April.  So there will be plenty of passion, especially among the young.  I remember what it was like being young, that constant high level of excitement, anxiety and confusion, and the endless search for a larger meaning.  Young people are vital, creative, full of promise - but also so easily exploited, so often lacking in worldly power.      

Ever since the sun entered Aries, there’s been a spate of deadly terrorist activity -  in Belgium, Turkey, Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan.  In Lahore, sixty-nine picnickers died, many of them young, many children.  And although I know nothing of the suicide bomber who carried out the attack, it’s likely he was also young. 

The fire signs are the heroic ones, the ones who want to demonstrate their courage and dedication to noble principles.  When a suicide bomber is surrounded by people praising him for this “selfless” act, how can he turn away from it?  He’s caught up in the worship of violence.  Violence is a fetish in every culture in the world today, although in some much more than in others.   Handling instruments of death and destruction, a person becomes as powerful as a god, for just a moment – and then it’s over.  

With the sun in Aries, this culture of violence is even more apparent to all of us.  We no longer live in a world where the young are carried up a mountain and sacrificed to the gods with an obsidian blade.  But still, we practice human sacrifice, and it’s a cause of great suffering.

Even in this fiery month, there’s one factor that might slow the bloodshed, and that’s Mars turning retrograde.  Mars is the ruler of Aries, and it’s the planet of action, will, physicality, desire, anger, combat, competition, blood and war.  It retrogrades once every two years, and then stays in apparent reverse motion for a little over two months. 

Usually Mars makes a few aspects every month, and these aspects make it visible.  When it makes a soft aspect to another planet, that planet is suddenly vitalized, and things get done.  When it makes a hard aspect to another planet, the planet has to struggle with some conflictive energy.  Either way, the rough, fast energy of Mars comes through. 

But this month, Mars makes no aspects to any other planet.  It hovers there, barely moving.  In April, its function seems to be mainly jinxing most plans to move forward.  On all sides, monkey wrenches will be thrown, and gears will grind.  It takes a while to find the wrench, extricate it, and get the engine fixed, and when that’s done, something else may break down.  There’s a pervasive uncertainty, very different from Mars’ usual brashness. 

This is not a particularly good month to attack anybody, especially after mid-month.  And when people do attack each other, they’re likely to end up hurting themselves.  But this doesn’t mean that people will stop trying, since all this fiery energy seeks outlets.  However, we may see more people burnt by their own matches.  For example, more of the GOP front-runner’s insults could bounce back onto himself.  More of his people may get busted for enacting violence on people in the crowd. 

The point of Mars retrograde is to turn us all away from business as usual.  How do we use our energy, our passion, our will, our amazing physical bodies?  What are we doing with these resources?  When we come to a place where new beginnings are possible, what do we choose to do?  What doors do we open?  What paths do we create, leading to which futures?

This is the month of the Aries new moon, always a great time to plan the future.  It’s the optimum time for planting seeds, both literally and figuratively.  It’s a time of renewal for this world we’re living in, a place that’s abundant, surprising, and beautiful.  There’s so much we can do here, and this is the time to experiment, to try new things, to follow our inspirations.

With Mars retrograde, we will have to pause though, to look at the situation in a different way, and sometimes even to refrain from whatever we passionately desire in the moment.  We might have to attend to the things we’ve learned from the past.  We might need patience, and a sense of humor.  We might have to take a lot of deep breaths until an impulse passes, especially if the impulse involves firearms.  And if we can’t resist, and we throw a punch, or lob an insult, we might need to step back, before the energy comes around to us again. 

The world is young, and full of vigor.  All that we long for is before us.  And also before us are the shadows, the contradictions, the wounds and knotholes, everything that’s part of living.  It’s never quite as simple as it appears at first.  It’s okay to hesitate, in this moment, as we stand here and imagine the new world we are entering.   


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Unhinged Party

Although it’s cold, it’s exhilarating to walk outside and feel that fierce wind blowing away one season and bringing on the next.  March is always an amazing month, since the return of spring never seems quite possible.  Those naked, barren trees are like a permanent feature of the landscape, but it won’t be long before it all comes to life. 

This month holds even more change than usual.  Not only are there two eclipses, but the outer planets are involved in a dance led by Jupiter.  There are indications of rebellion – Jupiter is inconjunct Uranus, the planet of change.  There are hints of deeper reform – Jupiter is trine Pluto, planet of long-term trends.  And there’s financial instability – Jupiter is square Saturn, planet of limitation.  All this in one month. 

With the surge of primaries and caucuses in March, it’s clear that stakes are being raised, bets are being placed, and winners and losers declared.  But I think that more is going on. 

My own feeling is that the Republican Party is in its death throes.  It’s becoming unhinged, dividing itself into two parties, at odds with each other.  If they do give Trump the nomination, then a big block of Republicans will split off, call themselves something different, and run their own candidate.  If they manage not to nominate him, he’ll start his own movement of renegade Republicans.  My sense is that there are people working out plans for both these eventualities, right now. 

It figures that the Republican Party would divide eventually.  It’s been the party of racists and millionaires, and what do these two constituencies have in common?  Not all that much.   The goal of uber-wealthy families is to hang on to their assets, and the goal of racists is to hold on to a perceived personal superiority, even when it doesn’t benefit them in any way. 

For the last fifty years, the super-wealthy have used racism and misogyny as tools, sometimes overtly and sometimes subtly, as ways to increase their own power and influence.  Anything that makes money for them is branded as good, and anything that distributes money more fairly  – unions, public education, welfare, women’s rights – is bad, or sometimes just terminally unhealthy, and is blamed on “those people”.  This has been the tactic that created the modern Republican party. 

But we live in something of a democracy, and so politicians have had to come out in favor of the things that ordinary (non-rich) people want.  This requires artfulness.  They have to say “small business” when they mean big corporations, “safety” when they’re talking about profit-driven prisons, and “national security” when they’re trying to boost weapons dealers.  

And now here comes a politician who has none of that artfulness, and who threatens to collapse the whole structure by being too obvious about it.  He blurts out racist and misogynist things instead of using the well-honed dog whistles that his party has refined over the decades.  Even though he’s a millionaire himself, he doesn’t seem to have learned the language very well.  He doesn’t have that millionaire sense of solidarity. 

So, like an iceberg in Antarctica, the Republican Party is going to calve.  That doesn’t mean we’ll be better off as a nation, although we could make some progress during the time it takes for it – or the new party -  to build itself up again.

And what about the eclipses of March?  The first one, a total solar eclipse on March 8, has Jupiter in Virgo facing off against the sun, moon, Mercury and Neptune in Pisces.  This mass of Pisces planets is like the solid dedication of true believers, who only need something or someone who will fulfill their fantasies of deliverance. 

This yearning to believe in something has a lot to do with Trump’s success.  He’s the “Great White Hope”, a figure who can rescue the flawed dreams that have been fed to white people in the US.  We’ve seen him in history before, and it doesn’t usually work out too well.  But this figure has been known to do a lot of damage before going down in flames.    

On the other side of the wheel is Jupiter in Virgo, which represents the principle of social organization.  With Jupiter in an earthy sign, this is a practical process, involving observation, good tools, and a certain amount of trial-and-error.  A static society is not a healthy one, and so Jupiter in Virgo represents change that’s both logical and ecological.  Ideally, everything grows organically and cooperatively.  Of course, for true believers, this is limiting and even boring.

Then on March 23, there’s a penumbral lunar eclipse.  It’s not quite as intense, but because the sun is in the fire sign Aries, there are conflicts that now move into the open.  This eclipse emphasizes the Aries/Libra axis, which is about independence vs. law.  Rebellious movements could gain a foothold. 

The Jupiter/Saturn square is very close, and so there could also be an economic downturn around the time of this eclipse.  This won’t necessarily last a long time, but it’s a good idea to be a bit more frugal in March, in preparation for this.  There could be a moment of reckoning when many people have to figure out what to do about long-term commitments.  Can we still afford to do the things we once planned? 

As a society, we may also have to look at long-term plans.  Saturn is in Sagittarius, the sign of travel, so problems with roads and bridges may become more evident, and perhaps very dangerous.  Funds will need to be diverted to deal with this, and where will these funds come from?  The millionaire class, and their pet politicians, will join together with an obvious answer:  let’s try again to get rid of health care. 

But Jupiter’s other aspects do point to change, so there will be a regrouping.  For many of us, spring is a chance to sketch out the world we’d like to live in.  If nature can reinvent herself, why can’t we?  For myself, I’d like to see a world with neither racists nor millionaires, but I think that will take more than one season.